Attic Venting for Healthy Homes

Attics just aren’t what they used to be. There was a time when there was something almost romantic about an attic with its kitchy pull-down stairs and dusty treasures hidden within. They were places to explore and maybe even find a priceless antique of some kind. Today, attics are far from glamorous and can even be down-right dangerous! Most have an access hatch built for only freakishly skinny people and are often difficult to get to and even more difficult to open. The inside can be a scary place too. You may not find Auntie Ann’s vintage wedding dress but it’s still important to know what’s going on up there and to ensure there is adequate attic venting.

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Health of Your Attic

Try to think of the attic as a living, breathing part of your home that is supposed to work towards venting out all the warm moist air that has made its way up there. Air should be in constant motion, in order to prevent condensation build up, which will inevitably lead to mold. The warm air from your house rises to the attic, where it should be a cooler temperature. Air holds different amounts of water, based on its temperature. Warm air can hold more water than cooler air, so as the warm air from your house gets to your attic and cools, that water needs to go somewhere. This is where condensation occurs. If there is good ventilation, the moisture will be whisked away and problems will be avoided.

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Properly vented attic. Image via Adamson Roofing

 Achieving Ideal Ventilation

How do you achieve this elusive ‘good ventilation’? It’s an intricate dance between soffit vent and roof vent. They exchange glances as one passes air to the other from across the room … maybe there is a little romance after all! If everything is as it should be air is drawn up through the soffit vents, which allow outside air to enter the attic at the lowest point of the roof-along the underside of the eave.  The air then travels upwards and is exhausted out via roof vents (attic venting) or ridge vents. Voila! In a perfect world we could end right there.

Attic Maintenance

What can you do as a homeowner? Firstly, don’t be afraid to pop your head up into your attic and have a look around, have a good sniff too because what you smell can tell you a lot about what’s going on. If you smell a musty smell or worse an animal type smell, you best be doing some investigating – carefully please. Rest assured though, that if you do encounter mold in your attic, health concerns for those living in the house are very minimal, as it can’t travel down into your house. Think of the direction of air flow-up and out, much like a chimney.

Secondly, have a look from the outside to ensure your roof has both soffit vents AND roof vents placed high on the roof. If you’re a numbers kind of person, soffit vents should make up 60% of your vents, while roof vents should make up the remaining 40%. If your home is fitted solely with small gable-end vents or a ventilator high in the roof, you might want to consider adding soffit vents to increase airflow. Having a good look while inside to ensure none of these vents are obstructed is also advisable. Between disconnected bathroom fans, poor venting (mold on the sheathing), vermiculite insulation, and a host of other potential problems all attics should be inspected periodically to ensure they are functioning properly.

If you have any questions or concerns about your attic (or any other part of your home) we would be happy to hear from you![su_divider]

Feature image Attic Room via J. Ouey