This winter has proven to be a pleasant surprise.  We haven't had to dodge those dangerous icicles like we do some winters.  In some ways you might be correct in saying you've dodged a bullet this year...but have you?  Improperly insulated attics can have a huge effect on heating and cooling bills.  Just because you escaped the dangerous icicles it doesn't mean everything is as it should be.

The following is a very informative writing from Jag Construction about the need for proper attic insulation:

Attic ventilation was designed as a way to combat the effects incapable insulation had on the roof deck & your living space. In the winter the warm air that escapes through fiberglass & cellulose insulations can cause condensation on the roof deck. If this happens the moisture will become trapped in the attic and begin to rot out the wood. Attic ventilation creates an air flow within the attic that will expel the warm, condensation causing, air into the outdoors. If the attic is vented properly and the insulation only has minor air leakage then the ventilation system will work as designed. A bi-product of well-ventilated roofing system is the resolution of ice dams. This is because the warm air that causes the condensation on the inside is the same air the melts the snow on the outside leading to the formation of ice dams.

Attic ventilation is only trying to solve a symptom of a much larger and more expensive problem. Insulation that is allowing heat loss is the real issues causing all of these other problems. When ventilation is used to prevent condensation from gathering inside the attic, in turn what you’re really doing is venting the air from your heating system directly to the outdoors. This is extremely inefficient and expensive to do. A better solution would be to install an insulation that can prevent air leakage and moisture accumulation. This will lead to the roof deck moisture accumulation and ice dams never being a problem.

The roof ventilation approach can be effective or ineffective. Success is dependent on how well the inlet vents, exit vents are working together. Installed improperly and these can have an enormous effect on icicles along with the structures heating and cooling bills. The ventilation intake system should not pull conditioned air from within the thermal boundary or short circuited by a gable vent or other improper combinations. An improperly balanced system may not have enough draw to vent off the heat loss from the structure and begin to create icicles. If the ventilation system is pulling conditioned air from the structure and/or a mixture of outdoor air is the first item to be verified. If you can determine that it is all outdoor air (i.e. spray foam to the attic floor) then you need to consider balancing the inlet and outlet ventilation system. Verification can be accomplished with depressurization of the structure and enhanced with infrared imaging.

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