Proper attic ventilation systems allow a continual flow of outside air through the attic, protecting the efficiency of the insulation and helping to lower temperatures in the living space.
It consists of a balance between air intake (at your eaves or soffits) and air exhaust (at or near your roof ridge).
The U.S. FHA (Federal Housing Administration) recommends a minimum of at least 1 square foot of attic ventilation (both intake and exhaust) for every 300 square feet of attic space. For example, if your attic is 900 square feet, you need a total of 3 square feet of ventilation. This amount should be divided equally between intake and exhaust ventilation (i.e., 1 1/2 feet of each) to insure proper air flow through the attic.
Why Take Risks?
Many homes in North America do not have proper attic ventilation. Why? Because most people are unaware that attic ventilation can impact the longevity of their entire home!–
In the summer, improper ventilation can cause attic heat to build in excess of 160°F. This super-heated air eventually penetrates the ceiling insulation into the living area below.
Types of damage that can result include:
- Roof deck warping and rotting of the wood frame
- Premature aging of your roofing system (“fried” shingles)
- Warping, cracking, or breaking down of wood framing
- Damage to siding, exterior or interior paint, and wallpaper
- A properly ventilated attic can help reduce the load on your air conditioner by moving the super-heated air out of your attic before it builds up and causes damage.
In the winter, various household appliances, bathtubs, showers, and cooking vapors can contribute to excess moisture build-up. Improperly ventilated attics will allow this moisture to collect and cling to the underside of the roof. The moisture will condense and fall, soaking the attic insulation and reducing its efficiency.
- Additional structural damage can include:
- Mildew growth
- Buckling of shingles and felt
Finally, attics should be properly ventilated to help prevent ice dams in cold northern climates. During the winter, ice and snow on a roof will melt and run down the deck to the cooler eaves. This run-off can re-freeze, creating an ice dam that may force water back up under the shingles and leak into your home — causing hundreds or thousands of dollars of damage to your ceilings and walls. Adequate attic ventilation reduces the amount of initial melting that occurs on your roof, thereby reducing the chance that ice dams will form