Attic Ventilation 101: What Homeowners Need to Know

Attic ventilation may be low on your homeowner’s attention list when there are so many things to think about and you don’t use your attic as living space. But attic ventilation has a huge impact on your home’s heating and cooling. It can also be a factor in costly ice dams on your roof in the winter.

What is attic ventilation and why should we worry about it?

Attic ventilation has to do with the airflow in your attic. Can warm air escape and cool air enter?

Is moisture being trapped or can it exhaust? You’ll want proper airflow in your attic to keep things as cool and dry as possible.

image of home attic ventilation.

There are different types of attic ventilation

Think of your attic ventilation as an efficient system. Different types of attic ventilation can affect your home. There should be a proper system for air intake in certain vents and air exhaust out of other vents, depending on the style of home. This must be a balanced system to work properly.

In the New England area, a common system includes a ridge vent at the peak of your roof to let the hot air out (warm air rises), while allowing the cooler outside air to flow in through the lower soffit vents or gable vents (or a combination of the two).  

In order to work well, the ventilation system must include both intake and exhaust vents. Without both elements, the air will not flow naturally.

Attic Ventilation Photo. What's New in Roofing for 2023? GGR attended the NERCA Conference earlier this year.

Can poor different types of attic ventilation damage your home?

Having a really hot attic is more than just unpleasant and inconvenient. It can actually wreak havoc on your home. In the summertime, the attic can become so hot and full of moisture that mold and mildew begin to grow in your attic. The moisture can even condense around attic materials, causing rust, rot, or discoloration.

It can even affect your roofing system. If the entire attic and roof system become unbearably hot, it can actually melt roofing and attic components and materials.

Lastly, here in New England, homes are susceptible to ice dams. This occurs when there is a large build up of snow on the roof, but the attic is extremely warm. When the heat from the attic and roofing system touch the snow, the bottom layer of the snowpack begins to melt. 

Following the natural flow of gravity, the water will drip down under the snowpack until it hits the cold gutter – and refreezes.  This build up of ice around the gutters and roof edge can cause dangerous and costly water build up – which can eventually start leaking into your home. 

Sometimes roof warranties don’t cover attic ventilation problems

Depending on the warranty, sometimes the manufacturer warranty won’t cover problems that are caused by improper roof installation or roof ventilation. If you’re investing in a new roof, it’s a great time to address any roof ventilation issues that may exist. 

Attic ventilation can even affect your health

Although if your attic is out of sight, it really is a part of your whole house system. Good attic ventilation can help bring in fresh air and remove all of that hot air and indoor pollution.  

Older homes vs. newer homes 

While newer construction should have properly ventilated attics, many older homes don’t have sufficient ventilation systems. If you have an older home, you’ll want to make sure that you have ridge vents, soffit vents, and/or gable vents and the airflow is functioning properly.

Some older homes have “whole house fans,” which will ventilate air out of the top of the house. This draws in cooler air from the bottom of the house. Other homes have attic fans. While these may be good solutions, if the whole system isn’t working properly, the homeowner won’t see the benefits. 

Newer homes may have better insulation or come with central air conditioning, which will affect the attic ventilation as well. 

Get an expert evaluation by calling Golden Group today.

Sometimes it’s good to get a professional attic ventilation inspection. Professionals can recommend improvements such as additional ventilation, improving insulation (to keep the heat from the house rising to the attic), sealing air leaks, and even fans in certain cases.

Our team at Golden Group Roofing can inspect your attic and  If you’re a homeowner in the Greater Boston or Worcester area, call 508-873-1884 or get a free estimate online.