With many Australians desperate for more space, attic conversions are highly popular. Turning a previously wasted space into a spare room, extra storage area, or living space can significantly improve your home’s value and size.
However, your attic space may suffer without proper installation and become costly over time. Poor attic ventilation makes your air con work harder, leads to condensation, and reduces your roof’s lifespan.
What is Roofing Ventilation?
Roofing ventilation is a system that provides air circulation throughout the roof cavity. Without the intake and exhaust vents, hot air gets trapped within your home, becoming stale, and causing other issues. Ventilation is vital whether you turn your extra space into an attic conversion or leave it unused space.
So, what is the best way to improve ventilation in your roof space? Your local climate and other property factors will provide the best solution.
Why Is It Important to Have Proper Ventilation?
Improving roof ventilation will ensure the health and longevity of your roof and the rest of your home. Without proper ventilation, warm air will get trapped in your attic spaces and lead to costly repairs. Whatever your local climate, it’s crucial you maintain your roof’s ventilation – it could protect you from the following situations:
- Trapped hot air in your home during the summer can make it challenging to stay cool.
- Hot air might cause mould, mildew, or dampness.
- In winter, it may lead to ice dams.
- Stale air could cause health problems for inhabitants, especially those with respiratory conditions.
- You might get hot and cold spots throughout the home, meaning higher heating costs and energy bills.
Types of Roofing Ventilation Options
There are two types of venting options for your roof space:
- Mechanical: Some structures require mechanical vents to provide constant airflow. Mechanical roof vents are helpful when the roof space doesn’t allow airflow or you live in an area with minimal wind.
- Natural: Hot air naturally rises and creates pressure in the attic space. If the high-pressure air has an escape, low-pressure, cooler air will automatically replace it. You can take advantage of natural airflow with various types of roof vents, doors, and roof windows.
Do You Need Better Attic Ventilation?
You may only consider roof ventilation when converting your attic storage space into a habitable attic. However, most homes need suitable attic ventilation, whether they have loft conversions or not. But, before you make any changes, you should determine if your attic needs more vents and, if so, how much.
- In the summer: If it’s a hot day, touch your hand to the ceiling – which is the attic floor. If the ceiling feels warm, your attic space stores air. Or, climb your attic ladder to see whether the roof space is too hot. Hot air could interfere with your home’s ability to stay cool in summer, leading to uncomfortable temperatures and overworking your air conditioning unit. You need more ventilation.
- In the winter: If you see ice on your eaves during the winter months, there is a good chance your roof space needs more ventilation. Ice forms when warm air from indoors gets stuck inside the attic. When ice and snowfall on the roof, it melts and refreezes along the eaves – causing significant damage. Alternatively, access your attic ladders to see if warm air is trapped. You’ll notice condensation or frost on the attic ceiling.
Other Signs of Poor Roof Ventilation
- Your air conditioner unit breaks down from overuse.
- Your energy bills are far higher than average.
- You experience hot or cold spots throughout the home.
- You experience roof leaks, mould, or mildew.
- You find unwanted pests within your attic space.
Four Roof Ventilation Solutions
So, how do you improve the airflow in your attic space? Installing a roof window is one option, providing natural light, but there are plenty of other, more efficient ways to ventilate your roof.
1. Roof Vents
Roof vents typically sit at the roof’s peak or ridge, where the attic’s hot air naturally rises. Adding roof vents will ensure warm and moist air escapes your home, preventing heat from building up and condensation from forming. You should inspect your roof vents now and then to check they are free of debris.
2. Soffit Vents
Soffits are planks connecting the underside of your roof’s overhang to the exterior walls. With proper ventilation, soffits can provide an opening for outside air to enter the attic from below. With an upwards movement of cool, fresh air, your roof space will naturally force hot air outside.
There are two types of soffit vents. Rectangular vents sit in the wooden beams of your home; continuous vents sit throughout the soffit, all the way around the attic. Like roof vents, you should check your soffit vents for debris.
3. Gable Vents
Some homeowners might find that roof and soffit vents aren’t adequate. You might need to install gable vents for additional airflow. Situated at the gable ends, these vents have controllable openings to drive air out of the attic.
Gable vents usually aren’t sufficient by themselves but can support other ventilation systems.
4. Fans to Improve Airflow
If natural ventilation does not work effectively – for instance, if you live in an especially hot or humid area – you may need supplementary mechanical fans.
Using traditional electrics or solar panels, fans can force air out of the attic. You can manually turn fans on or off or install fans with a thermostat to activate ventilation automatically.
Better Attic Ventilating
Passive and mechanical ventilation could improve the health of your home and its inhabitants. Poor ventilation could lead to expensive repairs, like mould, ice dams, or a sagging roof. Whether you use your attic storage space to live in or not, you must install sufficient ventilation.