What is the Purpose of Attic Ventilation?

Soffit Underside of Eaves

When Planning Your Attic Ventilation, Be Sure to Examine Your Local Building Code Requirements.

You’ve probably heard about the energy-saving capabilities of home insulation. Many homeowners are well acquainted with this essential structure which protects the HVAC system and keeps a home cozy during the day. However, there’s another side to this delicate balance between heating and cooling: attic ventilation. Without proper venting, your energy bill could skyrocket and your home could be exposed to dangerous natural hazards.

Today, we’ll discuss the critical role of attic ventilation and learn how to optimize it for your home. If you pay close attention, you could save hundreds, even thousands of dollars.

How Important is Attic Ventilation?

Effective ventilation not only removes excess heat from the interior of the attic, it also extends the life of your shingles. Because warm air can also confer moisture, using attic ventilation to prevent mold growth is crucial to your home’s protection.

What happens if you have too little ventilation? First, your attic swells up with heat and moisture. Once the space has absorbed all it can, it will begin to release heat through the ceiling and into the rooms below. Your thermostat will start to notice the rising temperatures and kick on the air conditioning system. That’s more energy consumed and more stress on your HVAC unit.

Left alone for too long, this extra heat can even cause warping in your roof’s wood frame. The heat also flows outward into the roofing and cooks your shingles. That’s just one more reason to find more balanced ventilation.

How Much Ventilation is Needed in an Attic?

For every 150-300 square feet of attic, you should aim for one square foot of vent. You should check your local building codes and see exactly what’s expected of local homeowners. Vent shape doesn’t matter much, but make sure the vents are spread out across the length of the house. If you can, include ventilation towards the top of your roof and under the eaves.

Can You Over Vent an Attic? Yes. The more vents you install in the attic, the more potential leaks you’ll create for the future. Your best course of action to aim for “just enough” roof ventilation.

Ways to Improve Ventilation

  • Install soffit vents
  • Seal constructs (vent pipes, duct work, etc.) that penetrate the roof
  • Install ridge line vents
  • Install attic fans
  • Clean out your soffit vents

What Attic Ventilation is Best?

Attic Fan on Metal Roof

Attic Fans Offer Stronger Air Flow Through the Attic for Consistent Cooling.

Many homeowners favor a combination of ridge line vents and soffit vents. This allows your attic to breathe in cool air from outside and exhale hot air from the interior. Now you can use an attic fan as your upper ventilation, which greatly speeds these process. We’ll break down ridge line vents and attic fans in a moment. Look for balance, and try to keep that attic area to venting ratio in mind.

What are Attic Fans?

There are two types of attic fans. The larger whole-house variety operates by drawing in cool air through open windows and blowing out all the attic’s hot air in one short burst. This system is typically activated in the morning before things heat up outside, but after all the hot air has settled into the attic. This model requires upper attic vents to drive out the heated air.

The smaller variety of attic fans are usually referred to as “ventilation fans”. These actively draw in cool air through lower soffit vents to replace the heat they expel. This smaller system’s effectiveness hinges on the integrity of your ceiling. If the ceiling has significant cracking, these fans may instead suck out cooled air from the living space below.

Do Attic Fans Really Work?

That depends entirely on two factors: proper ventilation in the soffit section, and healthy ceiling space. If your ceiling is damaged, your attic fans could starting blowing out cool air instead of hot, which wastes money. If your soffit vents are clogged (or missing entirely), the same problem may occur.

Do Attic Fans Turn On Automatically?

Some attic fans are manufactured with thermometers which monitor the temperature of the attic and activate the fans as needed. Others, especially the whole-house variety, utilize timers or on/off switches.

Are Ridge Vents Necessary?

Metal Roof With Soffit and Metal Roof

Homeowners Should Strive to Have a Strong, Consistent Airflow Through the Attic.

While installing ridge vents is left to the discretion of homeowners, many professional roofers recommend them for boosting air flow in and out of the attic space. Because heat rises, it’s natural for hot air to flow out through the ridge, while drawing in cool air from the soffit vents below. 

Are ridge vents better? Ridge vents are widely preferred when compared with gable vents, though attic fans sometimes win over both. Again, it matters little what type of upper ventilation you have, as long as it effectively draws cool air into the attic and hot air out.

Schedule Your Ventilation Installation!

If you have more questions about ventilation, or if you’d like to schedule an appointment with one of our professional roofers at Covenant Roofing, be sure to talk with one of our courteous experts at 405-720-6200. For all your needs regarding Oklahoma City, OK roof ventilation, you can trust our team for lasting results.