The Top Problems Lurking Inside Your Attic

Most homeowners can hardly believe how much a healthy roof and home hinges on the attic. Roof ventilation and attic insulation impact all aspects of your home from its strength and durability to its energy efficiency and utility bills to its interior climate and overall comfort. Neglecting either one puts your attic, roof, and home at risk of major issues from mold growth to pest invasion. A regular attic inspection prevents the top problems lurking inside your attic.

Drifting and uneven insulation

A healthy attic and roof demand properly installed and evenly distributed insulation. Drifting or uneven cellulose or blown fiberglass can lower your insulation’s R-Value (its measure of heat resistance), impact air movement throughout your home, raise your energy bills, and make your living space less comfortable.

If you spot this common problem, hire a professional for an attic inspection to evaluate, improve, and bring your insulation back up to code.

Excessive Heat

In the summer, an attic without proper ventilation can trap the heat created by the sun beating on the roof and also the heat that rises from the rest of your home. Excessive heat pushed downward into your living space raises both your interior climate and utility bills.

The problem of excessive heat also costs you in less obvious ways. For example, an overworked air conditioner that works double duty to counteract excessive heat and cool your living space often requires more frequent repairs and replacements.

Minimize excessive heat by checking your cooling equipment along with a regular attic inspection

Pests

Rats, mice, squirrels, bats, and other pests love to nest and breed in dark and inhabited fiberglass and cellulose insulation.

Block or close any entry points to make your attic a less attractive space for rodents and pests. And when your insulation becomes a food source for unwelcomed critters, swap it out for a less appetizing material. (As part of an attic inspection, a certified contractor can help you select the best insulation to deter pests.)

Air leaks and gaps

In the winter, air leaks and gaps in your attic encourage the warm air inside your home to gravitate towards the cooler air outside, raising your heating bills to compensate for the heat loss. The same problem happens to your cooling costs in the summer, when the warm, humid air from outside leaks into the attic. Both the hot and cold seasons warrant an attic inspection.

Since 99% of attic moisture moves through air flow, sealing any leaks or gaps around the windows, chimney flashing, and other utility components — including in the cellulose and behind the fiberglass insulation — can prevent the next top problem lurking in your attic: mold and mildew.

Moisture, mold, and mildew

The most common type of mold lurking in your attic is black mold, which grows when excess moisture lingers. Beware of small black dots in moist areas, which can quickly spread and take over your attic space.

Condensation builds when cold winter air in the attic meets rising moist, warm air from below (often caused by cooking, heating, and showering). Condensation can drip and turn to mold, wafting unhealthy and potentially dangerous mold into your living space.

More than rot your home’s structural wood components, excessive and accumulating condensation and moisture can deteriorate your entire roofing system from the decking and supports to the underlayment and shingles.

Your best defense against moisture, mold, and mildew is proper attic ventilation. Therefore, you can add blocked vents to the list of top problem lurking in your attic.

Blocked vents

A durable, healthy attic with limited moisture troubles demands proper airflow leading outside.

Blocked vents hoard humidity inside your home, rather than allowing it to escape. Warm, humid, inside air trapped in your attic puts your insulation into contact with moisture, leading to mold and mildew growth.

The most common culprits: boxes, insulation, and debris. During an attic inspection, make sure no materials block the vents. And if you install insulation over a vent, place a rafter down first so the air can flow.

Rust

Moisture — caused by condensation on the inside of the attic — can also rust (and break) nails and other metal roof components, resulting in shingle loss and other problems. Your home’s plumbing, heating, and venting duct straps are also vulnerable to rusting, breaking, and other types of moisture damage.

Ice dams

Ice dams form when snow on top of your home melts, runs down your roof, and refreezes near the edge. (Food for thought: ice dams only happen when the roof warms enough to melt the snow — above 32 degrees — but the roof edge remains below freezing.)

Any ice build-up that pushes under the shingles can cause major damage when it melts. If you spot an ice dam during an attic inspection, beware of a major insulation problem lurking in your attic.

More insulation can help maintain the temperature inside your attic. A ridge vent paired with continuous soffit vents can solve the same problem by circulating the cold air throughout the attic. Place baffles at the eaves to maintain a clear path for the airflow from the soffit vents.

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