If you have ever gone up into
your homeís attic during a frigid winter day and have observed frost on the
roof sheathing or roof rafters, then you have a moisture problem in your
attic. Moreover, it also tells you that that you have an insulation and home
heating efficiency problem. Consequently, you need to resolve the
circumstances that are causing the frost to form in the attic. Frost forming
in your attic should be rectified because the frost can lead to mold and
mildew growth, both of which can negatively affect the health of you and
your family. Frost in your attic also means that you need to better insulate
your attic so that the warm moist air from the lower levels of your house
can not seep up into it.
The attic ventilation system
should also be checked to make sure it is working properly. If an attic is
properly insulated and ventilated the attic air temperature should equal the
outside ambient air temperate at all times.
The root cause of frost forming in an attic is warm moist air from the
heated lower levels of the home drifting upwards and into the attic. When
the moist air comes in contact with the cold and frozen surfaces of the
attic, such as the roof sheathing and roof rafters, it freezes on contact
with them. If the temperatures in the attic are above freezing, but still
colder than the rising moist warm air, the moist air condensates on the
sheathing and rafters and forms small water droplets. As the attic air
temperature begins to drop and eventually fall below freezing, the water
droplets freeze and form a thin layer of ice.
|The main reason the warm air is making it up into the attic
is poor insulation in the attic. As a result, you should inspect your attic
insulation carefully. If you see any breaks in the attic insulation fill the
breaks with insulation. Look around the ceiling joists to make sure there
are no gaps in the insulation. Also check carefully around vent stacks and
chimneys. These two areas are notorious for allowing warm moist air to seep
up into the attic.
Also, if you have a masonry chimney, look closely around the bricks for
moisture. If some of the bricks look discolored touch the brick surfaces to
see if you feel any moisture on them.
If you do, then chances are the flashing or sealant around the chimney has
failed. If you find this to be the case, then fix the chimney flashing issue and
seal around it with a waterproof roofing sealer. However, make the repairs to
the chimney flashing and sealant on a dry day with temperatures above freezing.
Otherwise the sealant will be impossible to work with.
Lastly, inspect the bathroom exhaust fans and associated ductwork in your attic.
Bathroom exhaust fans should be vented to the outside of the home. If you find
that there is no ductwork associated with your bathroom exhaust fans, then
rectify this problem immediately. Builders often cut corners when it comes to
venting bathroom exhaust fans, so donít be surprised if you find out that your
bathroom exhaust fans are simply venting into your attic.
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If they are vented solely to the attic, then they are simply pumping in warm
moist air from the bathroom into the attic. In effect, they are acting as mold
and mildew growth machines. If you do find ductwork for the bathroom exhaust
fans, make sure that they are connected well to the outside vents and to the
fans, and that there are no cracks or leaks in them to allow warm moist air to
seep from them.
So if you observe frost forming in your attic then realize you have an attic
moisture problem that should be dealt with promptly. If you donít, youíre
putting your home and family at risk of mold and mildew issues, and youíre
spending more than you need to on home heating bills. Resolving a frosty attic
problem is relatively easy to diagnose and to correct, so donít procrastinate.
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