Did You Accidentally buy a Sauna? Attic Ventilation and Insulation

Posted by Roofco April 23, 2019

‟My house is a tiny one-story house that sits in the great suburb. Although it looks more like a square ranch with a basement, am tempted to call it a bungalow every time I look at it.  Much as I love my little bungalow, it’s a heat box. During winter, my heating bills are minimal and when summer comes, my AC works overtime. Recently, my central air conditioning suddenly stopped working. There is very little airflow through the house and my square ranch seems to hold onto heat never letting go.” Now I can’t help but wonder: ‟Did I accidentally buy a sauna?”

This is a typical example of an attic that has poor ventilation or no ventilation altogether.  The attic is the most misunderstood feature in a home. Some people decide to turn it into a home office, while others decide to make it a storehouse for antique things like the old maps that demonstrate to you how to get Willie’s treasure, and just maybe that’s how the movie ‘’Goonies’’ came about. Nothing wrong with any of these uses but this article is about a standard house with an uncomplicated plain old attic. The attic is the hat of your house, keeping all the heat inside-or out- depending on the season.

Your roof and attic happens to be the hottest parts of a house and for this reason, they transfer heat to the rest of the building. In the sweltering months of summer, the sun beats directly on the roof as it crosses the sky at very high arcs. The results are heated up roof shingles and the attic below. Of course, shingles of lighter shades reflect more heat than darker ones but this does not eliminate the need for proper ventilation. Lack or poor attic ventilation can cause temperatures to rise in about 150F.

Cooling the attic calls for either passive or active ventilation. With passive ventilation cooler air is drawn in through grilles or soffit vents beneath the eaves. To have sufficient air flow during the heat out of the roof ridge cap vents or roof vents, it’s crucial to have enough openings. In instances where the amount of airflow is insufficient, bents can be added. These contain electric fans that can be operated by a thermostat or a switch. The downside of electric fans is that they can be quite costly and may also suck too much air-conditioned air from the building into the attic.

But even with proper attic ventilation, you may still experience uncomfortable heat or cold depending on the season. This is where insulation comes in.  Attic insulation is not just reserved for cold climates. Insulation is a thermal barrier so it also helps keep homes cool in the summer. Think of this; wearing a coat prevents your body heat from dissipating, therefore keeping you warm. Heat always moves towards cold and not the other way round. So, as your air conditioner keeps your home cool during the hot months, insulation helps stop hot air from making its way inside. Insulation slows convection and conduction and this is how it performs the double duty of keeping your house cooler during summer and warmer in winter.

Ventilating and insulation your attic requires careful planning and execution. If you resonate with the story up there, only an experienced roofer can end your suffering.