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The Importance of Proper Attic Ventilation

A properly vented attic is critical to the longevity of your roof and overall energy efficiency. It also significantly reduces energy bills. If you have a poorly ventilated attic, it is very easy for hot air to push down into your living spaces, raising temperatures and driving up AC use.

This is especially a problem in summer, when the heat from your attic floor can easily penetrate the shingles and underlayment, as well as ceilings and walls. It can also promote mold growth and increase the risk of rot. This type of moisture is not only annoying to deal with, but it can also be costly, as it can cause damage to your home and health issues for its occupants.

During the day, your attic is full of hot air that comes from inside your house and from outside, which rises as it heats up. This means that the upstairs rooms of your home can become uncomfortable, even with the thermostat turned down. In addition, your air conditioning system is working to cool that hot air that is pushed down into the living space, driving up operating costs and wearing out your AC unit in the process.

Proper attic ventilation keeps the temperature in your living spaces consistent, allowing you to turn down the thermostat and save money on energy costs. It also prevents the sun’s heat from heating your attic, which can cause ice dams and other roof problems in winter.

A good attic ventilation system includes soffit vents, baffles or ridge vents that are sized correctly and properly installed to ensure proper air flow. This is a good time to examine the vents in your attic and make sure they are not blocked by debris, cobwebs or stray insulation. If your attic has gable vents but does not have soffit or ridge vents, it is a good time to add them.

Building codes require at least 1 square foot of vent area for every 300 square feet of attic space, with half of that area being located in the eaves and the other half at the ridge. This is a general guideline, but check the latest edition of the International Residential Code (IRC) to be certain.

The best attic vents are those that allow air to enter the attic from the soffit and eave areas, then rises and exits through a ridge vent or another open point. The stack effect is the force that drives this ventilation, and a high degree of this movement is needed for adequate attic ventilation. If the natural vents do not provide enough air movement, power or passive fans can be added to assist in achieving this level of ventilation. Ideally, these fans should be controlled by a thermostat to turn on when the attic gets too warm or humid.

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