As mentioned in our last blog, improper attic ventilation and condensation can lead to leaks and moisture damage inside your home, and even affect your roofing system. According to some roofing professionals’ estimates, 90% of the homes in North America are improperly ventilated. Proper attic ventilation keeps them cooler in the summer, dryer in the winter, and prevents moisture buildup. Attic ventilation maintenance is another important part of ongoing roof system maintenance that can save you money in the long run. In fact, many insurance plans do not cover damage caused by ice dams. As well, roof system warranties are voided if you damage roofs or shingles while trying to remove ice dams by yourself. As you can see, prevention of ice dams through attic ventilation maintenance is important. In Ottawa, we have heavy snowfall and frequent melt/freeze cycles, making ice dams a major problem for building owners.
*See this video news clip which shows the extent of problems and cost concerns that can occur in the Ottawa area.
Problems caused by lack of attic ventilation maintenance include:
- Ice dams. These lead to ripped and damaged exterior roofs and gutters, as well as to water damage to the roof and the interior walls and ceilings. Ice dams are the buildup of solid ice along the edges of the roof eaves and gutters. This is caused by poor attic ventilation. The heat from the attic can’t escape so it is trapped in the roofing system, and melts ice even when outdoor temperatures are below freezing. In this way, snow and ice melt on the warm roof, and then turn quickly to ice on the cold eaves, building up as the cycle repeats. This buildup prevents snow and ice from running off the roof when even more of it melts. Then the runoff forces its way up beneath the shingles, and through the underlying structures into the ceiling below. Water damage can be extensive. And expensive.
- Condensation inside the attic. This causes water damage to building interior walls and ceilings. This damage includes rot of supporting structures.
- Mold and mildew.
- Algae stains.
- Damage to insulation, roof underlayment and decking.
- Poor ventilation in the home.
Signs you may need attic ventilation maintenance:
Inside the attic or crawlspace:
- Mold, mildew, and algae stains on walls, ceilings and interior plywood
- Musty smells
- Black rings or rust around nails in the attic. This is one of the first signs of condensation.
- Ice on nail heads in the attic during cold weather.
- Signs of bird nests or animals, suggesting both holes in the roof system and clogged vents.
- Vents clogged with paint, spider webs, dust or insulation.
- Wet attic insulation when there hasn’t been any rain.
- Poor ventilation throughout the building, causing moisture to condense and build up.
Outside the building:
- Blistering and peeling of exterior paint as a result of the buildup of moisture.
- Decay of roof shingles, sheathing, or siding as a result of excess moisture under the roof decking.
- Ice dams.
Types of attic/ventilation maintenance:
- Measures of air circulation are taken. Size of vents are checked against the square footage of your attic. Both jobs are best left to roofing professionals.
- Soffits and fascia are cleared and repaired. Fascia are the caps along the eaves that gutters are attached to, but they also connect with the soffits. Soffits are the finished surfaces beneath the eaves showing vents as slits or holes in a regular pattern. Vented soffits allow air to circulate from the outside of the roof through to the attic ventilation system.
- Vents are cleared and repaired. Storage items must be moved and kept permanently away from vents. Attic intake vents and exhaust vents must be cleared and checked to see that they are working together to circulate and exchange air. There are various kinds: e.g., ridge vents, roof vents, box vents, each with their own pros and cons. Attics showing signs of condensation are checked for improper venting of other areas of the house into the attic (e.g., bathrooms). Such openings are sealed or re-vented as needed.
- Installation of new vents if necessary, requiring a multi-step process beginning with cutting areas of the roof, fitting the vents, and making the vents and roof watertight and windproof with ridge caps and specialized equipment.
- Insulation is checked for moisture, presence of vapour barrier, and distance from the roof sheathing. A two inch clearance is necessary between insulation and roof sheathing for proper air circulation. Insulation can be replaced if necessary.
What the Ottawa Roofing Professionals at McArthur Construction can do for you:
Maintenance by professional Ottawa roofers will save you money by preventing problems that would cost you much more if left untended. As well, should you have an ice dam and damage crisis, your insurance company may be more likely to cover part of the costs of both repairs and emergency ice dam removal if you have shown responsible ownership through regular attic ventilation maintenance and ice dam removal. (Note: every situation and insurance company is different. Check your policy and discuss it with your insurance company). Hiring a professional roofing company to remove snow and ice will also protect your warranties, and keep you safe and off of icy roofs in winter conditions. McArthur Construction’s CertainTeed professionals can provide you with comprehensive services such as:
- Soffit and fascia installation and repair.
- Clearing, repair, and replacement of vents.
- Water damage repair both inside and outside the building, including the attic.
- Repair to roof and gutter systems as a result of condensation and ice dams from poor ventilation.
- Ice and snow removal.
- Heated gutters as a temporary measure.
We are happy to help you with your inspection, maintenance, repair, and replacement needs. Contact us for information and estimates. We have the knowledge, training, and experience to help you meet your attic ventilation needs.
Get your FREE attic maintenance estimate from the roofing experts at McArthur Construction!