At first, many homeowners are skeptical about the need for attic ventilation, as there’s a common misconception that letting cold outdoor air come into their attic will lower their home’s energy efficiency. However, the truth is, proper attic ventilation actually improves energy efficiency.
This is because the attic is actually sealed off from the rest of your home. The living area of your house is fully insulated, creating a barrier between it and the attic. However, if the attic gets too hot or humid due to poor ventilation, it can start to affect the inhabited part of your house.
You can prevent this by taking measures to improve your attic’s ventilation. Here we will discuss some of the effects of poor attic ventilation and share 5 practical solutions you can take today.
1. Assess Your Needs
Before you make any changes, it’s important to determine if your attic actually needs additional ventilation, and if so, how much. A quick way you check your attic’s ventilation quality depends on the current season:
- In the Summer: On a hot day, touch your ceiling with your hand. If it feels warm, this is a tell-tale sign that your attic is storing hot air. This interferes with your home’s ability to stay cool and comfortable and shows that more ventilation is needed.
- In the Winter: If you see ice buildup on your eaves in the winter, your attic isn’t well-ventilated. The ice forms due to warm air from the indoors getting stuck inside the attic, causing rooftop snow to melt and refreeze along the eaves. You can also inspect your attic from within to see if warm air is being trapped inside. Because this air contains moisture, you will be able to see condensation (or frost, if it’s especially cold) on the attic’s ceiling.
An attic with sufficient ventilation will have equal levels of incoming and outgoing air. Ventilation should be placed in a way that allows air to enter from along the eaves and exit through the roof’s peak.
Common conventions call for one square foot of attic ventilation per 300 square feet of ceiling space. However, some authorities recommend one square foot of attic ventilation per 150 square feet. If you live in an area with a humid climate, it may be best to go with the higher standard to ensure you have plenty of ventilation which can save you time and money down the road. No matter what, be sure to check local building codes to see what the minimum requirement is for your area.
2. Insert Roof Vents
Roof vents are typically set at a roof’s peak, where the attic’s air naturally rises. Adding roof vents to your attic can ensure warm, moist air is able to escape, preventing heat buildup and condensation. You will need to periodically check your roof vents to make sure they are debris free.
3. Add Soffit Vents
Soffit are the planks that connect the underside of your roof overhang to your home’s exterior walls. They conceal the roof beams, but when properly vented, can also play an important role in attic ventilation.
Soffit vents provide an opening for outside air to enter the attic from below. When paired with roof vents, they create a smooth system that enables air to flow into, up and out of the attic.
There are two types of soffit vents: rectangular and continuous. With rectangular vents, openings are usually cut out of the wood beams of your home and a vent is then placed in that opening. Continuous venting means that you have vented soffit all the way around the attic area.
Like roof vents, soffit vents also need to be checked occasionally and maintained to keep them clear.
4. Install Gable Vents
For some attics, roof and soffit vents alone may not provide enough ventilation. Installing gable vents can provide the additional airflow needed. Placed at the gable ends of the roof, these vents often have controllable openings oriented to drive air out of the attic.
Some homes only have gable vents, which often aren’t sufficient. If your home already has gable vents but no other vents, such as soffit vents or roof vents, you will likely need to add other forms of ventilation.
5. Use Fans to Improve Airflow
Most attic ventilation solutions rely on hot air naturally rising. But this passive ventilation may not be enough if you live in an especially hot or humid climate. Fans offer supplementary ventilation for these situations.
Powered by a traditional electric connection or solar panels, fans can be used to draw air out of the attic. Some can be activated via a thermostat that automatically starts the fan when the attic gets too warm, while others are manually controlled by a switch.
The Next Steps Toward Better Attic Ventilation
Achieving good ventilation in your attic can help you lower your energy bills, extend your roof’s lifespan, and prevent mold and moisture damage. You’ll be able to avoid unnecessary expenses and save your money for other useful home improvements.
If you’d like to learn more about specific products that can help you enhance your attic’s ventilation, explore Rollex’s collection of aluminum soffit. Rollex’s soffit comes with vented panels built right in, saving you the need to search for individual vents.