9
Jan

Roof & Attic Ventilation – Extend Your Roof’s Lifespan

Roof & Attic Ventilation – Extend Your Roof’s Lifespan

Roof Ventilation

 

More than ever, homeowners are frustrated by poor-performing roofing products, especially when a new roof costs between $5,000 and $10,000 and lasts only 12 to 15 years. In some cases, it is a troublesome brand of materials. More often, however, inadequate attic ventilation is the culprit. Building standards, driven by energy shortages, have sewn up the homes that we live in tighter than a drum. Surprisingly, standards of ventilation adopted in the 1930s are still in use today. Therefore, most homes are woefully under-ventilated.

Home Ventilation and Energy-Efficiency

If you take a moment and think about it, it’s easy to understand why ventilation and energy-efficiency work as a catch-22. Many of the principles of creating an energy-efficient home deal with locking air inside the home to prevent heat loss. This, in turn, creates an environment of continuously recycled air. In recent years, indoor air pollution has become a bigger problem than outdoor air pollution. Air filtration systems can help purify this recycled air, but energy-efficient homes lock in moisture as well as air. This can lead to condensation forming on your windows, mold problems, and roofing failures caused by wood rot and ice dams. Roof ventilation is the best and, in many cases, the only way to prevent these air and moisture problems.

Roof Ventilation

Roof ventilation is a major concern to anyone who is contemplating having their home re-roofed. It is common for the average household to produce from four to five pounds of water vapor per day. To illustrate how much water that is, go to your kitchen sink, fill an empty one-gallon container with water, and pour that on the floor. In poorly ventilated homes, this moisture has nowhere to go. So it forms condensation on the underside of the plywood sheeting of the roof, causing the plywood to expand, buckle, and delaminate. Naturally, this degrading plywood has a detrimental effect on the roofing, including reduced nail holding power, wind damage due to an uneven deck, and stress cracks due to unstable decking materials. This is why turbine ventilators should never be covered up in the winter.

Attic Ventilation Systems

During the summer, when temperatures can soar above 100 degrees, your attic is 145 degrees and the temperature on your new roof is nearly 180 degrees. It is now more important than ever for a total roof ventilation system. A proper attic vent system consists of an intake and an exhaust. Most often, this system works much like your fireplace. As warm air rises, it creates a slight suction at the intake vents. This relatively cooler air removes excess heat from the underside of the sheeting as it exits the exhaust. This cycle of heat exchange regulates the temperatures of the new shingle, saving your roofing investment from becoming a cinder.

When it comes to ventilation, more is always better. Choices are many for both attic and roof ventilation. The turbine ventilators are a good product, but the aesthetics are poor. They can also become a maintenance headache as they get older. Dormer vents are another way to go. They are simple and can be installed out of sight at the rear of the building. Proper attic ventilation in your new roof may be the difference between a successful, long-lived roof and a complete failure in a very short period of time. Considering the high cost of re-roofing the average home, a few hundred dollars for additional attic ventilation is, indeed, a very wise investment.

9
Jan

Move On Up with Attic Conversions

Move On Up with Attic Conversions

Converted attic

Many homeowners, when their family grows too big for a small house, will consider room extensions to create additional square footage and space. However, new additions can be expensive, time-consuming, and can ruin the look of your exterior facade. Instead, many people decide it best to “build up” by remodeling their upstairs storage area. An attic conversion allows you to utilize used space to its greatest potential. Instead of building new additions horizontally, which can also eat up valuable lawn and garden area, renovating vertically is an easy way to develop pre-existing square footage into suitable living spaces.

Things to Think About

Before you make a decision about a major attic renovation, you’ll first want to ask yourself a few questions. You want to make sure you have a clear goal in mind before hiring a contractor so that you’ll be able to communicate your ideas better. By considering these questions about the project beforehand, you and your contractor will both be able to get on the same page and work towards a final, common vision.

  • What is its purpose? Do you want it to be a master bedroom, a guest bedroom, a library, or a home office? Many times these spaces make for a unique loft that you can use as an entertainment area. In fact if you think about this upstairs space like you would a finished basement, many new ideas begin to pop up: a pool table, a wet bar, or maybe a home theater are all possibilities.
  • Are there obstacles? Look at the space and see what difficulties will have to be overcome. Is the space big enough to work with? Is there enough headroom? Is the roof pitched? Do these “obstacles” create inconvenience or a unique look to the room? Are there beams and trusses taking up additional space? Is the floor reinforced to hold furniture? These are questions that contractors immediately think about, so inspect the area to make sure it’s worth it before committing to the project.
  • What isn’t there? Remember, many times these areas weren’t originally meant to be living spaces, so think about what will have to done to make it comfortable and safe. Unlike building additions where all the planning is customized to the new project, building around pre-constructed areas can be a pain. You could run into hidden problems by working with old materials and pre-existing structures.

So keep in mind all the things you’ll have to add in order to create an adequate living area. Do you have easy access? Many times these storage spaces come with pull down stairs, so you will probably have to add a walk-up staircase. This area is usually meant to be sealed up and ignored, so you’ll have to add windows, dormers, or skylights to brighten up the place. It can get really hot and very cold up there, so extra insulation will be required in your attic renovation. Also, there are the details of flooring, drywall, plumbing, and electrical work. So make sure you think about all the details you’ll need to invest in before calling the contractor.

The Code

Whenever you add extra living space to your home, you’ll need to get a building permit approved by the city. This also goes for attic conversions. Oftentimes the contractor will make sure everything is up to code and will take care of permits from the city, but you want to make sure the space is properly approved, otherwise it is against the law and your attic renovation could be unsafe to live in.

But once everything is set in motion, attic conversions are a fun and unique way to add square footage to your home. Though they can be a bit expensive and the actual remodel could take several weeks (all of this is contingent upon the size of the space), the final result will create more value to your house and the extra room is well worth the expense.

9
Jan

Are Dormers Right for Your Home? A Look at the Pros and Cons

Are Dormers Right for Your Home? A Look at the Pros and Cons

Dormers

 

Dormers — those windows you sometimes see sticking vertically from a slanted roof — can be a great way to add dimension, function and style to your home’s exterior. Of course, they can also be expensive and hard to install. Here’s a look at some of the pros and cons of dormers, as well as some of the different types available, to help you decide whether dormers are right for your home.

Benefits of Dormers: Dormers offer a numbers of benefits to homeowners and their families. First, dormers create better air flow, improve lighting, and increase height and square footage in the upper areas of the home. Second, dormers create an additional opening for use in situations requiring emergency exit from the home. And third, dormers add unique detail to a home’s interior and exterior, thereby increasing both the character and the property value of the home.

Drawbacks of Dormers: Despite the many advantages of dormers, they come with a few drawbacks as well. For starters, dormers may be difficult and expensive to install — particularly in existing structures. Not only will adding dormers require a significant amount of time and materials, but dormers may also require permits and licensing, as well as the work of an expert contractor and architect or engineer. Further, dormers generally require a fair amount of routine maintenance to ensure that they are adequately protected from the wears and tears of elemental exposure.

Common Dormer Types: There are a number of dormer types available. The dormers best suited to your home will depend on the aesthetics and construction of your home, the total budget for your project, and the benefits you wish to realize with the finished product. Here’s a look at some of the most common dormers:

  • Barrel: Includes an rounded roof at the top of the window.
  • Eyebrow: Includes a curved roof (the curve resembling that of an eyebrow) at the top of the window.
  • False or Blind: Includes a false dormer solely for improved exterior aesthetics (i.e., does not include benefits of added space, light and ventilation).
  • Flat: Includes a flat roof at the top of the window.
  • Gable: The most common dormer type, includes a pointed roof above the window.
  • Hipped: A gabled dormer that slopes backward.
  • Recessed: A dormer inset into the main roof.
  • Shed: A basic dormer structure designed to maximize space underneath.

Dormer Installation: Installing dormers is a project best left to the pros. Local experts will know which permits are required in your area, and they will also be able to address any structural, seasonal or material concerns.


9
Jan

Getting to Know Attic Ventilation

Getting to Know Attic Ventilation

Attic vents

 

Attic ventilation is one of the single most important aspects of your home when it comes maintaining high energy efficiency, besides its numerous other benefits. If you suspect you don’t have sufficient ventilation in your attic, or just want to upgrade the ventilation system you do have, talk to a roofing contractor or ventilation specialist about the best available options for your home.

Why Attic Ventilation Is So Important during Summer Months

First and foremost, proper ventilation in your attic means big energy savings. During the summer months an improperly ventilated attic can reach temperatures of over 160 degrees, and all that heat radiates right down into your home. If you’ve got an air conditioner, it’s working overtime to compensate and costing you money. And if you don’t have an air conditioner, all that extra heat can make hot summer days almost unbearable. By installing proper ventilation you can drastically cut down the time you’ll need to run your AC, save money, and make your home more comfortable, all in one fell swoop.

Why Proper Ventilation Is So Important: the Winter Version

In the winter, your attic ventilation serves an entirely different purpose. Poor ventilation can lead to moisture build-up in your attic, and in the winter months that can mean big trouble. As the temperature in your attic fluctuates with the weather outside, that moisture can actually condensate, freeze, and then “rain” down on your attic when it melts. The result is water damage, and even worse, mold and mildew buildup. Furthermore, a well ventilated attic helps prevent ice and snow buildup on the outside of your roof as well, both of which can lead to host of other problems. Basically it doesn’t matter what the season is, a well-ventilated attic is a home improvement must.

Tools of the Trade

A contractor who specializes in attic ventilation will be able to inform you which ventilation systems are best for your home, since your home design may limit, to some extent, the options you have to choose from. Nonetheless, here is a quick list of the most popular ventilation systems being installed today.

  • Ridge and Soffit Vents: This is as simple as it gets. Soffit vents are installed under the eaves of your home, and ridge vents are put in along the roofline. With proper passive ventilation both at the base and peak of your roof, you’ve created all that is necessary for fresh air to continually flow in, up, and out of your attic, which is the primary goal.
  • Fan Powered Roof Vents: These are basically ridge vents with electrical fans built in that speed up the process mentioned above. They can either be operated manually with a switch, or wired to turn on automatically when the temperature in your attic reaches a certain point.
  • Attic Exhaust Fan: Instead of being installed at the peak of your home, attic exhaust fans are installed in the gable. They usually require adding extra ventilation elsewhere (usually in the form of a gable vent on the other side of the attic) because they blow so much hot air out, and in turn draw in fresh outside air to replace it. These fans make a huge difference where both ventilation and energy savings are concerned.You really can’t go wrong when it comes improving ventilation in your attic. It makes for a safer and more comfortable home, and since this is one of those energy efficient home improvements that saves you money over time, it ends up paying for itself in the end.
  • 9
    Jan

    Getting into Your Attic with Attic Stairs

    Getting into Your Attic with Attic Stairs

    Kitchen with attic stairs

     

    Attics are one of the most common untapped living spaces in homes today. Attic renovations are a great idea to create that home office or extra bedroom in your home that you’ve always wanted. In order to get into this new living space, though, you need a dependable way to get in and out of your attic. Folding attic stairs aren’t the old, creaky, rotting attic stairs of your parent’s old house. New attic stairs are made from steel, are safe, fire-resistant, and provide easy access to your newly renovated attic.

    Folding Attic Stairs and Ladders

    Steel attic stairs are engineered for safe access, with increased weight capacity, and greater durability. Few homeowners are as concerned about the tradition and warmth of natural wood for their attic stairs as in other areas of their home. Weatherstripping and insulated stair doors create an energy-efficient attic opening. Attic stairs can be painted or finished to match any attic décor.

    Folding ladders, specialty stairs, or loft ladders can all be used for smaller access spaces and/or for people with limited mobility. Naturally, attic stairs or ladders can be installed as part of an attic renovation or as their own separate project. Often, old, wooden stairs fall into disrepair while the general condition of the attic is still decent. On the other hand, the need to replace your attic stairs can be just as good an excuse as any to consider an attic renovation for your home.

    Attic Stair Installation

    Attic stair installation is a relatively easy project and well within the purview of most DIYers, if there’s attic opening that doesn’t need to be enlarged. Creating or enlarging an attic opening can be a tricky prospect, as you must avoid pipes, wiring, and roof trusses. The other tricky part of attic stair installation can be conforming to building codes. Many areas now require a certain amount of access space to create a stair design that isn’t dangerously steep. Attic stairs are generally steeper than other stairs in the home, and your local building codes may make exceptions or they may not. Often, older attic stairs are grandfathered in under old building codes, but once they’re replaced the new codes have to be observed.

    Attic Renovations

    Don’t get ahead of yourself. Before you install folding attic stairs, make sure an attic renovation is a plausible home improvement project. Without adequate headroom, not only will your renovated attic feel claustrophobic, it may not pass building codes. If you’re on a budget, make sure you determine if your attic has pre-existing joists that are adequate to hold the weight of a few people and some basic furniture. Installing reinforced joists will significantly add to the price of your attic renovation, but skipping this step can lead to damaged floor ceilings. Some roof designs, especially in newer homes, also have a prohibitive number or cross joists and beams that render the available attic space implausible for renovation.