Attic Condensation & Venting - What's the Deal?

sad face on window condensation
December 28, 2018

If you’ve noticed unusual moisture in your home since the weather turned colder, the source of this water may be coming from your roof and attic area. It’s important to understand the sources of moisture so that you can implement the right solution.

Three Types of Leaks, Explained

There are three types of “leaks” that Wisconsin homeowners may experience:

Leaky roof

This type of moisture is apparent when it’s raining. The cause might be missing shingles, a structural problem or improper flashing or sealing around chimneys, vent pipes, skylights, dormers or other rooftop structures. Of course, these structural types of leaks should be repaired as quickly as possible, and a damage assessment of your attic insulation is recommended.

Ice dams

These leaks are not structural but rather the result of melting and refreezing cycles on your roof. When snow melts and refreezes into icy blockages, melting water can build up behind the ice dam and flow up under your roof shingles. These leaks can be prevented by removing excess snow from your roof.

Often, the root cause of ice dams is insufficient attic insulation, which heats the surface of the roof and melted any accumulated snow. The pros at Wisconsin Home Improvement can recommend other ice dam prevention steps to take.

Attic condensation

This “leak” can be a bit more subtle, but may show up as fogging on the inside of windows and skylights, or as a damp patch on the ceiling. This attic condensation wetness is caused not by rain or snow, but by temperature differences that cause humidity to condense inside the same way water beads up on a cool glass in the summer. This dampness can cause plenty of damage to your attic insulation and cause problems with mold and mildew inside your home.

What Causes Condensation?

Condensation occurs when there is excess moisture in the air. When warm, moist air comes into contact with a cooler surface, the air must release the excess water as it cools. The more humidity there is in the air, the more condensation and wetness will cling to cooler surfaces.

Inside homes in the Menomonee Falls, WI area, moisture has many sources:

  • People and animal respiration — every occupant will contribute about 3 pints of water a day to indoor air

  • Water related activities — including showering, laundry, cooking and doing the dishes

What’s the Big Deal About Attic Condensation?

The space between the underside of your roof and the attic floor also can collect humidity, especially if the attic is not properly ventilated. Condensation forms in the winter when the extreme cold temperatures we experience in Wisconsin cause frost to build up on the underside of the roof. When that frost warms up, it melts and causes what what looks like a roof leak with damp spots or water coming through the ceilings.

Air Sealing & Insulation Upgrades to Manage Attic Temperatures

Since differences in air temperatures from inside your home and out can result in condensation, one way to manage attic moisture is to seal any air leaks in the attic area and improve the level of insulation. Insulation keeps your home’s living areas warm and also prevents warm air from escaping and causing condensation in your unheated attic spaces.

Improved Ventilation Can Prevent Condensation Damage

While air sealing and insulation can dramatically improve your home’s comfort and efficiency, a tightly sealed home also needs to have the right kind of ventilation to keep indoor air fresh and maintain levels of humidity. Just like the living areas of your home, your attic space needs good ventilation to reduce humidity buildup that can cause condensation. Your attic vents need to operate properly to vent excess moisture and heat that builds up in the attic.

Next Steps to “Rule Your Roof”

Balancing your home’s comfort, efficiency and humidity levels can get complicated. That’s why Menomonee Falls homeowners count on the expertise of Wisconsin Home Improvement to provide a comprehensive approach to addressing your home’s attic condensation problems.

A home performance audit by Wisconsin Home Insulation includes a comprehensive attic, basement and exterior assessment to pinpoint your attic and interior home condensation sources. Our efficiency expert will visually confirm where under-insulated areas are located, and identify the source of condensation, moisture and mold issues. With this data in hand, we can recommend ways to solve your attic condensation problem once and for all!

Identify the source of condensation and poor attic ventilation. Schedule a home energy audit to identify condensation problems.

Water leaks or condensation in your attic?

We can help.

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