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Should I Close The Attic Vents In the Winter?

Episode 1: Should I Close The Attic Vents In the Winter?

This weeks question is coming from Marcel from Fairfax, VA. Marcel asked: “Are the vents in my attic helping the heat escape in the winter? Should I Close the Attic Vents in the Winter?

Great question, Marcel! Here’s my answer:

You probably already know that attic vents are important both to your roof’s longevity and to keeping your energy bills down during the summer. After all, one of the purposes of attic vents is to help release some of the heat from the attic and prevent it from becoming super-heated. So in a way the idea of closing those vents during the winter also makes sense, because theoretically, this would help prevent heat from escaping your home during the winter when you’re trying to keep it in. There’s another piece to this puzzle, however, that you need to understand before you set off to shut your vents.

Releasing Moisture

Your attic vents perform another job than just releasing excess heat during the summer; they also release excess moisture from your attic during the winter. Believe it or not, the cold temperatures outside combined with the warm air down below mean that there can be an excessive amount of moisture building up in your attic during the cold winter months.

If you were to shut your vents, trying to keep the heat in, you could also be trapping that moisture. Over time, the warm moist air in your attic can become the perfect breeding ground for things like black mold and mildew. Left alone, these can have a major impact on your family’s health, as well as on the structure of your attic and roof deck, since mold actually eats the materials that it’s growing on.

Roof Health

Your attic vents also do more for your roof than merely preventing it from becoming overheated in the winter; they can help stop and prevent ice dams as well.

Ice dams are the result of all the snow that falls on your roof melting and then refreezing on the edges where they build up into thick blankets of ice that can force water and moisture up beneath your shingles. Over time, this can cause your roof deck and your shingles to begin to deteriorate.

Having your attic properly ventilated during the winter means that your roof won’t get too warm because you’re trapping air in the attic itself. If your roof isn’t warming up too much during the cold, snowy weather, then the snow that lands on your roof won’t melt immediately only to refreeze on the edges where it can form ice dams.

While removing the snow from your roof is always your best defense against ice dams and problems caused by ice and snow on your roof, having your attic properly ventilated all winter long can go a fair way toward helping to prevent issues from occurring.

Keep Them Open

Bottom line; shutting the vents in your attic during the winter isn’t going to help you hang on to too much heat where you actually want it – in the living areas of your home. Instead, it will merely cause a build-up of moisture and heat that can cause other, more troubling conditions in your home come spring.

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Thank you, for your question, Marcel!

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