The roof is essential a system that works around the clock to keep homes cool in the summer, warm in the winter, and dry throughout all types of weather. However, we don’t want to forget the importance that roofing ventilation plays with roof replacement. It’s essential for the health of your roof and attic, and lack of ventilation can have a dramatic impact on energy bills.
How Does Air Access the Attic?
Roof vents are strategically placed to maximize airflow through the roof in the most efficient way possible. Fresh airflow has several entry points through roof vents, including:
- Ridge vent: This vent helps prevent rot in the attic and the roof deck. It also reduces peeling of exterior and interior paint. This vent style is one of the most cost effective ways to remove excess heat during the hot summer months. For example, A Cobra Ridge Vent limits the growth of harmful mold and safeguards your attic possessions against mildew damage. It can guard against ice damming in our harsh winter climates and promotes energy efficiency by reducing excessive heat in the attic.
- Gable vent: These vents are both functional and aesthetic. These are visible on the front of the house or a roof and add architectural interest to the home. They are typically installed in an area where two slopes of the roof form a triangle.
- Soffit vent: This is a vent that is installed on the underside of the home’s eaves, otherwise known as the soffit. The purpose of soffit is to block wind-driven rain and moisture from entering the attic, which is critically important in coastal areas such as New England. You can find these installed as individual vents or as vents that run continuously to the full length of the soffit. Continuous soffit vents are best for cold climates since warm air that’s next to heated siding can rise and melt snow from the roof—resulting in ice dams in the winter.
Once air makes its way through one or more of the roof vents, it circulates through the attic and helps the home breathe.
How Does Air Circulate Through the Attic?
This diagram from Green Building Advisor shows how airflow may enter through the soffit vents and into the attic space. While air isn’t necessarily smart enough to follow this exact path indicated by the arrows, it shows the significance of roof ventilation and soffit ventilation for the attic space.
Once the air flows through the soffit vent and into the attic, it’s able to escape through the ridge vents on top of the roof. This is an ideal situation that keeps airflow circulating through the attic space, keeping the home at a comfortable temperature while keeping utility bills low.
The key is to have both outtake and intake vents for air to properly circulate. It eliminates moisture that can result in wood rot or ruining personal belongings, prevents ice dams, and reduces the energy used by your HVAC system to heat and cool the home.
What Happens to Homes Without Attic Airflow?
While it’s true that the home’s thermal envelope should be airtight to conserve energy, this isn’t necessarily the case with the roof. In fact, it’s critical to allow air to pass through the roof and attic space for several reasons:
- No airflow through the roof will cause the roof surface temperature to skyrocket during the summer months—leading to high utility bills that continue to climb along with the temperature. During the hottest days of the year, asphalt roofing can reach very high temperatures. According to the Department of Energy, your roof can be 50 degrees hotter than the outside temperature. This intense heat can lead to problems such as bucking, curling, and cracking of the shingles. Shingles can become destroyed under these circumstances in as little as two years.
- Lack of roof ventilation can also make the attic astronomically hot during the summer. Little or no airflow only contributes to the heat while causing shingles to buckle.
- Without airflow in the attic, moisture can build up and eventually turn into condensation on surfaces such as rafter beams, leading to possible (and major) complications with water damage. According to the CDC, a well-ventilated and non-leaky roof is one of the best ways to control mold in the home. Otherwise, mold exposure subjects your family to potential symptoms such as upper respiratory complications, lung disease, and even cancer.
An attic space without airflow is a recipe for disaster in most cases. It’s needed to cool the roof temperature and even help prevent ice dams during the winter. The attic space should be cool and ideally at or below outdoor temperature. This is a sign that heat is escaping during the summer—which is key to keeping utility bills low during the hottest times of year.
Save More Energy with Roofing Ventilation
Having the appropriate attic insulation, baffling, soffit vents, and ridge vents is your home’s best bet for battling against ice dams and hot attics. In New England, this is extremely important for homeowners.
If you suspect that your roof is the culprit for high utility bills, you’ll want to call Coastal Windows & Exteriors to discuss your options. Our roofs are designed to increase airflow while lasting a lifetime—which maximizes your investment and lowers energy consumption in the home. If your attic is overheating, then you’re overpaying on your energy bills.