Why you need an attic fan in winter
Most homeowners buy attic fans in the summer. That’s when they’re most concerned about venting hot air before it can build up and overheat their homes. But here’s a fact many people don’t know: attic fans are just as important, if not more so, in the winter. That’s when moisture accumulation tends to increase due to extreme temperature variances, and it can be just as damaging to a home as heat. This silent menace can prompt leaks, mold and fungus growth, insulation damage, and wood rot.
Fortunately, attic fans are designed to not only dispel summer heat but also to reduce winter moisture. Read on to learn more about the dangers of moisture buildup and how an attic fan can help prevent them.
During summer, hot air that builds up in an attic flows downward into the living spaces below. In the winter, the process reverses. As heated, interior air moves throughout a home, it collects water vapor that is created when homeowners bathe, cook, wash dishes, do laundry, and run humidifiers. The warm, moist air then travels into the attic where the air is cooler and drier. Even homes with vapor barriers are vulnerable because air can travel through openings around light fixtures, bathroom exhaust fans, and attic entrances into the upper recesses of a home.
As the warm air contacts the cooler surfaces of attic structures like rafters, trusses and roof sheathing, the moisture it was carrying collects on the surface as water droplets or frost. Eventually, this condensation drips onto the insulation below. If it absorbs too much water, the insulation can compress and become less effective. As a result, heat loss increases, causing the temperature to decrease in the living spaces below. The homeowner reacts by turning up the furnace, which leads to higher energy bills.
But condensation can cause even more serious damage than that. If left unchecked, it can be absorbed by the structural elements of your home. This can lead to wood rot, the breakdown of roofing materials, and mold and fungus growth. Accumulated moisture can also drip onto the attic floor, seeping through to the rooms below and creating water spots, paint damage and crumbling ceilings.
Damage from ice dams
In climates where winter snow and cold temperatures are common, ice dams are another concern. An ice dam is created when warm indoor air rises to the peak of the attic. It melts snow on the roof, which flows down toward the eaves and gutter where the roof temperature is cooler. This causes the snowmelt to refreeze and, over several days, to accumulate into a pile of ice. The blockage prevents water from draining, so it forces its way under the shingles where it induces leaks and results in damage to roof structures, walls, ceilings and insulation.
How attic fans help
All homes are at risk for moisture accumulation, even newer ones that use advanced insulation materials and methods to make them more energy efficient. The drawback is that this also keeps cooler, drier exterior air out, so interior air tends to hold more moisture.
An attic fan helps by equalizing the indoor and outdoor temperatures. By continually exchanging warm, moist air from inside the attic with cooler, drier air from the outside of the home, it prevents condensation from occurring. The ventilation process also helps to maintain even attic temperatures, which keeps ice dams from forming.
Installing an attic fan before winter snows and cold temperatures hit can help eliminate structural damage and costly home repairs. Solar Star Attic Fans by Solatube offer a simple, affordable and easy solution for common attic ventilation winter woes.
Designed for maximum airflow, reliable performance, and whisper-quiet operation, energy-efficient Solar Star Attic Fans install easily and require no maintenance. They also use solar power, so they cost nothing to operate. To learn how to winterize your home in less than two hours with a Solar Star Attic Fan, visit solarstaratticfans.com.