Your roof looks fine from the outside, but just like your plumbing and your body, that doesn’t mean it’s structurally sound. Maybe your energy bill spiked, maybe your roof weathered a bitter winter, or maybe you’ve neglected inspection for too long. In any case, you worry that your roof stands in danger.
Roof ventilation represents one of the most crucial methods of keeping a roof and home healthy. Unfortunately, ventilation problems can prove insidious, developing without a homeowner’s knowledge.
Luckily, inadequate ventilation often comes with distinct symptoms. If you suspect a ventilation issue, watch for these six signs.
Sometimes ventilation problems come not from a poor venting system, but from poor system maintenance. Think about the last time you cleared the space around your roof vents (or had a professional complete the task for you). If you can’t remember when it happened, you likely have a buildup of twigs, leaves, and dirt blocking your vents. You may even notice debris slipping into your attic space.
If you performed a recent cleaning, buildup can still occur after a severe storm. If you notice a change in your energy bill or temperature regulation after a storm with high winds, schedule a time to have a roofer clear your vents.
2. High Temperatures
Your ventilation system allows air to circulate through your attic. It may seem like this makes your heating and cooling system less efficient. However, this regulates the temperature in your home. If you suspect a ventilation issue, place a thermometer in your attic. If the temperatures climb in the summer, contact a roofer.
3. Insulation Issues
Ventilation controls moisture as well as temperature. If moisture becomes trapped in your attic, it affects your insulation. This causes insulation to mat, clump, or flatten. When you suspect inadequate ventilation, put on protective gear and inspect your attic insulation.
Slightly misshapen insulation may simply indicate aged batts. You can hire a contractor to replace the insulation. However, if you notice more extensive damage, you should contact a roofer-especially if you see mold accompanied by knotted insulation material.
Moisture buildup can cultivate mold. If left unaddressed, molds may damage the beams, rafters, or ceiling joints in your attic. Some mold species even pose health risks to you and your family, especially if your heating and cooling system runs through the attic.
You may not immediately see mold. While you wait before an insulation inspection, look for mold hiding within the batts. Do not undertake this task without wearing a respirator. If you don’t have the proper equipment, hire a contractor or mold specialist for the inspection. Once you address the mold’s possible dangers, have a roofer evaluate your ventilation.
5. Roof Damage
While debris may build up in spite of adequate ventilation, ice builds up when your roof lacks ventilation. During and after winter, your roof’s health depends on a healthy airflow from the outside. When your attic stays cool, it prevents ice damming. If heat collects in your attic, it melts the snow on the roof, which then refreezes as it runs toward your gutters, creating an ice dam.
Ice dams may cause extensive roof damage. This includes shingle loss, load bearing problems, and leaks. Consult a roofer on the best way to remove ice dams if you notice them forming. Once the weather clears, have your roofer check if poor ventilation caused your problem.
Like mold and insulation issues, rust forms when moisture lingers inside your roof space. Look at the metal roofing components in your attic. You’ll find them wherever two beams or boards intersect.
Rust can indicate other problems as well, but if you notice rust on metal fasteners (or metal objects stored in your attic), have a roofer determine if ventilation is the culprit.
How to Proceed
If you notice any combination of the signs listed, record your observations. What you notice about your roof’s functionality may help a professional pinpoint the problem. Write down anything unusual and list any maintenance tasks performed during the last year. This may include gutter cleaning, repairs, or inspections.
Once you gather information, contact a roofing professional for an inspection. If you live in a harsh climate, have your roof inspected before and after the season that’s hardest on your roof. In places with high levels of precipitation and low temperatures, winters prove the roughest. If you deal with beating sun and skyrocketing temperatures in the summer, have an inspection before and after the warm months. These inspections help head off any future roof damage.
After an inspection, your roofer can guide you through your roof’s condition. You may need to install new vents to correct the ventilation problem, or have your roofer make some small repairs.
Don’t postpone the process – contact a professional if you see any of the above signs.