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Top 6 Signs of Poor Attic Ventilation

Posted November 28, 2017 by Jerry Becker
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Key Takeaways

  • Proper attic ventilation moves heated air out of the attic and brings fresh air in, minimizing moisture buildup and protecting shingles.
  • Successful attic ventilation can be achieved through natural air flow or fan-based systems.
  • If attics are not correctly ventilated, it can increase moisture, inviting mold and pathogens to grow inside and underneath roof shingles. This puts the homeowner at risk for costly roof repairs.
  • Homeowners should look for signs of poor attic ventilation, such as temperature variations, moisture accumulation, mold growth, warped shingles, and unusually high energy bills.

Understanding Attic Ventilation

Maintaining your attic is essential to keeping your roof and the rest of your home healthy and functional. Proper attic ventilation ensures that hot air can be pushed out of the attic, removing excess moisture and protecting your roof’s shingles.

If attics are not correctly ventilated, moisture can build up, increasing the risk of mold, bacteria, and pathogen growth under or between the roof’s shingles. If left unchecked, unventilated attics can cause shingles to warp and displace themselves, hindering your roof’s protective layer and increasing your chances for water damage and mold.

Homeowners should watch for the following signs of poor attic ventilation. If you notice any of these six indicators in your home, it’s best to have qualified roofing professionals inspect your home for proper attic ventilation. They can make any necessary repairs to save you from more costly, widespread maintenance in the future.

1. Excessive Heat Buildup

In thermodynamics, the parcel theory implies that hot air rises due to its difference in density and gravity. Therefore, hot air tends to travel to the highest point in your house, the attic. Heat can build up in your attic without proper ventilation, making upstairs rooms uncomfortably hot during the summer months. 

If you notice that the upper portion of your home is unusually hot and fresh air is not getting pulled in, get an inspection from qualified professionals to ensure your attic is adequately ventilated.

2. Increased Energy Bills

Poorly ventilated attics can cause hot air to get trapped upstairs since fresh air cannot cycle it out. Sometimes, confined heat can force air conditioners to work harder to cool the house. As your AC works harder, you risk paying exponentially more on your electricity bills.

If you spot an unusual increase in energy usage, have an experienced roofing specialist survey your home for proper attic ventilation.

3. Moisture Accumulation

Without sufficient ventilation, fresh air cannot cycle through your attic. A lack of fresh air can lead to higher humidity. Moisture accumulation puts your attic at risk for mold and mildew growth, in addition to wood rot.

If you can feel oddly high levels of humidity or condensation upstairs or in your home’s attic, you should have a knowledgeable roofing professional survey your attic’s ventilation.

4. Mold Or Mildew Growth

As previously mentioned, prolonged moisture retention can cause mold and mildew to grow in your attic. You may also experience rot in your roofing components, hindering the roof’s structural integrity. In some cases, it can even attract pests like termites and rodents.

If you notice mold or mildew in your attic, it’s crucial that you have a professional remove it to avoid irritation and infection from mold exposure. Plus, roofing specialists can repair any damaged or rotten roofing material before the problem worsens.

5. Unpleasant Odors

Mold and mildew growth is often accompanied by unpleasant, musty odors. Sometimes, mold and mildew can grow out of sight, so it’s essential to recognize any stale smells coming from your attic. Nevertheless, you should avoid prolonged exposure to these smells because mold exposure can cause respiratory issues.

If you can smell a musty and stale odor radiating from your attic, scheduling a professional-led inspection is essential to identifying the source and guaranteeing appropriate attic ventilation.

6. Warped or Rotted Roof Decking

When inadequate attic ventilation limits airflow, moisture builds up and saturates the wood construction. Over time, your roof’s hot, wet components can grow distorted, ruining the roof’s decking. If left untreated, this problem can result in wood decay.

Unfortunately, roof deterioration has a snowball effect. Once warped shingles start peeling up, more vulnerable portions of your roof are exposed to water and harsh elements, further expediting the decline of your roof’s health. Plus, rotted roof decking is susceptible to cave-ins and structural damage. 

If you are unsure if your attic is adequately ventilated, inspecting it before deterioration spreads throughout your home and limits its lifespan is best.

Consequences Of Poor Attic Ventilation

Improper attic ventilation can cause a series of problems that ripple through the rest of your home, affecting your roof and your quality of life. Having a professional review and approve your attic ventilation can save you from expensive, extensive repairs. 

Some potential consequences of poor attic ventilation are:

  • Structural damage to the roof – When a poorly ventilated attic traps heat, shingles can grow warped, exposing the roof to structural damage. Weakened roofs have a higher chance of cave-ins from falling debris.
  • Decreased lifespan of roofing materials – When an unventilated attic holds moisture for long periods of time, it can invite wood rot, mold, and pests that shorten the life of your roofing materials.
  • Dangerous indoor air quality – Without ventilation circulating fresh air, your moist attic can foster bacteria, pathogens, and respiratory irritants. Plus, indoor air has two to five times more pollutants than outdoor air.
  • Increased heat retention – Improper ventilation can keep heat trapped toward the top of your house, causing upstairs rooms to be uncomfortably hot during the summer.

Poor ventilation can have inconvenient and sometimes dangerous consequences. However, several solutions and prevention techniques can help keep your attic and the rest of your house in optimal condition.

Solutions For Improving Attic Ventilation

You can improve attic ventilation in several ways. Some of the most effective solutions for attic ventilation issues are:

  • Install ridge and soffit vents to allow the entrance of fresh air and the escape of hot air.
  • Set up a series of attic fans
  • Ensure proper insulation throughout your roof and attic
  • Have a trusted team of roofing specialists perform regular inspections and maintenance

Understanding your attic’s design, such as its insulation and vent setup, is a great way to know if its ventilation is adequate. When in doubt, asking for input from a team of professionals trained in roof and attic components is always an excellent idea.

Ensure Proper Attic Ventilation With Roof Life

Proper attic ventilation is crucial to prolonging the health of your home. An unventilated attic can trap heat and moisture, creating a breeding ground for mold, mildew, wood rot, pests, and many other problems. If left unchecked, improper attic ventilation can affect the structural integrity of your roof and require expensive repairs.

Unfortunately, many roofing companies in the Portland area ignore the root problem when making repairs: improper attic ventilation. If a company simply fixes the shingles and structure of the roof without addressing the poor attic ventilation, the issues can resurface.

The roof experts at Roof Life of Oregon will always do their due diligence, checking homeowners’ attics during inspections to see if there are concerns about poor attic ventilation. After a roof inspection, our specialists can fix any problems with your roof, saving you from more costly widespread repairs or replacements in the future.

Contact us today for a free roof and attic inspection. We’ll perform a detailed check of your roof and attic and provide you with a quote for any services you may need.

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