The accumulation of moisture in attics can occur in a variety of ways and create several different problems. These problems include accelerated deterioration of roofing materials, dry/wet rot and the growth of mildew, as well as toxic mold. Here are 4 ways to reduce humidity levels in this space.
1) Do regular inspections for small leaks – Smaller leaks can provide a consistent source of moisture in an attic while going undetected in the living areas of the home. The most common sources of these types of leaks are the cutouts for the chimney, ducts and air vents. On the exterior, these cutouts are protected by metal flashing, but deterioration and damage can result in small pathways for water to enter the attic. Besides checking the cutouts, look for any water stains on the ceiling and the sidewalls. Any leaks that are present should be repaired as quickly as possible.
2) Make sure that the kitchen, bathroom and dryer vent to the outdoors – Steam and warm air emissions that are funneled to the attic from the interior can increase the temperature and humidity in the space, creating an ideal environment for fostering the growth of mildew and toxic mold. If ducts from the interior end in the attic, extend them so their emissions can be vented to the outside of the building.
3) Ventilate the space – Adding adequate flow through the space can allow for humidity to be vented out with warm air. This can reduce moisture as well as the temperature in the attic, which can make it far more difficult for mold and mildew to gain a foothold in the space. Ventilating this space can also reduce heat that radiates up through the roof and down into the living areas of the home.
4) Insulating the attic floor and entry points – Insulation brings several benefits by limiting the transfer of heat. In many environments, warm air also carries moisture and unrestricted upward movement can result in an attic that is both hot and humid. With insulation on the attic floor restricting the transfer of heat into the space, the warm air stays in the home’s living areas. This also lowers the demand for heat, resulting in lowering energy bills.
By taking these steps, homeowners can drastically reduce both humidity and temperatures in the attic. In addition to preventing or limiting the growth of mold and mildew, controlling the environment in this space can slow the deterioration of roofing materials, block dry/wet rot, reduce the demand level on climate control systems and lower monthly energy bills. If there is enough room, the controlled environment may allow the attic to be converted into a space that can be used as a home office, an extra bedroom or a play area.
Asphalt shingle roofs give a variety of signs when they are approaching the end of their service lives. Paying attention to these warning signs will allow you to take steps to either repair or replace the roof before the structure and/or its contents suffer serious damage. Here is what to look for when you are evaluating your roof.
1) Shingles that are curling at the corners – After long-term exposure to direct sunlight and heat, the corners of asphalt shingles will start to curl upward. Extreme temperatures in the attic can also play a significant role in the deterioration of asphalt shingles. During this process, the shingles will become increasingly brittle as well. At this point, the upturned corners are more vulnerable to breaking off while also making it easier for wind to lift shingles away from the deck.
2) Loose, missing or broken shingles – Isolated damage can occur with relatively new shingles in extreme weather events, but system-wide problems will likely be indicating that a full roof replacement is warranted. If the deterioration evidenced by curling corners is allowed to continue, shingles will continue to break, come loose or go missing. At this advanced stage in the breakdown of the roofing system, deterioration will likely accelerate as increasing amounts of water are trapped and start leaking into the structure.
3) A rippling surface – A roofing system that starts taking on a rippled pattern is the result of buckling asphalt shingles. As one side of the shingles buckles, the edge of the opposite side will lift slightly, presenting a larger surface for wind to attack. When winds hit these uplifted edges, the weakened shingles can be easily blown off of the roof or snapped, further weakening the roofing system as a whole.
4) Cracked and broken shingles around rooftop installations – Satellite dishes and HVAC systems that are installed on roofs are often done in a way that damages both the shingles and the deck. If you see evidence of damaged shingles after a rooftop installation, the deck may have been punctured as well, which can result in leaks even if the roof is new.
5) Granules at the downspouts – Granules are glued to the top surface of the shingles to absorb heat. As the adhesive breaks down, the protection provided by the layer of granules on each shingle will diminish as they wash away. Evidence of this breakdown in the form of sand-like accumulations can be found at the mouth of the downspouts after it rains. Like other processes of deterioration, the loss of granules tends to accelerate as the roofing system ages.
Signs of distress on an asphalt shingle roof may not immediately result in leaks. If, however, any of these signs are present with your asphalt shingle roof, repairs or a full replacement may be necessary in the near future.