Why is Attic Ventilation Important?

Ken Black

From reducing energy bills to extending the life of a roof, attic ventilation is an extremely important component of keeping a house in good condition. With the potential energy loss in a home through the attic capable of reaching a ratio of greater than 40 percent, this statistic alone points to the fact that attic ventilation is very important. In addition to energy efficiency, ventilated attics help keep the home safe and free from structural damage. An inefficient attic is capable of costing the homeowner hundreds of dollars a year or more.

If an attic gets too hot for too long, the heat may begin to break down asphalt shingles.
If an attic gets too hot for too long, the heat may begin to break down asphalt shingles.

To counteract this inefficiency, proper attic ventilation, along with insulation, is often used to provide another barrier between the home and the outside elements. While the attic does this somewhat all by itself, the ventilation helps keep the air in the upper regions of the home from becoming too stagnant, and getting to be one temperature extreme or the other. In some cases, the air temperature of an attic that does not have proper ventilation can approach 160 degrees Fahrenheit (approximately 71 degrees Celsius).

Black toxic mold can form on wood, fabrics and other surfaces in a poorly ventilated attic.
Black toxic mold can form on wood, fabrics and other surfaces in a poorly ventilated attic.

Another important consideration is extending the life of the roof. When an attic gets too hot, and that hot air stays in the attic for an extended amount of time, the heat can begin to break down asphalt shingles. This is one of the main reasons for premature shingle failure. Making matters even worse is that most shingle manufacturers will void a warranty if there is not adequate attic insulation. This may be the case with the vast majority of homes currently in existence.

In addition to heat, attic ventilation is also helpful in keeping the moisture content equal with the outside environment, meaning condensation and mildew are less likely in a properly ventilated attic. Moisture and mildew can cause health problems. Thus, having adequate attic ventilation is one way to stay healthier, especially if members of the home have allergies to mold and mildew.

Moisture may not only be hazardous to the occupants of the home, it may be hazardous to the home itself. Excessive moisture can cause wood to rot and warp, and this may be further irritated by extreme temperatures in attics. Warping of roof trusses can lead to a very expensive repair, which may not only require an experienced professional, but may even displace a family until the repair is made. Rotting wood sometimes provides an attractive environment for certain types of harmful insects, so keeping the wood in good shape is often a top priority for any homeowner.

Poor attic ventilation can result in health issues, including headaches.
Poor attic ventilation can result in health issues, including headaches.

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