Roof ventilation is a lot more important than most homeowners think. In today’s post, we’ll explain why, as well as do a little “mythbusting” on an unfortunate misconception—namely, the idea that you should cover your roof vents during the winter.
We’ll cover that in a moment. For now, it’s just important that you understand that attic ventilation is important in the winter. Without proper ventilation in the roofing area of your home, it’ll be susceptible to mold, mildew, frost accumulation, wood rot, ice dams—buildup of ice from free-flowing water—and even broken or detached shingles.
The solution to preventing these problems is often as simple as maintaining airflow, even during the coldest months of the year. Let’s talk about why that is:
Why You Shouldn’t Cover Your Vents During the Winter, Even When There’s Snow Outside
The idea behind covering your roof vents during the winter is that it would uspposedly prevent moisture from getting in and thus causing damage to your roof or attic. This myth is unfortunately quite pervasive, which has caused many homeowners unnecessary damage and expenses.
While it sounds like it makes sense to cover up your vents at first glance, the reality is that you should never cover your roof vents during the winter. It seems a little counter intuitive, but proper ventilation will actually prevent moisture from accumulating (even during a wet and rainy or snowy winter like we get here in Windsor).
Airflow is necessary to prevent the growth of mildew or mold, plus ventilation will prevent the attic space from becoming too hot or dry, which is more important than you might think.
Since the heat from inside your home will rise, this is actually very likely, even if it’s very cold outside. Extreme temperatures in the roof area actually melt snow on the exterior of the roof, which will then cause ice to form on the shingles and gutters, which may cause (potentially expensive!) damage.
Proper ventilation, even during winter, can extend the lifespan of your roof and its internal components and maybe even sections of your attic.
Just to be perfectly clear: don’t cover your vents during the winter!
Understanding the Different Kinds of Roof Vents
So you have a better idea of what you’re looking at, let’s briefly cover the most common types of roof vents. These are gable vents, under-eave vents, and rafter vents.
Gable vents can be easily identified as they’re usually the the vents found at the roof’s highest point. These kinds of vents are both intake and outtake vents and given their close proximity to the top of the roof they don’t usually get blocked—unless there’s an ice dam buildup from free-flowing water (usually caused by heat trapped in the attic, discussed above).
Under-eave vents are the vents found under the eave of the roof. The biggest problem we see with these vents are that they’re often mistakenly covered with attic insulation, more or less defeating their purpose.
Rafter vents are installed near the area where the floor of the attic and the ceiling meet and provide airways for the under-eave vents. Your home also likely has a handful of turbine vents, where the fans are located. These fans should remain unblocked as they serve to expel moisture form the attic to the outside.
Snow and Ice Present Unique Problems for Roofing Ventilation
We can have heavy snow here in Colorado, so it’s smart to keep an eye on your roof vents after we’ve had a storm pass through. Ice and snow can accumulate around the vents and sometimes stay there for weeks at a time during the coldest months, which will block air from flowing through the ventilation system. This snow and ice will need to be removed by a professional.
Another challenge many homeowners face is actually a problem from the inside—if your attic feels too warm, even when your roof ventilation is clear, there could be a problem with the insulation inside. Attic insulation should prevent nearly all the heat from the rest of your home from entering it—if that’s not the case, you’re likely to incur increased heating costs.
Finally, the attic is often an area where regular maintenance is neglected. In addition to the insulation issue mentioned above, sealant is often ignored or forgotten in this area. Sealant can cause air leaks which will once again lead to increased energy costs since the heat will be escaping into the attic.
Make sure to check out our post How to Lower Your Colorado Heating Bill Without Sacrificing Comfort to learn more about smart energy savings during our cold winters.
IIf you suspect that you have any of the problems discussed in today’s post, please feel free to use this easy service request form so that we can help you.