Are you wondering if the attic ventilation system in your home is energy efficient? If so, you’re not alone. Many homeowners are still determining whether the need for attic ventilation is important. They believe that by allowing cold air from outside into their attic, they’ll lower the efficiency of their home’s heating and cooling system. However, this is not true, proper attic ventilation improves energy efficiency.
Most homes in the United States are built without proper attic ventilation. This means that your home is getting only some of the benefits it could be from having an efficient HVAC system, and it’s costing you money!
According to the U.S. Energy Department, the average American spends $1,400 per year on energy costs. By installing an attic ventilation system that allows warm air to escape from your home and cold air to enter at a controlled rate, you can reduce those energy costs significantly.
How Does Attic Ventilation Work?
Heat naturally rises from lower elevations to higher, causing it to rise and sit in your attic. If you have too many layers of insulation and drywall in your attic, it can get extremely hot due to the excess insulation trapping heat and preventing it from escaping through the roof vents. When this happens, you may notice that your home is warmer than usual, sometimes even uncomfortable. This is because there isn’t enough air circulation in the attic.
To fix this problem, you need adequate attic ventilation. An attic ventilation system relies on the simple principle of convection. When the air gets hot, the water molecules in the air begin to expand and grow in size. These water molecules become less dense due to their size, rise to the top of your home, and escape out of the ventilation unit.
The key to attic ventilation is that when warm air rises inside your home, it’s given room to exit your house while cool air from outside comes in through openings in your roof and replaces it. This creates a continuous process that keeps your attic at a consistent temperature throughout the year and keeps your energy bills low!
What Happens If You Don’t Have Attic Ventilation?
If you don’t have attic ventilation, your roof will be in danger of buckling, curling, and warping. The plywood that makes up the roof deck may also begin to split. Mold can grow on your attic insulation and structural elements of the attic, such as rafters, joists, and trusses.
Roof deck condensation will occur if you don’t have proper attic ventilation and can lead to an increased number of termites in your home. In the summertime, your air conditioner will work harder than it should to keep your home cool. Summer energy bills will be very high if you don’t have proper attic ventilation. Additionally, ice dams may form in the winter near the eaves of your roof because of poor attic ventilation.
If you’re looking for an easy way to improve the comfort level inside your home, adding a roof ventilation system is a great place to start!
How To Improve Attic Ventilation
Now, you know the importance of air circulation and ventilation in your home. It’s common for a house to have poor attic ventilation, but it takes little effort to ensure that your attic provides quality airflow throughout your home.
Here are some tips if you’re looking for a way to improve your attic ventilation.
Assess Your Needs
A quick way to check your attic’s ventilation quality is to observe the temperature in your attic on a hot day in the summer and a cold day in the winter. You ultimately want your attic temperature to be similar to the temperature outside.
In the Summer: During the summer, you’ll notice that hot air is trapped in your attic if you put your hand on the ceiling and it feels warm. Too much heat will lessen your home’s ability to stay cool and comfortable.
In the Winter: Warm air trapped inside your attic during the wintertime leads to ice-covered eaves and ice dams forming. is the cause of ice dams. The snow on the roof’s peak melts due to this warm air and turns to ice when it comes into contact with the colder eaves. You can check for warm air in your attic by looking for condensation (or frost) on the ceiling.
Install Attic Vents
Attic vents are important for your home’s air circulation and energy efficiency. The purpose of attic vents is to equalize the pressure between the inside and outside temperatures of the home. As warm air escapes through the attic venting system a the peak, and cold air enters through the eaves, a balance is achieved between the inside and outside temperatures. The flow of air also helps prevent moisture buildup in your attic.
There are two main types of vents used to ventilate attics:
Intake Vents: Intake vents are installed in various locations: beneath the eaves, high on the sides of a house in a gable, or as shingled intake vents on a low part of the roof. Intake vents allow cool air to enter the attic, which helps keep the space more comfortable.
Exhaust Vents: To prevent heat from building up in your attic, exhaust vents are installed on the peak of the roof to allow hot air to escape.
Exhaust vents are a natural way of ventilating an attic that does not require electricity or motors. It is easy to maintain and provides good ventilation, but the amount of air circulation depends on the weather.
You can achieve passive ventilation through the use of roof ridges, screened gable vents, roof turbines, and screened vents in eaves and soffits.
Use Electric Fans to Improve Airflow
Installing an electric fan in your attic’s roof or gable can be a good way to ventilate your home. Two types of fans available on the market include powered roof fans and gable fans. You could also use a solar-powered fan that wouldn’t need electricity from your home’s electrical system, but the downside of using this type of fan is that you only have a certain amount of time in the day you can use it. Homeowners who live in areas with frequent, direct sunlight will benefit better from this fan option than others.
Mechanical attic ventilation is a great option for moving air through your attic, as it can operate in any weather conditions. However, it’s generally more complicated to install than passive venting and will require regular maintenance over its lifetime.
Don’t Overdo It
When it comes to attic ventilation, most people assume more means better. They are concerned about having every last square inch of their attic ventilated because they’re scared of high air conditioning or heating bills. However, this is not always the case. Unless you live in an extremely hot or cold climate, you will not need a large amount of attic ventilation. So always check building codes and standard practices in your area when getting attic or roof vents. If you’re unsure, give our team at McClellands Contracting and Roofing LLC a call.
Are Attic Ventilation Codes & Standards Required?
The International Residential Code states in Section R806.1:
“Enclosed attics and enclosed rafter spaces formed where ceilings are applied directly to the underside of roof rafters shall have cross ventilation for each separate space by ventilating openings protected against the entrance of rain or snow.“
Attic ventilation is required for any attic space enclosed by ceiling joists, floor joists, or rafters. The required ventilation type depends on whether or not the attic space is conditioned. A conditioned attic is one where the insulation is installed directly onto the roof sheathing. If the attic of your home is conditioned, then it must be ventilated by cross ventilation.
Cross ventilation means there must be two openings in opposite walls at least 2 feet apart and at least 6 inches below the roof sheathing or above the highest insulation level. These openings must be protected from rain, snow, birds, rodents, and similar creatures while providing enough space to properly ventilate the attic.
If an attic space is not conditioned, it must be ventilated by the cross and vertical shafts that are at least 1 square foot per 150 square feet of area. These shafts should be placed in one or more exterior walls, with an openable window(s) or louvered vent(s). Like other ventilation systems, these openings must be protected from both the weather and small pests from entering your home.
How Much Does It Cost To Ventilate An Attic?
When you’re looking to install a roof vent, you can expect to pay between $240 and $600, depending on the size of your home and the type of roof you have. What if you’re not looking for something standard? What if you have a one-story house with a flat roof or a two-story house with a steep roof and a roof vent cover?
Find an expert in your area who has expertise with attic and roof ventilation. Whether you need exhaust or intake vents, they’ll be able to help you figure out what kind of vent is best for your needs. They’ll also be able to tell you how much it will cost to install that type of vent and even offer tips on how much money you could save by doing some of the work yourself!
Hiring an Expert to Improve Attic Ventilation
If you’re looking to get your attic properly ventilated, it’s time to call McClellands Contracting and Roofing LLC. We have been in business for years and have served the greater Pittsburgh area with quality workmanship and outstanding customer service.
Our team of professionals will assess your attic to determine if it needs additional ventilation. We then create a solution that is tailored to your specific needs. Our goal is to help you achieve the best indoor air quality possible by creating an effective system to keep your home comfortable year-round.
We offer free estimates on our services, so contact us today at (412) 353-5660!