Proper roof insulation plus sufficient attic ventilation is the formula to extend the life of your roof and avoid a costly roof repair. Adequate attic insulation and ventilation work together to lessen the impact of the extreme heat and cold characteristic of Madison WI.
The primary job of your roof is to protect what’s beneath it. The job of the roof insulation and ventilation is to help protect the roof. Consistent airflow through the house is critical to keep the summer heat from “cooking” shingles from the inside and keep radiant heat from melting winter snow – reducing the risk of ice dams.
Ventilation and insulation each have important properties contributing to your overall comfort. Not only do they protect your roof, they help mechanical systems work more efficiently and more economically.
Professional roofing contractors often use a common rule of thumb: The more insulation in the attic, the more ventilation that’s required. Insulation works best when it “breathes,” meaning there’s consistent airflow to outside surfaces. Insulation should be open to the roof, but have a vapor barrier between it and inside areas – walls and ceilings should have a water-tight seal.
How Attic Ventilation Staves of Roof Repair
During a normal Madison WI summer, temperatures inside an attic without proper airflow can be 160 degrees or higher. This extremely hot air blankets the insulation and makes the home’s cooling system work too hard. It may even cause damage to ceilings below. Outside, this heat is frying shingles from the bottom up so they will decay more readily. Rafters and the base layer of the roof can also be weakened enough to cause warping and cracks.
During a typical winter, we attempt to increase the humidity in the house. But, household appliances and simple day-to-day living – baths, showers, etc. – can put excess moisture into the air. The moist air rises and if ventilation isn’t sufficient, clings to the underside of the roof. While there it may penetrate the wood or condense and fall onto the insulation material. Wet insulation is very inefficient.
Promoting proper air circulation through the roof insulation relies on a balance between air intake vents in the soffits and an air exhaust vent on or near the roof’s peak. Federal building requirements recommend at least 1 square foot of ventilation for each 300 square feet of attic space. That requirement includes both intake and exhaust vents.
Never Too Late To Improve Roof Insulation
Roof insulation can be added at any time, not just during a roof repair or replacement. There are certain materials that are best suited for different types of roofs. Some work better for steep slopes, some for shallow slopes and others for a flat roof. Insulation materials include:
- Latex and acrylic barriers
- Bituminous asphalt
- Elastomeric (non-bituminous) coatings
- Fibered coatings
- Polystyrene or rigid foam panels
The R-value is the important measure of how effective an insulation product will be. In Wisconsin, higher R-values like R-38 or high in the ceilings and R-25 and high in walls and floors will provide the best result.
If you think your roof insulation or attic ventilation isn’t up to par, contact a professional roofing contractor for an onsite inspection. Once the review is complete you’ll be able to evaluate the next steps.
If you decide to add insulation to the attic, it’s also a good time to increase ventilation. Be sure to apply the rule of thumb – at least 1 square foot of ventilation for each 300 square feet of attic space. More can make the system more efficient. Ventilation can be added with a few vents in the soffits beneath the overhang of the roof or to the roof itself.
The cost of additional roof insulation and more attic ventilation can be weighed against the cost of a roof repair or replacement in the not too distant future.
Roof Repair When The Time Comes
Proper maintenance will only go so far. A roof won’t last forever. When the time comes to replace your roof, consider going with a lighter colored material. Lighter colors provide increased thermal insulation by reflecting the sun’s rays. That reduces the outside and inside temperature of the roof and will extend the structure’s life. Traditional roofing materials like clay tiles and shingles are available in reflective materials that can also reduce thermal heating.
When you need to upgrade insulation, increase ventilation or repair a roof, contact Sims Exteriors & Remodeling. We provide roofing, roof insulation and attic ventilation services to Madison WI, Cottage Grove, Sun Prairie, Deforest, Waunakee, Middleton, Verona, Fitchburg, McFarland, Stoughton and all other communities in south central Wisconsin.
Rely on Sims Exteriors & Remodeling. Call 608-825-4500 or email us and our professional team will help you define your roofing, ventilation and attic insulation needs in Madison WI.