Homeowners tend not to check for issues in their attics issues regularly. However, inspecting the condition of your attic is vital because attic condensation can cause a significant amount of damage to your home.
What Is Attic Condensation and How is it Caused?
The primary cause of attic condensation is moisture that is transported from the heated portion of the home into your unheated attic during the winter.
When the air in your home is heated, the warm air collects water vapor from within your home. The Department of Design and Environmental Analysis at Cornell University explains that since heat rises, this warm, moist air travels into the attic through openings such as space around light fixtures and exhaust fans. As the warm air cools, the moisture in the air condenses on attic structures such as the rafters and roof sheathing.
Once the water condenses, it can drip into the insulation, which decreases the effectiveness of the insulation and leads to higher energy bills. Furthermore, condensation can cause your attic rafters and other wood features to rot and cause mold to grow. If moisture accumulates over time, water can drip through the attic floor and into the rooms below. This can cause paint damage in the lower stories of your house and can even cause ceilings to crumble.
Symptoms of Excess Moisture
If you spot any of these signs, attic condensation is damaging your home:
– Musty odors can indicate mold, mildew, or rot.
– Condensation on windows and ice on the inside of windows and other surfaces can be a sign of excess moisture.
– Mold and mildew are surface conditions that may indicate decay. They have a musty odor and are discolored as white, orange, green, brown, or black.
– Fungi (mushroom-like growths) or rot as well as peeling, blistering, and cracking paint are other surface conditions that indicate decay.
What Can You Do to Resolve or Prevent Attic Condensation in Winter?
If you have attic condensation, the first step is to make repairs to what the condensation has harmed. To completely resolve the problem, follow these steps:
1. Insulate Your Attic
Since heat in your house rises to your attic, attic insulation is vital to preventing attic condensation. If you already have insulation, make sure that attic condensation has not damaged it and that you have an adequate amount of insulation. Energy Star recommends that attics have an R-38 thermal resistance level of insulation. Depending on the type of insulation, this converts to about 10 to 14 inches of insulation.
2. Seal Air Leaks
Gaps allow warm and cool air to escape from the lower stories of your house into your attic. First, search for air leaks and caulk or weather-strip these areas. Air leaks are common in the space surrounding light fixtures and through exhaust fans.
3. Reducing Excess Sources of Moisture
If you are still having issues with attic condensation, avoid activities that can generate high levels of moisture:
– Various Domestic Activities: Avoid using methods of cooking that create large amounts of steam. Limit time in the bath and shower. And do not hang wet clothing inside to dry.
– Do Not Vent Your Clothes Dryer into Your House: If your clothes dryer vents into your house, replace this system so that it vents outside. Clothes dryers emit large amounts of water vapor in a short period of time. Therefore, it is vital to not allow your clothes dryer to vent into your home.
– Faulty Heating Systems: Replace inefficient appliances used for heating water or cooking.
– Plumbing Leaks: To check your plumbing, watch and listen for leaks while running each part of the system for 10 to 15 minutes. Check all accessible pipes. However, leaking pipes may be buried in the floor or hidden in walls.
– Humidifiers: Limit your humidifier usage to avoid creating condensation.
– House Plants: Houseplants contribute to the amount of moisture in your house. If you have a large number of houseplants, consider limiting the number of plants you keep inside.
– Firewood: If you store firewood inside your home, store it outside instead. Although firewood seems dry, it can contain a large amount of water that creates moisture in your home as the wood dries.
While the symptoms and causes of attic condensation are still in your mind, check your attic. If you suspect attic condensation is damaging your home, act immediately. If you ignore the problem, it will only get worse. After you repair the damages attic condensation has caused, all you need to do is figure out the cause of your attic condensation.