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Stamford Roofing: Article About Understanding Roof and Attic Ventilation

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Roof and attic ventilation systems serve a specific purpose. In cold climates, the purpose of the ventilation system is to allow cold air into the attic so that ice dams and condensation do not form. In warm and hot climates, the ventilation system is responsible for moving moist air in and out of the attic so that the attic space does not become too hot. An overheated attic can cause heat damage to the roofing components from underneath. For homes that are located in areas that have distinct winter and summer seasons, the ventilation system can do both. If the ventilation system does not stop condensation from forming, a Stamford roofing contractor should inspect the roof to determine the problem.

For vented attics, the insulation normally is applied only to the floor of the attic. The floor must also be air sealed so that heated or cooled air is not escaping into the attic. Essentially, air sealing means filling up any holes are cracks. The attic access hatch can also be made to be airtight; however, the more often it is used, the less airtight it becomes. Additionally, homeowners should avoid installing recessed lights as these often provide holes where air can get through. If the attic floor is sealed, soffit vents and ridge vents should be able to keep the attic vented properly.

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If the homeowner wants to use the attic space as additional living space, the roof deck will be vented instead of the attic. This can be done easily in simple ridged roofs. In roofs that have valleys, dormers or skylights, this can be much more difficult or next to impossible. Most building codes require a minimum of 1 inch of airspace between the bottom of the roof sheathing and the insulation. Essentially, the space that is vented is between the attic ceiling and the roof deck. Soffit vents and a ridge vent can still be used to provide the proper amount of ventilation.

If the roof is particularly complicated, it may be impossible for a roofer to create a proper ventilation system. In order to control for condensation, spray foam or rigid foam may be installed against the underside of the roof deck. Additionally, the outer roofing materials may be installed in a different manner to prevent damage. The ultimate goal is to keep the roof deck warm enough to prevent condensation from forming. However, most roofers recommend ventilating the attic or roof if at all possible.

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