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How much do you know about roofing ventilation? Unless you’re a contractor or someone who has worked in the roofing industry, chances are you’re not exactly an expert in the field. And that’s perfectly okay! However, to keep your home heating and cooling bills low, it is important to know a few tips and tricks to make sure your roof vents are working hard for you.

At Model City Roofing, we’re the roofing authority in North Florida and Tennessee.  We’re here to make sure you have all the information necessary to keep your home in the best shape possible. This blog will break down why making sure your roof has the proper roofing ventilation is important, the types of problems you can run into when your roof isn’t properly vented, and the different types of roof vents to choose from when building or remodeling your home. Let’s get started!

Ventilation 101

When it comes to creating airflow within your attic, there are two primary methods homeowners can choose: mechanical or natural. Mechanical ventilation requires electricity, such as using a fan, while natural ventilation occurs when a roof is constructed in such a way as to allow air to circulate without a power source.

Creating natural ventilation can be done in two ways: the stack effect and the wind effect. The stack effect occurs when higher pressured hot air is forced to the top of the attic, allowing for cooler, low-pressure air to enter. The hot air that escapes from the attic is known as exhaust, while the cooler air that enters is known as intake. The wind effect occurs when the wind blows against the outside of the roof, increasing the amount of exhaust and intake. The relationship between intake and exhaust make use of the natural flow of air to create a balanced climate within the attic space and ensuring proper roofing ventilation.

Vent Types

The types of roofing ventilation systems depend on a variety of things, including the area’s climate, roof and ceiling designs, and city code requirements where the home is located. The two main types of ventilation are exhaust vents and intake vents. Ridge vents, installed where two roof planes meet, are the most common style of exhaust vents. Typically made from high-impact copolymer, ridge vents are installed under the final layer of shingles to best disguise their appearance. In fact, ridge vents are often so well hidden that they can seem invisible to the untrained eye.

Additional styles of exhaust vents include roof louvers, wind turbines, power attic ventilators, and gable louvers — though these types are mounted to the outside of the roof and are much easier to notice compared to ridge vents.  Roof and gable louvers are similar to ridge vents in that they do not require a power source. While wind turbines also run without the use of electricity, they are best suited for areas that receive a constant source of wind. As indicated by its name, power attic ventilators utilize electricity and are made for certain roof designs or homes in locations that do not receive much wind.

Intake vents are easily camouflaged due to their location on your roof. Just like ridge vents, intake vents are made from copolymer material. They are often placed on the roof’s edges, including under the soffit in the eaves, under the shingles, or at the drip edge. Intake vents allow cool air to flow into the attic space, forcing warmer air to escape through the exhaust vents.

Get Ahead of the Game

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s dig a little deeper into some of the hows and whys of roofing ventilation. Have you ever looked at your roof and noticed a fan under the eaves, or taken notice of your roof’s ridge cap? Whether you’ve observed these features or not, what you may not know is that unfortunately, most homes aren’t equipped with the proper amount of airflow within their attics. This means not only are homeowners subject to increased energy bills, but they can also be causing damage to their home as well. That’s why it’s important to be proactive when thinking about the amount of ventilation your attic experiences. If you’re located in Florida or Tennessee, we can help you figure out exactly how much ventilation your home should have, and whether or not it’s receiving it. If it isn’t up to par, our licensed expert roofing contractors can give you a free estimate on what it will take to make it right. Not located in our coverage area? Don’t worry. This post will help make sure you have all of the information necessary to ask a professional in your area what the best options are for you.

Why Ventilate Your Attic

The space between your ceilings and your roof can hold tons of stale air. Unfortunately, that air also traps heat and moisture. Ensuring the proper roofing ventilation helps guarantee that stale and humid air can easily pass through your attic rather than trapping stagnant air. Venting or a roof cap helps air move from the outside through your attic, keeping the air in the space balanced. But how much is enough when it comes to roofing ventilation? According to the Federal Housing Administration, it is recommended that homes have one square foot of both intake and exhaust for every 300 square feet of space in their attic. But what happens when your attic is lacking in ventilation? How much damage can really be done? As it turns out, quite a bit.

Lack of Ventilation

The importance of proper roofing ventilation wasn’t officially documented until the early- to mid-20th century. It was during that time that organizations including the Forest Products Laboratory, the American Society of Heating, and the Refrigerating & Air-Conditioning Engineers began to connect the dots between a lack of roofing ventilation and the wide variety of condensation problems a home can experience.

As we mentioned earlier, a lack of proper ventilation in your roof can cause an array of problems. Depending on your climate, a roof without the correct amount of ventilation can drastically increase your energy bills as well as decrease the lifespan of your roof. It can also damage the structural integrity of your home, cause dangerous mold to grow and develop, and reduce the lifespan of your roofing materials. Let’s take a closer look at some of the issues you can experience without proper roofing ventilation.

Overheating

Homes in warm climates, such as those in Florida, are at an elevated risk of damage from inadequate roofing ventilation, due to increased temperatures the home is consistently exposed to. As the sun beats down on your roof, the air temperature in your attic begins to rise. With no place to disperse the hot air, the heat pushes down into the living space of your home, causing the temperature to rise, and your air conditioning unit to work overtime to make up the difference. While it may not be a problem for homes where the weather is typically a comfortable 70 degrees in the summer, warmer climates such as those in the Florida Panhandle and even into Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee, can see a noticeable difference in their electric bills if their roofing ventilation is inadequate.

Even if your air conditioning and heating bills aren’t cause for concern, you may be causing unnecessary stress on your HVAC unit. When air is continuously at a higher temperature inside your home, your cooling system can be working overtime to keep your rooms at a comfortable temperature. While it may seem like everything is working fine for the time being, even the heartiest of AC units can call it quits on you — usually during the most inopportune times. Instead of worrying about your AC unit burning out, find out if your roofing ventilation is causing the problem!

Death to Shingles

In addition to higher electric bills, overheating in your attic can have a lasting impact on the integrity of your roof. When the sun warms the space within your attic, the air not only transfers heat into your home, but it transfers it back up through your roof as well. This can cause irreversible damage to your shingles, as well as any solar panels or other accessories affixed to your roof. While we’re more than happy to come out and replace your roof if it’s damaged, we’re pretty sure you would rather avoid that unless absolutely necessary!

Call Me Rusty

While the look of rust and patina may be the next “it” style when it comes to metal accents, it’s not stylish for the nails used to secure shingles to your roof. When moisture levels are increased in your attic, it can cause rust to develop on structural metal, including nails, fasteners, and even plumbing straps. As time progresses, the rust can break the heads off of nails and fasteners, and degrade plumbing straps past the point of failure. Take it from us, none of those things are fun!

Internal Impact

Your roof and electric bill aren’t the only things you have to worry about damaging when your roofing ventilation isn’t up to par. The amount of heat transferred from your attic to your home can damage the structural integrity of the beams and wood framing within your attic. When those beams are damaged, they can cause the walls and door frames within your home to become warped. The heat can also radiate throughout your home’s walls, causing your paint and wallpaper to blister and split. Not exactly an interior design trend you want to follow.

While summers in Florida and Tennessee can cause enough problems, homeowners aren’t out of the clear in the cooler months. A lack of roofing ventilation can also create elevated moisture levels in your home and attic. Steam from your bathroom, kitchen cooking, and clothes dryer can become trapped in your home’s attic. This steam causes condensation, which can decrease the effectiveness of your insulation as well as cause mold and mildew to grow in your attic. The growth of mold can create much more than damage to your insulation. If left untreated, it can cause a wide variety of health problems, including death to those with weakened immune systems.

It’s Getting Hot. Now What?

If your first thought when reading through this post is, “There’s no way my roof has enough ventilation!” you’re probably right. But don’t panic! Whether you’re in Florida, Tennessee, or across the county, there are solutions to help fix the lack of roofing ventilation in your attic. If you’re worried about the amount of ventilation in your attic space, contact a local roofing contractor in your area to get a professional opinion. Then, evaluate your options. While adding additional vents to your roof can be done as a DIY project, unless you’re very comfortable with your handyman skills, we recommend turning to the professionals. Having a contractor install new roof vents will generally cost you between $300-$500, which is much less expensive than fixing an error made when trying to conquer the project yourself! By keeping up with the health of your attic ventilation, you’re ensuring your roof lives a longer, happier life. Plus, who can argue with improved savings on your electric bill?

Turn to the Pros

At Model City Roofing, we’ve built our reputation on providing quality service to residential, industrial, and commercial clients. Each and every contractor we employ is certified, licensed, and insured, meaning our customers can breathe a sigh of relief knowing they’re in capable hands. Whether you’re looking for a full roof replacement, a small roof repair, or you’re building your dream home and need a brand-new roof installed, we work with you to ensure you’re satisfied every step of the way. Thanks to partnerships with accredited financial institutions, we also offer 100% financing to meet the needs of almost any client. In addition to serving Florida in the surrounding areas of Jacksonville, Orlando, Panama City, and Tampa, we also work in the Tri-Cities area of Tennessee. No project is too big or small for us. Contact us today at www.modelcityroofing.com or email info@modelcityroofing.com to receive a free estimate on your roofing project.