the space within the roof area of a building. Where insulation is located.

Soffit ventilation

Attic inspections consider 3 major factors:  R-value (measure of thermal resistance) of current insulation, Continuity of ceiling vapor barrier and Ventilation.  Ventilation is evaluated in 2 ways: Intake (usually in through the soffit cavities) and Exhaust (through vents installed high on the roof’s ridges).  Your home’s attic and roof depend on proper ventilation to exhaust heat and moisture from the attic space.  Whenever ventilation is limited, or out of balance between intake and exhaust, issues arise such as condensation.

Most homes draw intake ventilation through the Soffit cavity.  The soffits are the underside of the roof where it overhangs the exterior walls of the building.  Older homes, prior to the 1970’s had soffits made out of sheets of plywood that often had very few or sparse vents cut into them.  The adoption of perforated aluminum soffits came in conjuncture with an understanding of the importance of Attic ventilation that for decades became the standard in new home construction.  Unfortunately all too often in the renovation market contractors install new aluminum soffit over top of existing wooden soffit, greatly limiting air flow.

In cases where Attic intake ventilation is limited due to wooden soffits, aluminum covering wooden soffits or plywood stops installed between the attic and the soffit cavity we must pursue additional measures. These measures may involve attempts to bash out plywood stops from the Attic side.  Not a very effective technique but sometimes successful.  Removing the wooden soffits and replacing with new perforated aluminum soffits.  We can often remove the plywood stops from the outside where access is improved with the existing soffits removed.  The best way to address the intake ventilation issue but surely a costly exercise.

The third is the installation of Lower roof intake vents.  This practice has become much more commonplace in Calgary since it has been adopted by New Construction developments in adherence to local fire regulations.  High density residential construction is no longer permitted to utilize perforated aluminum soffits so they install lower roof intake vents during construction.  In the renovation market we can use the same intake vents to create ventilation in Attics where the soffit cavities are poorly vented.  Intake vents are installed around the perimeter of the roof, or specifically in problem areas, down near the edge of the roof.  Always above the exterior wall plate and preferably above the finished height of the current/new attic insulation.  This allows fresh air to be drawn into the Attic space, above the perimeter of the Attic insulation so it can then cycle through the attic and exhaust up through the vents installed at the ridges.

lower roof intake vents allow for Attic intake ventilation through the lower parts of the roof

lower roof intake vents allow for Attic intake ventilation through the lower parts of the roof

 

Attic Rain

CBC Calgary recently reported on an unfortunate instance of Attic condensation termed “Attic Rain”. You can read the article HERE. As Attic insulators we come across this phenomena during the Winter months.

It is caused by a combination of 3 factors: penetrations in ceiling Vapor barrier, insufficient Attic insulation and insufficient Attic ventilation. The first cause is difficult to remedy. Once your attic is insulated it is very difficult to find vapor barrier penetrations, akin to a needle in a hay stack. The most prudent process is to remove all current insulation, seal penetrations using poly or spray foam and then re-insulate.

The second issue is much more easily addressed. Low spots or missing insulation can be topped up with new insulation during a simple attic upgrade. These low spots can cause excessive heat loss in a localized area resulting in moisture concentrating in a specific area. During winter months this moisture will freeze to the underside of the Roof, the coldest place in an Attic. During the day when the temperature rises the frost can melt. This cycle of freeze-thaw is what eventually leads to condensation, or Attic rain.

The last issue can also be remedied, but involves a detailed investigation of both Intake and Exhaust ventilation. Most houses draw fresh air into their Attic spaces through the Soffit cavity. Newer houses now utilize Lower roof intake vents that are installed on the roof. This is due to recent changes in Calgary’s fire code. Air is expelled from your Attic through exhaust vents that are installed near the top, or ridges, of your roof. Your attic relies on this air exchange to help equalize the temperature between inside and outside of your Attic, as well as expel moisture. Improper venting will cause heat and moisture to become trapped in your Attic space. The build-up of this heat and moisture is what feeds the freeze-thaw cycle during the Winter months and can lead to condensation and Attic rain.

IDEAL recommends that you take a look into your Attic space once a year for signs of condensation and air movement. We are happy to schedule an inspection where our qualified team will visit your home to assess these factors and positively contribute to your Homes comfort and quality.

Attic ventilation. Why is it needed?

Attic ventilation is an important factor in protecting your roof. Moisture can build in the attic from hot air sources produced within the home: bathrooms, laundry, cooking, and humidifiers. It is important to expel this air to ensure that mold does not develop and that wood does not rot. Proper attic ventilation also helps prevent your attic insulation from settling due to condensation and hence losing some of its thermal resistance.

If an attic is not breathing properly IDEAL can offer a number of retro-fit solutions to fix the issue by improving air flow. This is achieved through various air intake options as well as exhausts vents. Intake ventilation is most often drawn in through the soffit cavity. Styrofoam baffles or Air Chutes can be attached to the underside of a roof deck along the perimeter of the attic to allow for air intake from the soffit cavity into the main Attic space. If air is unable to enter an attic through the soffit cavity due to roof construction or lack of soffit vents then lower intake vents that sit just above the wall plate can be introduced. These vents are installed on the roof just above the finished height of the Attic insulation. Intake ventilation is drawn in from the top-side, unlike soffits which draw from underneath. Roof exhaust vents can be installed in an existing roof to increase the expulsion of hot air in specific areas of the Attic.

At IDEAL our attic inspectors are happy to answer questions about your specific ventilation questions. Give us a call and we’ll inspect free of charge.

Update: Alberta Energy Rebates Programs

We posted back in July that the Alberta Government was planning a new round of Energy rebates.  As per this recent article in the Calgary Herald it appears as though this program is on hold.

Read here.

IDEAL can still help you improve your homes overall energy efficiency by increasing your Attic insulation. Give us a call for a free in home inspection and estimate.

Uneven Attic Insulation

At this time of year it is common for Homeowners to identify cold areas of their home.  There are several potential causes and one of the simplest can be uneven or missing insulation in the Attic.  Attics are closed off spaces that few people ever investigate.  They are dark, constrictive and dusty.  Unfortunately being out of sight and out of mind can mean that issues are left unresolved.  It is very common for our inspectors to find an absence of adequate Attic insulation which is very easy to resolve.  If you have rooms in your home that feel disproportionately cold then give us a call and we’ll come and inspect your Home.  Free of charge.  🙂

uneven attic insulation

uneven attic insulation

IDEAL company infographic

We’re working on some new advertising for IDEAL.  Our infographic outlining all of IDEAL services is now complete.  Check it out!

 

IDEAL infographic

Upcoming Alberta Energy Rebate Programs

Looks like there is new round of AB Government energy rebate programs on the way for Fall 2014. No firm details for now.

Calgary Herald article attached HERE.

You attic is one of the easiest areas of your home to upgrade with very little disruption and cost effective value.

Give us a call to have your attic inspected today!

More news on Save Heat initiative

The Calgary Herald posted an article over the weekend on the Save Heat initiative.

Take a look here.

U of C Save Heat project raises interesting stats

The save heat project sponsored by the University of Calgary has raised some interesting statistics on energy efficiency and heat loss in Calgary’s residential NW.  Check out their website and see the results of their ariel thermal imaging scans.

 

www.saveheat.co

 

More to come on how this tool can aid Customers in understanding their insulation needs and how IDEAL can help.

Information on Mould

Found this brochure produced by Alberta Health Services outlining some facts about Mould.

check it out at this link

Alberta Health Services mould brochure