With Toronto’s winter weather and spring thaw, improving attic ventilation is one of the best investments you can make in your residential property. Not only will you extend your roof’s life span and protect wooden structures, you’ll also make the family more comfortable, lower energy bills, and maintain shingle warranties.
Why is Good Attic Ventilation So Important?
A pitched roof can be in big trouble without effective attic ventilation, which protects the roof in two primary ways. The first is by lowering attic temperatures in the summer. The second is by removing excess moisture, especially in the winter, which can cause swelling, mould, mildew, and dry rot in wood; leaks from condensation or snow melt; and the formation and thawing of ice dams.
Each of these problems weaken the structural integrity of the property, have a likelihood of causing leaks, and could result in costly repairs.
Finding the Balance of Air Inflow and Outflow
You may be wondering how ventilation works. At its most basic level, good ventilation ensures the proper airflow throughout the attic. When done correctly, attic ventilation provides the right balance between letting outside air in through intake vents (such as soffits) and letting inside air out through exhaust vents.
Intake vents prevent moisture from building up in the attic joists, whereas exhaust vents provide clean air by pulling odours, fumes, and moisture from the inside air and exhausting them outside the building.
Active and Passive Methods of Attic Ventilation
Knowing the importance of attic ventilation, property owners need to choose between two basic methods of ventilation: passive systems (also known as natural or static) or active systems (also known as mechanical).
A passive system uses natural forces
Passive ventilation relies on convention, wind, and thermal buoyancy to move air through the attic. Without moving parts, a static exhaust system largely depends on opening and closing of windows and vents for air inflow and outflow. Outdoor conditions (such as wind speed, temperature, and humidity) and the building itself (such as orientation, number of windows or openings, size, and location) largely determine the effectiveness.
Static vents create no noise because they have no moving parts, are virtually maintenance free, lower energy consumption, and can reduce construction and operation costs. At the same time, it’s important to know that passive ventilation may not be ideal for low slope pitched roofs, roofs that lack enough space, or complex roof structures.
Some of the most common types of passive roof vents are ridge vents without a baffle, roof louvres, hip vents, and gable end vents.
An active system relies on moving parts
Active ventilation uses a motor, fan blade, or a turbine to replace inside air with fresh outside air. One of the key advantages of active systems include the consistency and ability to control the rate of ventilation, regardless of the weather conditions. Other benefits include its effectiveness at venting complex structures, the opportunities for air filtration, and possible heat recovery. Disadvantages of active ventilation include capital costs, operational costs, noise, and ongoing maintenance.
Types of mechanical vents include turbine vents (whirlybirds), power vents, ridge vents with baffles, and solar-powered vents, which can either be roof-mounted or gable-mounted.
What is the Best Type of Attic Ventilation in Canada?
Historically, Canadian homes were built with gable vents. However, like ridge vents, these can get buried in the snow. Turbine vents stick high above the snow so they can function properly and keep out rain. Unfortunately, their moving parts can get jammed, letting water in, possibly soiling the attic insulation. Also, turbine vents can be problematic as the bearings start squealing after several years of use. To get the best of both worlds, many roofers choose stable, static turbo style vents, which are high but have no moving parts.
What’s important to know is the best type of ventilation for your property depends on many factors, including the architectural style, local climate, amount of upkeep, and budget. In addition, vent location is as important as their number and type. Often, a mixture of types and locations will work best. No matter what type of vents your roofer recommends, make sure they are not blocked by insulation, debris or other materials.
Installation is an Important Consideration
A roofing professional can recommend and install a balanced attic ventilation system, and the quality of installation counts to ensure the system’s effectiveness. Also, periodic inspections will reveal signs of condensation—such as moisture, rot or mildew—that indicate if there are any issues that require attention.
Improve your attic ventilation and ensure the best installation by using Elite Roofing, a family-run business known in Toronto for its expertise in commercial and residential properties. Trust the experts at Elite Roofing in Toronto. Contact us today.