Why is attic ventilation important?
Attic ventilation is very important to the life of your home -- in terms of maintaining the structural integrity of your home and also as it contributes to the overall efficiency of your home. In the warmer Summer months, it helps to direct the rising heat up and out of the house, thus increasing the life of your roof's shingles and decreasing your cooling costs. In the Winter, proper ventilation helps to keep your attic dry as it moves the moist, warm air from below up and out of the house.
How can you determine whether or not your attic is properly vented?
One of the easiest and quickest ways to tell whether or not your attic is vented is to touch your home's ceiling on a hot, Summer day. A ceiling that is hot or warm to the touch indicates improper attic ventilation up above. Another way to inspect your attic ventilation is to take a good look at your roof and eaves while standing outside. Do you see any attic or roof vents? In the Winter months, you'll want to watch out for thick ridges of ice on your eaves or dampness/frost on your rafters and roof sheathing. Another great way to get a quality snapshot of your attic's ventilation system is to hire a local home inspector or roofing professional to conduct a routine maintenance check.
What are my choices in terms of attic vents?
When it comes to attic ventilation, there are two important categories of vents -- intake vents and exhaust vents. As their names imply, intake vents take air from outside into the home, and exhaust vents expel air from the home into the air outside the home. In order to have an effective and highly efficient attic ventilation system, your home must have the correct balance of intake and exhaust vents.
Intake vents essentially pull cooler outside air into the attic, thus encouraging the warmer air inside the home to rise and exit the home. The most common types of intake vents are soffit vents, drip edge vents, and fascia vents. Soffit vents are placed under your roof's eaves, drip edge vents are used when your home has little or no soffit, and fascia vents are best used when your home contains no soffit at all.
Exhaust vents are placed on top of your home's roof in order to expel hot air from the attic. The most commonly used types of exhaust vents are ridge vents, static roof vents, hip ridge vents, gable vents, and turbine or whirlybird vents. Ridge vents are placed at the top of a roof's peak and are covered by the roof's shingles, static roof vents are similarly placed on the highest peak of a roof but are not disguised by shingles, gable vents are triangle-shaped and located at the peak of a roof's shingles, and whirlybird vents are wind turbines that rely on the wind for power. All types have their pros and cons, so it is best to enlist the help of a professional when deciding what is best for your home's attic and roof ventilation system.
As previously mentioned, attic ventilation is crucial to maintaining the quality and efficiency of your home and all of its working parts. Not only will it ensure peak performance in terms of heating and cooling; additionally, it will help to deter moisture issues in your attic (and roof) and thus to prevent damage to your home's structure for years to come!