Finding the best way to ventilate an attic in your home can become a real thermal nightmare. Attics can be the site for excessive heat build-up which can lead to many problems such as increased levels of moisture, damage to the structure and roofing materials, and a higher energy bill. Luckily, with today’s building technology, these problems can be avoided by proper attic ventilation. By ventilating your attic, you can reduce mold and mildew in your home, protect your shingles, and be much more energy conservative. There are several ways to add ventilation to your attic. Some of them are simple while others are complex and costly. You can do it yourself if you are fairly familiar with basic carpentry and how to install roofing materials. Otherwise, you had better call in a professional or risk having a big hole in your roof. We’ve also written an article abotu attic radiant barriers for those interested in keeping the heat out without ventilation. But what is the best way to ventilate an attic? Here is the best system that you can install.
Attic Ventilation Systems
It is important to make sure that your attic gets enough ventilation. Current building codes state that for non-powered attic ventilation systems, you should have 1 square foot of ventilation, or net free area, for every 150 square feet of attic floor space. If your attic operates on a system where the intake vents are separate from the exhaust vents, then you need a minimum of 1 square foot of ventilation for every 300 square feet of attic floor space.
The best form of attic ventilation for your home is a balanced system where the intake vents are separate from the exhaust vents. For this kind of system you need soffit vents and ridge vents. Soffit vents are intake vents located under the outside eaves of your home. Ridge vents are the exhaust vents that are located along the ridgeline of your roof. The system operates on the simple principle that hot air rises. The air pushes up into the attic through the soffit vents and out through the ridge vents, providing a continuous flow. This way cool, dry air will replace hot, moist air. You need to make sure that you provide enough soffit vents for this to work properly.
When using this system, there are some things you must do to make it work properly. If you have gable vents, they should be closed as they can interfere with the continuous flow between soffit and ridge vents. The same goes for any power fans. If there is a fan in your attic, you should disconnect it (or just never turn it on) because it could actually cause a reverse in the airflow. Also, some people have tried installing ridge vents on the hips of their roofs. If installed this way, ridge vents are prone to leaking during bad weather. Another thing to keep in mind is to make sure you use the proper vents in the right areas. If you try to use roof louvers or other types of static vents near the eaves, this could interfere with proper air flow.
There are some disadvantages to a soffit and ridge vent system. The most important is to make sure you have enough soffit vents. You cannot have too many. It won’t hurt your attic at all if you have more intake air than you really need. But soffit vents tend to get clogged up very easily. Depending on the brand and manufacturer, soffit vents get perforated by either rolling, lancing, or punching. Punched soffit vents work best because the metal for the holes has been completely removed which allows more freedom for the air to flow and debris to pass through. If the vent has been rolled or lanced, the metal has merely been moved aside and can easily catch debris and trash which will clog up the vent.
Another problem with soffit vents is in the installation and painting. If they are not installed correctly in the eaves, they won’t function at all. Some people have installed them for merely cosmetic purposes. This leaves a solid piece of plywood behind the vent which pretty much makes it useless. When it comes to painting the eaves under your house, the holes in a soffit vent can easily get covered and sealed off by paint.
Other Attic Vents
Although a soffit and ridge attic vents are probably best sytems for your home, there are some other types of venting systems that you can try out.
- Turbine Ventilation – This type of ventilation system uses a fan to pull cool air into your attic and push hot air out. Turbine fans work really well but there are two drawbacks. One is that they take a lot of electricity in order to run so you are adding to your energy bill when you use it. The other drawback is that turbine’s require maintenance, especially as they get older.
- Solar Venting – This system is increasingly becoming more popular as it is both economically and environmentally friendly. Solar venting uses the power of the sun to run an electric mote inside the vent. The motor runs all day long and stores the sun’s energy to convert into electricity.