A Comprehensive Guide to Improving your Attic Ventilation

Ventilation is essential to your entire home. If the living space has poor ventilation, you may notice stagnant air or inconsistent room temperatures.

However, if the attic has poor air flow, would you notice at all?

How often are you climbing into your attic and to test the air above your living room?

Taking a proactive approach to your ventilation is essential, and with the right information, you can make a positive impact on your home. Whether you choose natural or powered ventilation, it’s important that you understand the benefits of air flowing through your attic.

attic ventilation installation

The Risks of Poor Attic Ventilation

If we’re going to discuss attic ventilation improvements, it’s important that we start by establishing the risks associated with poor attic ventilation. After all, there is a lot of work involved, so we might as well understand why we’re making such a fuss over air moving through the attic.

Poor attic ventilation can cause issues that affect your entire home. Excessive heat throughout the living space, for example, is probably the most common problem caused by lack of attic ventilation. When the weather is hot, poor ventilation means that air cannot escape the attic. Instead of hot air escaping to the outside, it seeps into the home, causing increased heat or, if you are running the air conditioner, an increased utility bill.

Mold is also a concern for poor attic ventilation. Mold generally prefers stagnant, non-moving air, and it loves when the air is moist. When air is not allowed to escape through attic vents, it can create the increased chance of mold in your home. This is especially problematic in cold winter months, when moist warm air from the living space is held in the attic.

The unreleased moisture that causes mold can also increase the chances of wood rot, causing structural damage to areas such as the roof beams, floor boards, and ceiling boards. Moisture can also damage items stored in the attic.

Some of the most damaging problems caused by poor attic ventilation are ice dams. Ice dams form when unvented heat that escapes from poorly insulated attics melts snow on the roof. This might not seem like a major issue, but when the water refreezes at the edge of the roof, it causes a dam that blocks flow, creating a heavy burden on the structure.

These are just a few of the potential problems that can occur if you have poor ventilation in your home. Fortunately, you can do something about it, and it starts with understanding the cause.

Attic Ventilation: The Measurements

So how much ventilation do you actually need? Part of the process is understanding your current ventilation status, and one of the most useful tools for measuring ventilation comes from Owens Corning, a roofing, insulation, and building-parts manufacturer.

They have a convenient Ventilation Calculator that allows you to measure exactly how much ventilation you need for your home. With this tool, you can have an attic with the ideal amount of ventilation.

Simply enter the square footage of your attic, then enter your ventilation requirements. You can then enter exhaust systems and intake systems and you’ll get the information you need for the ideal attic ventilation.

attic ladder

Checking Your Attic Ventilation

Does your home’s attic ventilation meet your needs? Based on the information you acquired from the calculator, you can inspect the attic space to see if you need to make changes.

In general, the attic space will show signs if it does not have ideal ventilation. If you see attic rafters and ceiling joists that are damp, it’s a sign that you need to improve your ventilation. You may also see signs of mold, another indication that there is not enough movement in the air.

Although moisture tends to be more present during cold and rainy seasons, it is possible for mold to thrive in any season, especially indoor in a controlled climate.

Separate some of the insulation from the walls; if you see signs of mold, you may need to make changes to improve ventilation.

Vent openings are also extremely important for proper ventilation. If vents are blocked by items like leaves or pieces of insulation, it can stop air from flowing freely. Inspect and clean your vents to make sure there is enough space for air to flow through. Take a step ladder and climb to the side of the house to check the soffit vents. If they are clogged, an old paintbrush is a useful tool; jam the long bristles into the vent opening to dislodge anything that is blocking the path. If you can see blockage that you can’t reach from the outside, go to the inside of the attic and dislodge it; remember to use gloves when handling pieces of fiberglass insulation. Attics that have lots of insulation blockage may need baffles to keep pieces from creating blockage in the future.

Another indicator of attic ventilation is the attic’s temperature. The air circulating through the attic helps control both moisture and temperature, especially in summer. If you have vents that are not providing enough circulation, the attic can reach temperatures over 140 degrees or more on hot, sunny days, which will significantly impact the comfort in your home. There is no exact temperature to watch for, but if you notice the attic getting extremely hot on warm days, you may need to improve the attic’s ventilation.

Improving Your Attic’s Ventilation

These are some of the products you can install to improve overall ventilation in your attic.

Installing Roof Vents

Adding roof vents to your attic will give you a significant boost to overall ventilation. To install these vents, you basically need to cut a hole in the right place and install the product. Start by marking the location of the vents with a nail so you know, from both inside and out, where the roof vent will be located. Cut the shingles with a utility knife and cut a hole in the roof boards; you may have to drill a starter hole to insert the saw blade. Remove any obstructions and slide the vent into place. Now install the vent and add any sealer or cement required to lock out moisture.

Install Soffit Vents

Soffit vents are also effective for increasing attic ventilation. To install these vents, you’ll have to start by cutting holes where they will be placed. You’ll then be able to screw the soffit vents into place with the fins pointing towards the house. If you want, you can paint the vents to match the siding or house paint, creating a clean, seamless look for your home. Inside the attic, you’ll need to install baffles, which are stapled between the rafters so air can flow through the attic and past insulation.

Ridge Vents

The peaks of your roof are called the “ridges.” Considering that hot air rises, it makes perfect sense that one of the most effective locations for a vent is the ridge. Ridge vents are basically installed in strips that are placed along the top lines of the house. To install these products, you need to cut a one-inch strip along both sides of the ridge, which will make room for the ventilation system. When installing, be sure that there is room for air movement and that the flow is not impeded by any framing components.

gable vents

Gable Vents

The vertical wall at the side of the home is also another area where you can install a ventilation system. They are normally louvered and allow air to be drawn in while preventing water from flowing inward. These products are installed in mostly the same fashion: you’ll need to cut a hole and install the vents over the open space.

Does Attic Ventilation Contribute to Air Quality?

According to the EPA, ventilation can help remove contaminants and improve indoor air quality, creating better breathing conditions for anyone in the home. There can be many contaminants that enter the home, and some are even created or released inside the house.

For example, scented air sprays can be full of toxins and VOCs; even products advertised as “green” or “natural” have been found to hold harmful chemicals. If you use these sprays in the home, you are releasing chemicals that either float in the air or settle on surfaces; the only practical way to get rid of them (or at least dilute them) is through ventilation. Even products that you wouldn’t consider, such as new carpeting, can release chemicals into the air and cause an issue with health.

Ventilation, however, can help, as it releases these chemicals to the outside. The introduction of outdoor air and the expulsion of indoor air is essential. Ventilation can come in many forms, and simply opening a window will result in fresher, healthier air. (Assuming the outdoor air quality is not poor.) A common product to improve indoor air is a attic floor whole house fan.

While natural ventilation may not create a noticeable breeze in your living space, it can help move air through the home to create better circulation through the entire house. If you want to improve ventilation even further, you can consider installing an attic fan to improve the overall quality and health of the home.

Air Purification to Complement Attic Ventilation

Attic ventilation is an important part of a home’s air quality. Another important factor is air purification. At Oransi, we are dedicated to creating the world’s finest air purifiers, so we use technology that includes HEPA filters, UV-light (to kill mold spores and other organic matter), and activated carbon.

Browse our full selection of air purifiers, or contact our team for more information on air purification for the home and office!