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.
While the stereotype of bats is that they live in caves with colonies numbering from thousands to over a million flying animals, they are quite happy to take up residence in unused residential attic spaces as well. While this fact may be distasteful, it gets worse as bats are typically accompanied by insects known as bat bugs. Here are some of the basics of these parasites:
1) Referred to as ectoparasites, bat bugs live on the skin and in the fur of bats in a colony, feeding on their blood.
2) There are twelve species of bat bugs in North America.
3) Bats bugs, to the naked eye, look almost identical to bed bugs, are the same size, and are commonly mistaken for them. The primary physical difference is that bat bugs have longer and more hair on their bodies. The species that is most commonly mistaken for bed bugs is the eastern bat bug (Cimex adjunctus).
4) Bat bugs will normally stay in the proximity of the colony in a residential attic, but if the colony shrinks in size or migrates out, they will enter the house in an attempt to feed on its residents as well as pets.
Controlling and preventing infestations:
1) The best method of controlling bat bugs is to prevent bats from entering the attic or other spaces that may offer an attractive place to roost. Bats can squeeze through spaces that are as little as one-half of an inch, so the first thing to do is to call for a professional roofing inspection to find potential entry points and then seal them.
2) If bats are already present, take note of their exit and entry points. Bats will normally leave the attic at around dusk and return at dawn and may use different openings for departing and returning.
3) Getting bats out of the attic will probably require the services of a professional bat removal company. Once the bats are removed, the roosting area and its surroundings should be sprayed down with insecticide to control bat bugs.
4) After the bats have been removed and the roosting area has been sprayed, the attic should be cleaned out to remove droppings and remains.
5) Any spaces that were used by the colony for ingress and egress should then be sealed by a professional roofing company to prevent their return.
Probably the biggest reason for the increase in bat and bat bug infestations is suburban sprawl, which brings people closer to where bats live. To prevent both types of infestations, have a professional roofer assess your home for potential entry points and have them sealed as quickly as possible.