Undeniably, proper roof ventilation is one of the most important parts of maintaining any type of physical infrastructure and ensuring that it remains in top condition. Inadequate roof ventilation can cause all sorts of problems, from premature aging and deterioration of the roofing materials to moisture damage, mold and mildew growth, and increased energy costs.
There are a few different ways to ventilate a roof, and the most effective method will depend on the specific circumstances of the building in question. In some cases, passive ventilation may be sufficient, while in others, active or mechanical ventilation will be necessary.
If you’re not sure whether your roof is adequately ventilated, or you’re looking to build/retrofit a roof ventilation system, then keep reading. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the most common roof ventilation problems and how to avoid them.
Two Types of Roof Ventilation
There are two main types of roof ventilation: passive and active (or mechanical).
Passive ventilation relies on the natural forces of convection and wind to circulate air through the building. This type of ventilation can be achieved through the use of vents, vents placed at high and low points, or a combination of both. The most common type of passive roof vent is the ridge vent, which is installed along the peak of the roof.
Active or mechanical ventilation, on the other hand, uses fans or other powered devices to force air through the building. This type of ventilation is often used in conjunction with passive ventilation to achieve the desired level of airflow.
The most important thing to remember when ventilating a roof is that the air must be able to flow freely through the building in order to be effective. If the airflow is restricted in any way, then the ventilation system will not work as intended and problems can occur.
Most Common Roof Ventilation Problems and How to Avoid Them
Now that we’ve covered the basics of roof ventilation, let’s take a look at some of the most common problems that can occur when ventilation is not properly installed or maintained.
1. Not Enough Airflow
One of the most common roof ventilation problems is insufficient airflow. This can be caused by a number of factors, including blockages in the vents or ductwork, or simply not enough vents installed in the first place.
Insufficient airflow can lead to a build-up of heat and moisture under the roof, which can then lead to all sorts of problems like premature aging of the roofing materials, condensation, and mold /mildew growth.
To avoid this problem, make sure that you have enough vents installed in your roof (a good rule of thumb is one vent per 150 square feet of roof surface), and that they are all clear and unblocked.
2. Improperly Placed Vents
Another common roof ventilation problem is improperly placed vents. This usually happens when the vents are installed too close to the eaves of the roof (i.e., the edge), which can block the flow of air into the attic space.
This can again lead to a build-up of heat and moisture under the roof, as well as ice dams forming in cold weather (more on that later). To avoid this problem, make sure that your vents are installed at least 2 feet away from the eaves of the roof.
3. Ice Dams
Ice dams can form on roofs when there is insufficient ventilation and the heat from inside the house escapes into the attic, warming the roof and causing snow to melt. This melted snow then refreezes at the edge of the roof (i.e., the eave), forming an ice dam.
As the ice dam grows, it can block the flow of water off the roof, leading to leaks and water damage. There are a few things that you can do to prevent this problem:
- Make sure that your attic is well-insulated. This will help to keep the heat from escaping into the attic and melting the snow.
- Install roof ventilation fans. These can help to circulate the air and keep the roof temperature from getting too warm.
- Install a gutter system with downspouts that extend away from the house. This will help to carry the melted snow off of the roof and away from the building.
- Install a waterproof membrane (Ice or water shield) at the eaves and other critical areas. The membrane will stick to the roof and keep water from getting in.
- Install electric deicing cables in areas that have a history of icing BEFORE the icing occurs.
It’s no surprise that one of the most common roof ventilation problems is leaks. When there is insufficient ventilation, the heat and moisture build up under the roof can cause the roofing materials to deteriorate prematurely, leading to gaps and cracks.
These gaps and cracks can then allow water to enter your facility, causing all sorts of damage. A good preventative measure is to have your roof inspected regularly for any signs of damage and to repair any leaks or cracks as soon as they are found.
4. High Energy Costs
Finally, one of the less obvious but nonetheless common problems caused by insufficient roof ventilation is high energy costs. When there is a build-up of heat and moisture under the roof, your air conditioning system has to work harder to cool the facility, leading to increased energy consumption and higher bills.
You probably already know the answer to this one: Make sure that your roof is properly ventilated to avoid high energy costs.
Here are some additional measures that you can take to ensure proper roof ventilation:
- Install vents in the soffit (i.e., the underside of the eaves). These vents will help to draw air into the attic space.
- Install vents in the gable ends of the building. Gable-end vents are often used in conjunction with soffit vents to create a cross-flow of air that can help to cool the attic space.
- Install ridge vents along the peak of your roof. Ridge vents allow hot air to escape out of the top of the attic, helping to keep the space cooler.
Check Out SRS Building Products!
In short, proper roof ventilation is essential to the health of any building infrastructure that has a roof. By taking the time to ventilate your roof properly, you can avoid many common problems, including leaks, ice dams, high energy costs, and premature deterioration of the roofing materials.
If you’re looking to prevent these problems, or if you’re already dealing with one of them, be sure to check out SRS Building Products!
SRS Building Products is your one-stop shop for roofing materials that will provide both protection and style. We offer a wide variety of products from different manufacturers, including asphalt composition shingles, metal roofing, wood shakes, and slate.
Our team is happy to answer any questions you may have and help you select the best roofing solution for your project. We’ll be with you every step of the way, from placing your order to delivering it to your job site.
So what’re you waiting for? Give us a call today or browse our website to see our complete selection of roofing materials!