Most of us take attic ventilation for granted, but if your roof gets ice dams during very cold and snowy weather, or the attic gets superheated in the summer, chances are your attic isn’t properly ventilated.
Ice dams occur when an overly warm attic melts snow near the peak of the roof. That melted snow flows down the roof and then refreezes near the roof edge, since the attic warmth has less effect here. This causes additional melted snow to pool up behind the so-called ice dam, where it eventually will find its way into your attic and living spaces. This can create mold and wood rot, compromise insulation, and otherwise damage your roof, attic and home.
It may seem counter intuitive to want enough attic venting to keep the attic cold in the winter, since it’s part of your home’s structure that you want warm. But venting the attic keeps ice dams at bay and in warmer months, helps stop excess humidity from entering the attic, setting the stage for mold growth and keeping the attic somewhat cooler.
It’s a good idea to check your attic’s insulation to verify that it’s not blocking any of the attic soffit vents. If you use an attic fan and those vents are blocked, instead of drawing in air from the outside, the fan will pull air through the slightest cracks and openings in your attic floor and home’s ceilings instead, increasing your energy bills.
In the winter, if attic ventilation is blocked, not as much cool air will get into your attic and any heat from leaking or poorly insulated air ducts will warm it, as will as leaky vent pipes from fans, flues or the chimney. These leaks warm the attic, potentially causing ice dams. Air sealing the attic will help prevent heat transfer, winter and summer, and if you have leaking ducts, sealing them, too, will stop thermal and air losses.
Sealing ducts also will improve air quality. Duct leaks can pull dust and debris into your home’s air, and if you use vented gas appliances, can backdraft carbon monoxide into your home. Insects and vermin can get into ducts, as well.
To learn more about attic ventilation, contact the pros at Overland Park Heating & Cooling, providing trusted HVAC services for homeowners in the greater Kansas City area since 1983.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Overland Park, Kansas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).
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