For insulation to do its job and attic has to have free-flowing air, making attic ventilation a critical element in the efficient use of energy. After protecting your family home in Madison WI through the harsh temperatures of winter, it’s time to offer the same protection against the baking heat of the summer sun. Efficient attic ventilation will keep your cooling costs down and reduce the risk of costly roof repairs.
Attic Ventilation Saves Energy and Money
“Up in the attic” is the one place, especially in older homes, where there is an opportunity to make improvements to save on energy cost. And, cost savings are attained in several ways, not by adding insulation alone. Maintaining an even air flow all year long is the key to insulation doing its job. Keeping the attic cold in winter and cool in summer reduces the threat of ice dams, condensation and overheating roofing materials from the inside.
In the summer, efficient air flow from a properly vented attic moves super-heated air out of the attic – hot air rises naturally. The most common, critical mistake homeowners make is thinking all they need to reduce energy costs is to add more insulation in the attic.
TIP FROM A PRO – If you’re adding insulation, NEVER block the air flow at the eaves and NEVER cover attic soffit vents with insulation. Reduce attic ventilation and you’re wasting money on insulation.
Clues to Ventilation Problems
Ventilation in the attic is an “out of sight, out of mind” concern. How do you know when there’s a potential problem that could lead to roof repairs? Improper ventilation leaves its mark over time. Clues inside your home include:
- Excessively drafty rooms
- Hot and cold rooms – uneven temperature between rooms
- Higher than expected heating or cooling bills – changes over a period of months
- Ice dams appear during freeze/thaw in the spring
- Exceptionally dry air inside during the winter
- More than normal dust accumulation, especially in rooms directly below the attic
If you see any of these conditions and suspect there’s something amiss in the attic, get up there and look for things like:
- Wet insulation or stained insulation that indicates a roof leak
- Mold, mildew or rot on attic rafters, floor joists or roof
- Kitchen, bathroom or clothes dryer vents that are exhausting excessively moist air into the attic instead of outdoors – small leaks in the vent pipes/hoses are all it takes
- Blocks or clogged attic ventilation outlets
- Insulation over the top of and blocking vents
- Cracked roof sheathing
- Sagging roof sheathing
- Light coming through cracks
Efficient ventilation pulls cooler outside air into the attic naturally and circulates if through soffit and gable openings. If soffit vents are blocked – or there are just not enough of them – cool air from inside your house eventually finds its way into the attic. You don’t want your air conditioner cooling the attic.
A thorough inspection of the roof from the outside is in order, too. Clues to ventilation issues can be found in damage and wear to the exterior as well as the interior of the roof. Check for the following as you evaluate the need for roof repairs:
- Damaged, warn and missing shingles – look for cracks, breaks, peeling and the loss of the grainy covering. Water stains can mean a sag or slope problem and possible decking weakness – a spongy feeling when walking is a sign there’s moisture underneath.
- Exposed nails
- Missing caulk
- Rusty metal flashing
- Missing or damaged flashing – it doesn’t take much winter wind, ice and snow to cause flashing around vents, chimneys or skylights to heave and it doesn’t take much of a gap to allow water to leak in.
- Cracks on and around the chimney and vents
- Signs of rot or mold
- Gaps around soffits and fascias
TIP FROM A PRO – Even if you see something like algae growing on your roof, resist the urge to use a power washer to clean it off. The high-pressure stream from the washer can strip of the valuable coating on shingles, loosen shingles or worse, strip the shingles completely off. If you see mold or moss, use a specialized cleaning solution.
Insure You Roof’s Safety
For a complete evaluation of your attic and roof, work with the professionals at Sims Exteriors & Remodeling. Call the team serving greater Dane County, including Middleton, Waunakee, Fitchburg, Oregon Verona, McFarland, Stoughton, Cottage Grove, Sun Prairie and Deforest.
Roof damage can result from poor ventilation and the extremes in Madison WI weather. Contact Sims Exteriors and Remodeling at 608-825-4500, or email us to schedule a roof maintenance check to help avoid costly roof repairs and insure proper attic ventilation for your Madison WI home.