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Are Your Attic Vents Doing a Good Job?

By S.E. Slack

Having trouble with ice dams this winter or excessive heat in your home during the summer? The problem could be in your attic, say experts. Proper attic ventilation is important, especially for homes located in climates where snow and ice dams are common.

Ventilation helps remove warm air from your attic and replace it with cooler air from the outside. The right combination of air circulation can not only help remove excess heat and moisture from your attic but help eliminate mold, mildew, structural damage and ice dams, too. That’s because a lack of circulation causes moisture to build up, which in turns creates the other problems.

The National Roofing Contractors Association states that ventilation requirements will vary based on the type of attic vent used. The most common way to vent an asphalt roof is through exhaust ventilation such as ridge vents along the roof’s peak under shingles that allow air in and out of the attic. These vents typically aren’t visible from the outside.

Static vents are individual vents installed near the ridge of a roof. Gable-end vents are installed in the walls of the roof at the gable end’s peak. Both of these are easy to see from the ground.

Air intake vents, such as continuous soffit vents, individual soffit vents and drip edge or eave vents are used to allow outside air to enter into attics and ventilation spaces. These kinds of vents are best located along a roof assembly's lowest eave at or near soffits or eaves.

Intake vents are best used with exhaust vents that are located at or near a roof assembly's peak. However, drip edge vents aren’t recommended by the NRCA in cold climates, where there is a high likelihood of ice dams.

Regardless of the vent type used in your home, it’s critical that it be installed so that air can move freely around it. Insulation, for instance, should be placed so that it doesn’t prevent proper air circulation.

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