Roof Ventilation: Is Your Roof Working Properly?

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Roof Ventilation With Brotherhood Roofing

Roof ventilation is an important part of your home, but in many homes across Texas, vents are working improperly (or worse, not working at all). When roof vents don’t do their jobs, energy costs can skyrocket; roof materials can become damaged, and the temperature inside the home can fluctuate. 

Ice dams can form on the roof during winter, the attic can become unbearably hot during the summer, and you can face all kinds of other problems throughout the year. So how can you tell if your roof is properly ventilated – and more importantly, what can you do if it’s not?

Roof Ventilation With Brotherhood Roofing

Roof Ventilation: One of the Most Important Aspects in Your Roof’s Integrity

Attic ventilation is essential to a properly functioning roof. Vents keep air flowing naturally between indoor and outdoor spaces; that cuts down on moisture build-up and reduces the chance of mold growth, keeps temperatures constant in the attic and in your home, and reduces the potential for ice damming that can cause irreparable damage to your roof and the rest of your home’s structure. 

Good roof ventilation:

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Ice Dams Due to Poor Roof Ventilation

Ice dams occur when it’s cold outside and there’s been some precipitation. When warm air from your attic melts the snow on your roof, the snowmelt can re-freeze before it reaches your gutters.

Over time, water re-freezing at the edge of the roof creates an ice barrier, which then holds in more melted snow; when that refreezes, you have an ice dam. Ice dams cause serious roof damage; in fact, they can even damage the interior space in your attic or the inside of your home.

If your roof is properly vented, warm air can escape your attic. It won’t stick around long enough to melt the snow on your roof.

Poor Roof Ventilation Leading to Super-Hot Attic Air

During the summer, attics get hot – that’s natural. However, when there’s no way for heat to escape (and no way for fresh air to come in), the heat becomes unbearable for your roofing materials. Heat buildup can damage shingles, insulation and other materials, which can cause them to degrade.

When your roofing materials degrade, they can’t protect your home. However, properly working roofing vents will let super-heated air escape and prevent damage.

Indoor Temperature Extremes From an Improperly Vented Roof

Improperly vented roofs often cause indoor temperature extremes. That’s because your heating and cooling system has to work extra-hard to deal with the ultra-cold or extremely hot air in your attic, which comes in through the ceiling of your home. Your energy bills will keep climbing when your HVAC system needs to compensate for a bad roof ventilation system.

Types of Air Flow Under a Roof

There are two main types of air flow beneath a roof: Mechanical and natural. Mechanical ventilation requires a power source to work, while natural air flow relies on strategically placed vents that take advantage of physics to work. The major components of a roof ventilation system include:

In most homes with a vapor barrier, there should be one roof vent for every 300 square feet of space. If there’s no vapor barrier installed, most homes should have one roof vent for every 150 square feet of space. Every home is different, though, so you may need to talk to your roofing contractor to make sure your space has adequate ventilation.

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How Can You Tell if Your Roof Ventilation System is Working Properly?

If it’s been a while since a professional has inspected your roof, you should schedule a free roof inspection now. In the meantime, you can check your roof vents’ performance using these tricks:

1. Touch your ceiling on a nice, sunny day. If your ceiling feels warm to the touch, there’s a good chance that your attic is holding a lot of heat. That can be a sign that your vents aren’t working the way they should – and it’s cause for concern, because your shingles and roofing materials are being heated from both sides.

2. Inspect your attic when temperatures dip below freezing. Look for frost or dampness in your attic; there shouldn’t be any if your vents are working properly. Typically, frost and damp air are signs that warm air is coming up from your home and condensing on your rafters or roof sheathing.

3. Look at your roof from the outside. It can be tough to spot roof vents but check out the ridges and the eaves (those are the edges that hang over your exterior walls). If you don’t see any, you probably need to call a professional roof inspector to check for you.

4. Watch for ice dams during winter. If ice forms ridges on your eaves, or if you see icicles throughout the season, you may have a roof ventilation problem that you need a professional to fix.

What to Do if You Think Your Roof Ventilation System Isn’t Working

If you suspect that your roof’s ventilation system isn’t working properly (or at all), your best bet is to get in touch with a roofing contractor to check things out. Your roofer will send a trained inspector to examine your roof vents and look for symptoms of an improperly working system – and if there’s a problem, you can expect your inspector to explain the issue and give you an estimate to fix it.

Learn More:

How Do I Know If I Need A Roof Replacement?

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