Roof leaks can be a scary problem, because an out of control roof leak can lead to moisture damage, mold, mildew and more. That said, if you notice moisture in your attic, your problem may not be a roof leak at all.
Attic condensation can mimic the appearance of a roof leak, making it hard to tell which kind of problem you're having. Knowing the difference between a roof leak and condensation, and what to do about it, can help you take care of your home. Here's what you need to know.
Why Does My Attic Have Condensation?
Attic condensation develops during winter and spring when warm moist air from the house rises into the attic space. When the warm moist air meets the underside of your cold roof deck, condensation occurs. This is the same phenomenon that causes cold drinks to "sweat" in summer.
In the winter, condensation turns to frost. Frost poses no threat to your roof. However, when the frost melts, it turns back into water which can cause wood rot, mold and more.
What Causes Attic Condensation
There may be multiple causes of attic condensation in your house. Poor attic insulation, as well as poor ventilation, can cause your attic to trap humid air from your home. Improperly vented bathroom and dryer exhausts can also cause attic condensation.
Most homeowners have a hard time identifying the cause of their attic condensation on their own. If you're trying to find out why your attic has condensation, it helps to get the opinion of an expert.
How to Identify Attic Condensation
Roof leaks tend to be localized, with obvious problem areas where water is penetrating the sheath. Attic condensation is often less localized, without obvious staining and points of entry. Some signs that your attic is experiencing condensation include:
- Signs water has (or is) trickling down the walls
- Musky, damp odor
- Dark stains
- Damp or wet insulation
- Damp or wet wood
- Water marks on the floor
- Moisture on glass window panes or other flat surfaces
- Buckled, damaged or wet roof sheathing
- Wide spread nail pops
If your attic has condensation, you may notice these problems in many parts of your attic, or in large areas, like all against one wall. If your attic has a leak, you may notice these problems in a much smaller, more confined part of the attic. Staining may be in one corner or in an area around the chimney, vents and so on.
How to Stop Condensation in Your Attic
Since there are many things that can cause condensation, fixing the problem isn't always very straightforward. Ultimately, if you can't determine the exact cause of the condensation, you may have to try several tactics until you find the right one for you.
Eliminate or reduce air leakage into the attic. Check and seal all vents that could potentially be leaking warm air into your attic. Inspect the vents for damaged caulking, cracks and more. These are potential points of entry where humid air could be leaking into the attic. Once these problems are repaired, the problem may be fixed.
Improve attic insulation/ventilation. Poor ventilation in the attic prevents humid air from exiting once it enters. Inspect all ventilation in the attic to ensure that it's functional. Sometimes, vents can be covered up during repairs or when the attic is insulated. Ensure that all vents are open to allow moisture to exit the attic, and that the insulation is not blocking the vents.
Ensure bathroom & dryer vents are routed outside. If your home was not built properly to code, the bathroom and dryer vents could be venting into your attic instead of the outside. Check your vents to ensure they're going to the right spot, and if not, reroute them.
Roofing Maintenance in North Carolina
Pickard Roofing offers regular roof maintenance for residences in and around Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, NC. We provide peace of mind to homeowners who just want a beautiful, functional roof to protect their home. To get started with your re-roofing project or roof repair, call us today.
At Pickard Roofing, we think Design. Craft. Renew. We are experienced in all types of roofing systems- and provide the right roofing design and selective craftsmanship for renewing our customer’s assets. We invite sustainable building customers to give us a call for your free evaluation. For over 90 years Pickard Roofing Company has installed countless metal, tile, slate, TPO, EPDM, and all types of shingle roofing in the Triangle. Our services include residential, commercial, custom architectural metal fabrication, and historical renovation.