Adequate ventilation is one of the most commonly concepts in the roofing industry; it is designed to facilitate and balance air flow in the attic. Just like humans, attic space requires that air be drawn in and expelled out. The problem is that residential buildings have a passive system that needs an adequate amount of soffit intake and ridge exhaust vents to balance this process. There are several ways to ensure that a roof has the proper amount of air exchanges, including having an expert perform a detailed assessment.
Many contractors believe that one of the primary causes of premature roof failure is a poor ventilation system. Proper installation of ventilation is necessary for the attic to breathe by drawing colder air in and displacing warmer air upward towards the peak. An inadequate ventilation system can cause several undesirable future problems.
- Utilities – At the top of this list is increased utility consumption as the HVAC must work harder to offset any ventilation imbalances.
- Structural Damage – Alarmingly close to the #1 position is structural damage such as warping or buckling due to condensation and moisture build-up.
- Mold and Mildew – As a logical consequence of condensation and moisture, mildew and mold can form which is very dangerous to the health of the occupants.
- Ice Dams – Poor ventilation can contribute to the development of ice dams, which can lead to serious damage to the building.
- Warranties – Worse yet, many manufacturers will void any warranty terms if the house has an inadequate amount of air circulation.
To have a good ventilation system, arrangement and size should be based on the design of the roof and the total attic area. The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) has set the 1/150 International Building Code requirement to obtain proper airflow, which translates to one square foot of intake opening per one hundred-square feet of attic space.
To ensure that the system is properly ventilating and balanced, once the right amount of attic ventilation has been determined it is essential to install fifty percent of the vents on the ridge/exhaust area and fifty percent on the soffit/intake area. The system should be inspected periodically to ensure that the airflow path has not become obstructed.
When condensation develops in crawl spaces and becomes severe, it is commonly linked to poor ventilation. Condensation can cause rotting to major supporting structures such as trusses, rafters, ceiling joists, and ridge boards; structural collapse or premature failure of the roofing structure could happen.
Improper roof ventilation can gradually lower the ideal life expectancy of the entire roofing system, increase utility bills, and place residents in an uncomfortable living environment. Contacting experts could be the best way to ensure that the roof is breathing correctly. This must be done to protect the building and its occupants from damage and keep the building in top shape!
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