Mold is a four letter word in the eyes of home owners, and for good reason. The lack of proper roof venting; intake (soffits), exhaust (Ridge/Solar fan, power fan, etc…) is the number one reason for mold and mildew formation in attic spaces. All homes can be at risk, while newer homes seem to be most susceptible. This is due to tight, efficient construction used in building homes today. Triple pane windows, R42/R48 insulation, and 2X6 construction are examples of this efficiency which must be addressed from a ventilation perspective. The good news is that proper roof ventilation is attainable with the aid of a diagnostic expert.
According to Mike St.Pierre – Senior Diagnostic Systems Specialist at O’LYN Roofing, “while attic insulation may seem to be a minor consideration, proper venting can prolong shingle, sheathing, and attic structure life. By proactively ensuring proper venting, homeowners can avoid spending thousands and thousands of dollars in mold remediation as well as rafter and sheathing and possible shingle replacement. When attics are unvented, heat and humidity quickly transform to moisture which in turn breeds mold/mildew”.
St.Pierre continues: “During warmer months, ventilation helps keep attics cool. It helps prevent hot, moist summer air from warping the roof sheathing. It also stops shingles from deteriorating prematurely. What’s more, fresh air in the attic makes a home much easier to cool, which can result in lower energy costs. In winter months, ventilation helps reduce moisture to keep attics dry. It stops water from backing up under shingles, damaging insulation, and rotting the roof structure itself. It also helps prevent ice dams from forming”.
A common but unfortunate scenario has to do with cathedral ceiling & deck houses which are extremely susceptible to blocked or a lack of ventilation and mold growth. Due to limited ceiling to top of roof design, it is critical that during construction, proper ventilation and insulation must be incorporated in these narrow areas; however this is seldom the case.
During a routine roof investigation in Dover last year it became evident quickly that what a homeowner thought was merely roof leaking was much worse. Further investigation revealed mold growth in the upper attic area due to blocked rafter/eave areas jammed with insulation. In addition, the cathedral ceiling areas had terrible ice damming situation in three sections of the home. This is where a major amount of damage happened to the interior of the home. The picture depicts one of the three areas which were breached due to ice damming.
The removal of the existing asphalt roof was needed to investigate the exact problems under the sheathing and needed to be replaced as it was over 25 years old. Once removed and some of the sheathing was lifted, it was obvious where the problems were. Six inches of bat insulation filled the rafter cavities which was an ineffective amount of insulation. This also left no space for air flow from the outside where there were no soffit vents. The removal and replacement of the sheathing removed the existing mold. Soffit/rafter baffles were installed in conjunction with continuous soffit venting along the outside would create proper air flow. Then the addition of blown-in cellulose insulation was installed in accordance with Mass Code requirements.
Now that the intake part of the venting equation was in place, the exhaust, or in this case ridge venting and half vents were used to complete the equation. By making sure the intake/exhaust improvements were balanced would ensure proper air flow and an environment where mold and ice damming would be eliminated from the home.
This was another successful repair which will see the homeowners in Dover to rest at ease regardless of the elements that Mother Nature wants to throw their way.
How Do I Begin?
Contact a ventilation expert to come out and inspect your attic area. A determination can be made regarding the existing ventilation and what Mass Code requirements are. An inspection of the structure, sheathing and air flow can be determined at the same time. Finally, any corrective measures can be discussed to ensure proper ventilation for long life of these areas and the avoidance of costly mold/mildew remediation repairs.