Your attic may have a combination of vents, including soffit vents in the underside of the area where the roof overhangs the house walls, gable vents that are up in the peak of the house wall just under the roof, ridge vents that run along the peak of the roof, or roof vents cut into the roof itself. All of these vents should be kept clear. Insulation, for example shouldn’t cover soffit vents. You should also make sure these vents doesn’t pose an entry point for insects, birds and other animals.
As for ventilation, you need to make sure there is about 1 square foot of venting for every 300 square feet of attic floor space, assuming there is a vapor barrier in place. If there is no vapor barriers, aim for 1 square foot of ventilation for every 150 of square feet of attic space. Keep in mind that power or wind-assisted roof vents will reduce the ventilation square footage needed.
In cold climates, vapor barriers (usually sturdy 6-milimeter plastic films) should be placed against the warm side of the house, for example the attic floor. The insulation itself should be adequate for your climate . Check with your local building codes, but look for a total attic R-value of about R38 for most areas. It should also be dry and evenly distributed. Insulation should be kept at least 3 inches away from any heat-producing items such as electrical or light fixtures.
Although attics can seem like a great place to store unused items, they are not created for such purpose. If your attics are unfinished and unheated or uncooled, they are exposed to temperature extremes and to water damage from roof leaks. All of these can prematurely deteriorate paper and wood items. Stacks or boxes of paper and clothes are perfect homes for unwelcome guests such as mice. Flammable or explosive items such as pressurized cans or paint thinners may be a fire risk when exposed to extreme heat. They should never be stored in the attic.
If you have an attic that has sufficient overhead clearance to be turned into usable space, such as a playroom, talk to your county or municipal about your building codes. These will provide guidelines for insulating the attic and for providing safe access to and from it. This is essential to ensure that people especially children can evacuate the attic in case of fire. Get help from a qualified contractor for the renovation itself. Make sure the contractor has done attic work before to ensure that the renovation doesn’t create additional insulation or ventilation problems.
In short, attic insulation and ventilation go hands in hands. One will not work without the other. Therefore, inspecting both attic insulation and ventilation are necessary to prevent major problem from occurring which could potentially cost you thousand of dollars of repair cost, let alone the time to fix it.
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