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Your attic and roof is a very vital part of your home as it protects the outside weather and moisture from entering your home.  Making sure that your attic and roof are well maintained can prevent problems from arising later that can be very costly to fix.  

Technically, your 'Building Envelope' is any barrier (floor, wall or ceiling) that separates a heated space from an unheated space (i.e. attic / cold storage). This is also, where air barriers, vapour barriers and insulation are supposed to be. If any of these components are weak, your home will become very susceptible to moisture, draft, and eventually mould problems.   Most attic / roof problems tend to be in older homes with inadequate ventilation, but still, many new homes face the same problems with poor design / installation from the start.

In winter, major damage to the roof and attic can occur from the strong temperature swings combined with warm indoor temperature, creating ice dam. An ice dam is created when warm, moist air escapes from the interior of the home into the attic or ceiling cavity, condenses as it hits the cold air, and freezes until the next thaw.  When the snow on the roof begins to melt and the water runs down toward the edge, it freezes (as this is the coldest part of the roof). The ice build-up starts to form on the shingles about where the exterior wall and the soffit (overhang) meet. Once the ice dam has formed, there is no place for the water to drain, and if enough water collects, it will back-up behind the dam under the shingles and leak into the wall cavity and interior of the home.  Ice dams can also form around skylights and exhaust fan vents if improperly installed.  The effects of this, however, are often not noticed until spring when the ice melts and water damage becomes visible.

Stopping air leaks that come from the house can eliminate many problems that arise in the attic including condensation leading to large problems and costly heating bills. This can be accomplished by sealing any cracks or leaks that may be supplying warm air to the attic (ceiling fans, pot lights, exhaust fans) by a professional.  An exhaust fan venting directly into attic space is one of the major problems professionals face.

Prolonged wetness in an attic will rot the roof sheathing and in turn contribute to mould growth that could result in contamination of indoor air quality if allowed to enter the living space.  Unfortunately, because attics are out-of-sight, they are usually out-of-mind - until moisture, odours or black mould appear  

If your roof itself is leaking into the attic, it could cause extensive water damage in your home.  It can penetrate through your ceiling, but also down the wall cavities.  When this occurs, not only does the roof need to be repaired, but the wet insulation, drywall and any other building materials will need to be replaced as mould requires as little as 24 hours to start to develop under these conditions.  A professional equipped with a protimeter or other moisture meter can do a Comprehensive Air Quality Inspection, which will also determine where the water has moved to.    

The more 'freeze-thaw' cycles our homes experience and the more we tighten up our homes with energy efficient heating systems and windows, the more these weaknesses come to light.  Never compromise the integrity of your attic of roof.  This is one area to always have a professional do a proper job at a proper price without cutting any corners.

Attic / Roof Tips:

  • Air-seal all electrical, plumbing and heating penetrations from heated space into the attic space by a professional. 
  • Never allow a contractor to move insulation in your attic without proper replacement.
  • The attic hatch itself must be adequately sealed and insulated (often an area that is overlooked). 
  • Ensure that all washroom or kitchen exhaust fans are vented directly outdoors, not into the attic space itself.
  • Ensure that the insulation covers the top-plate of walls around the exterior perimeter of your home
  • Ensure you have true R40 Insulation value in attic spaces.  Fiberglass insulation is a very poor insulator and does not do anything but create problems in the attic areas (fibreglass is technically only an air-filter that slows down the transfer of heated air, not stopping it from penetrating into the cold attic).
  • Ensure your soffit and roof meets or exceeds the minimum standards of the Building Code.
If you are concerned about the integrity of your roof or attic, call Home Heroes today for an Attic and Roof Inspection by a certified professional!  If you are noticing water damage, or an odour coming from the attic, have Home Heroes do Mould Sampling and Analysis to ensure your family is breathing clean, safe air today!
Home Heroes' CODE WORD
for Indoor Air Quality
is "IAQ"
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