Proper ventilation is important for all houses to ensure airflow efficiency and save money in the long run. You can save a lot of headaches if you invest in attic ventilation.
This article will tell you why it is important, why it can save you money, and the different types of ventilation you can buy. But it will also explore the disadvantages of ventilation and when you might not need it.
What is Attic Ventilation?
Attic ventilation is a way of cooling down space and preventing damage to your roof all year long. Ventilating your attic can save you money on your bills and can prevent your roof from rotting. It can save you money on emergency roof repair work as well.
During the summer, it can reduce heat build-up, and in the winter, it can let the moisture and heat build-up escape from the attic, reducing the chances of rotting and the build-up of ice dams.
How Attic Ventilation Works
Heated air rises naturally, so attic ventilation works based on this principle. You can have a vent at the lowest part of the roof, under the eaves, which allows cool air to go into your attic.
These are called intake vents. Or, you can have a vent at the rooftop, allowing your attic to let the hot air escape through the vent. These are exhaust vents.
Make sure to take advantage of the balanced process provided by both these types. This will maximize the efficiency of your ventilation in your attic.
Attic Ventilation Types
There are many types of vents you can install in your attic. Below we explore the most popular options, including exhaust vents and intake vents as well.
Ridge vents are placed alongside your home’s ridgeline. They’re usually a strip, and before you can install them, a one-inch wide strip of the decking of the roof is cut to allow for efficient airflow through your vent. Airflow is crucial, so always make sure it is not blocked by anything.
Soffit vents are installed in the soffit areas of the home. They allow proper airflow, which moves from the soffits into your ridge vent. If you have a soffit vent in your home, you need to ensure insulation is installed between the attic floor and the roofline.
This will prevent any attic insulation from going into holes and cavities. Which in turn ensures the airflow is not restricted from the soffit vents.
Powered Exhaust Vents
Powered exhaust vents extract the hot air from your attic and shove it outside. They can be remote-controlled, such as with a switch or even a thermostat. Thermostats would detect any build-up of hot air and would automatically be blown out through the vents.
They can be solar-powered or even electric. They create a very similar effect to a turbine. They are very good at extracting the hot air from your attic, but they can also pull colder air through air leaks in your ceiling.
Now, because these vents can be powered by electricity, you should consider the extra energy cost this can add to your household bills. But most of the time, the difference it makes is minuscule.
The gable ends of your home are where you would install these vents. Typically, these are louvered, which in turn lets the air being exhausted from your attic. Plus, it ensures moisture from rain or snow is stopped from entering the house.
These are not installed on the roof but instead on the gable walls of the house. There are many benefits to this, one being the prevention of leaks. It is less likely to cause any leakage in the house.
Static vents are basically like wind turbines. They are powered by wind; that’s how the fans in the vent work. Now, for these vents, all it takes is a slight blow for the blades to start rotating.
You can choose a variety of static vents to match the style and color of your roof so it does not stand out of place. Whichever static vent you choose, it needs to be located near the ridge of the roof.
Is Attic Ventilation Necessary?
It may not be necessary to install attic ventilation. Typically, older buildings were not built with any ventilation, and most of the time, they don’t have any problems. In this case, you probably don’t need to worry about getting any ventilation installed.
However, if you see a lot of condensation in the attic, it is best to install one.
Attic Ventilation Fans Pros and Cons
There are some pros and cons of attic ventilation.
- Long-lasting Roof: It can help your roof to last longer without any major repairs.
- Cooler building: So, vents can protect your roof, but they can also cool down the house during hotter months, so you can live more comfortably. If your attic is hot due to the warm climate, your whole home will have an imbalanced temperature throughout, with usually the second floor being hotter.
- Reducing or stopping mold: If your attic is not ventilated correctly, mold can grow in the room in both colder and warmer months. So, ventilating can prevent mold growth.
- Gets Rid of Ice Dams: Ice dams only happen during the winter months. It can cause significant problems to your roof. Ice dams, again, happen due to melting snow refreezing again on the roof, which can lead to needing the roof repaired urgently.
- Carbon Monoxide: Powered fans (electric, not solar powered) can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. This is only the case if you have gas (natural or propane) appliances in your home, such as a water heater.
- Increased costs: As mentioned earlier, electric-powered ventilation will up your bills, but there are studies where researchers argue that most ventilation systems may not result in money-saving.
- Possible leak: Leaking can happen due to anything being installed on your roof, not just ventilation. Especially if it is not appropriately maintained, and typically it happens when the ventilation is installed on the roof itself.
How do I Know if my Attic is Properly Ventilated?
The best way to check if you are adequately ventilated is to touch the ceiling during a hot day. If it is hot, it usually means the attic is now a sauna. It is not ventilated, and hot air is building up in there. If this is the case, you will need to install a vent to prevent damage to your roof or room.
During the winter, you can check by looking at the eaves of your roof. Can you see thick ice ridges alongside it? If so, it means the attic is not ventilated, and the heat build-up from your heating is melting the snow on the roof, which then refreezes overnight.
You can also go up in the attic and look for moisture and condensation. If you can see any signs of these, like any dampness or even frost, then you will need to install ventilation.
If you see any of the above signs but you have a vent in the attic, then you will need to investigate the vents. You might not have maintained them appropriately over the years, or they are broken.
Make sure to replace the vents and invest in better vents to allow proper air circulation in the attic.
What Happens if your Attic is not Vented?
Many issues can arise if your attic needs to be vented but is not. Attics can trap hot and damp from your home, and if unventilated, can cause condensation. Condensation can lead to mold and rotting of the roof, which can leave you having to call an emergency maintenance specialist to sort the issue out.
Usually, this is a problem in new builds because of the amount and placement of insulation required to complete a house. The warm air cannot escape anywhere else in the house, so it travels to the attic, causing hot air to build-up in there.
Can you have too much Ventilation in your Attic?
Put, yes. You don’t want to keep adding vents because they are still a leak hazard, and adding more than needed adds to the risk of leakage. Plus, sometimes having too many vents can lead to them working against each other.
You also need to consider the shape of the roof; if it is an unusual shape, you need to maximize the vents’ efficiency, so putting vents into places where they don’t create airflow would seem pointless.
When to Ventilate an Attic
It would help if you ventilated your home throughout the year, but it’s important to ventilate during summer months when hot air builds up quicker and winter months when you use heating.
As we mentioned previously, the heat rising to the roof can melt the snow, freezing overnights, causing ice dams to form.
Attic Ventilation Requirements
It is not simple to ventilate your attic. Again, any mistakes made during installation can end up with your roof leaking, any mold growing, or any other conditions which may be hazardous.
Make sure to hire someone who knows what they are doing if you are not comfortable doing any work yourself.
How Much does it Cost to Ventilate an Attic?
The typical range to install a vent would be between $300 and $800. This will depend on your attic’s size because the bigger attic you have, the more vents they need to install. It will also depend on the type of ventilation you choose. Usually, solar-powered ones can cost more than any other type.
Things to Consider Before Ventilating an Attic
You need to make sure your vent system is balanced when installing. You should have a vent for exhaust and a vent for intake. Exhaust ones enable the air from your attic to escape to the outside of the home. When correctly installed, the air will leave the house.
On the other hand, intake ones are commonly used to allow the air from the outside to enter your attic. Intake vents need to be installed alongside the roof’s eave or where the soffits are. This will allow for a balanced exhaust and intake.
How to Ventilate the Attic
The rule of thumb is that you will need 1 square foot of ventilation per 300 square feet of space. But this also depends on your roof’s shape, and actually, most people would recommend having 1 per 150 square feet of space.
To choose the right ventilation system for yourself, you will need to check the total area of your attic. Once you have that, you will need to divide that by 150, giving you the number of vents you need. For example, if your attic is 20′ by 30′, you will multiply these two numbers together, then divide it by 150.
So, in this case, 20 x 30 = 600, 600 / 150 = 4. You will need 4 vents to create proper airflow in your attic.
To summarise, we discussed how important attic ventilation could be. It can save you money in the long run, and it can help keep your home energy efficient, saving money on bills, not just repair costs. Your roof’s life expectancy can be prolonged, also saving you money in the long run.
You need to make sure your roof needs ventilation before installing any vents. Unnecessary installation can be a waste of money. However, if you need to install any, make sure it creates a balanced airflow between the intake vents and exhaust vents.
Incorrectly installed vents can cause leakage and other damaging issues to your home. So, make sure your vents are secure and installed properly, meeting building regulations.