Attic Ventilation Troubleshooting and Radiant Barrier

In this video I’m going to talk about the
#1 attic ventilation problem that most people don’t even know they have. At AtticFoil.com
we help customers every day with questions about installing radiant barrier foil and
fixing attic ventilation problems. People call and they want to know why is my attic
so hot and what can I do to fix it? So we start asking them questions to get more information
and we commonly ask, “When was the last time you cleaned your soffit vents?” Usually there
is one of two answers: I’ve never cleaned my soffit vents OR what is a soffit vent?
Attic ventilation is really pretty simple. You’ve got holes in the top of the attic and
holes in the bottom of the attic. Air comes IN the bottom of the attic and it travels
through the attic and OUT the top, and it heats up as it goes along. It’s actually a
cooling mechanism; heat is being extracted off the roof and that’s why the air gets hot.
If you’ve got clogged or dirty soffit vents, no air can come into the attic! You’ve got
to have a method of cleaning those soffit vents to allow the attic to breathe and for
the air to go through the attic. Now, why do we want attic ventilation? In the summer
we want to take out heat and in the winter we want to take out moisture. The way air
comes in to an attic is through the soffit vents. Now the soffit vents are usually rectangular
vents in the eaves of the attic/roof that have louvers with a wire mesh behind them.
The louvers usually face the wall, so just by looking at them from down below (outside),
sometimes you can’t tell that they are dirty. You’ve got to get up and look in the louvers;
it’s a lot like the lint trap on a dryer: eventually stuff will get in to the mesh behind
the vent and completely clog the soffit vent. Once you clean them, you’ll have amazing results.
I’ve seen many times where you clean the soffit vents and within 15-20 minutes, the air temperature
in the attic drops by 15-20 degrees and the wind turbines that people thought were broken,
now they are spinning like the day that they installed them. Soffit vents get dirty or
clogged for several reasons. One, stuff floating by and especially on older homes they get
painted over two or three times, they get clogged with paint, there is a lot of different
things that can cause a soffit vent to be clogged. Now the way to clean these is really
simple. You want to get a nylon brush, kinda like the brush you use to clean the tires
on a car, and just brush it really good, side to side and tap it a few times and you’ll
see all the “stuff” fall down and then come through with a leaf blower, stick the nozzle
up under the louvers, put that leaf blower on and blow from the bottom. It’ll kick off
anything that’s in the attic sitting on the wire mesh, whether it be attic insulation
or construction debris, it’ll kick it to the side and allow air to go through the soffit.
Now, you never want to use water, you don’t want to spray water into your attic and an
air compressor really won’t do a lot to clean them. Once you brush it real good and you
blow it with a leaf blower it should clear it up pretty open. Here is another issue on
soffit vents most people don’t know about, especially on new construction: you may have
a brand new soffit vent, like this one pictured here, but if you look closely, where the little
red box is, that’s the actual hole behind the soffit vent! Here is a picture with the
vent pulled down (a similar vent) and you can see how the hole is just small. What you’ve
gotta do is pull the vent cover down, cut a new hole and put up a new vent. Here’s an
example of the extreme where all they did was take a hammer and just bang a couple of
holes in the bottom of this vent and that’s an 8″x16″ soffit vent and the hole is probably
the size of the palm of your hand. No air is going to get through that soffit vent!
Attic ventilation is important, but if you’re really trying to make your attic more comfortable
and drop the temperature in your home to make it more efficient, you want to install a radiant
barrier. The description is kinda like a car: if you park it in the sun, it’s gonna be hot;
if you crack the windows, it’s gonna help some, but really if you want to make a big
impact, you want to park that car in the shade. Attic ventilation is kinda like cracking the
windows in a car parked in the sun, and parking a car under a tree (or in the shade) is like
radiant barrier. A radiant barrier will make a far bigger impact than ANY ventilation can.
So by stapling up the radiant barrier, the roof gets hot and normally that heat radiates
across the attic – you can have great ventilation and the attic air temperature may be close
to ambient temperature, but the top surface temperature of the insulation still may be
120 to 130 degrees. When you put a radiant barrier in, you block that path, you reflect
the heat back and you keep the attic contents cooler and more comfortable. Consider installing
a radiant barrier along with good ventilation and your home will be more comfortable and
energy efficient. For more information, visit AtticFoil.com.
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Bernard Jenkins

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