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Old 01-24-2007, 01:50 PM   #1
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Older house, no soffit vents- what to do?


Hello!

I've done some reading for the past few days on these forums trying to find someone with a similar issue with their roof venting, but haven't quite found a duplicate.

We bought this house (cottage style, approximate construction 1945) in summer, and have been doing minor work all over the house where previous owners "did things wrong." During the purchasing process of the house, our inspector reported no evidence of moisture in the attic, and that the roof was within 2 years old.

The house has had snow for the past few weeks on northern aspects of the roof. I have been up in the attic doing some rewiring (a previous owner did some bad stuff!), and cleaning up the place in preparation for extra added insulation. I noticed that frost was present on the lower portion of the "main" roof in the NW corner while checking wiring. The frost appeared to only go up perhaps 4' on this corner, and it was mostly apparent on shingle nails stuck through the roof panels.


The roof is vented in the three gable ends, approximately where the blue rectangle in this image is located. There are also four roof vents along the northern side of the main ridge. All these vents are unobstructed. The only frost I've seen has been in the NW corner of the original house roof. There is an extension on the N side of the house with a rubber roof that is very shallow in its slope (I apologize for not knowing the measurements here). The extension's roof is sealed off from the old pitched roof (again, which was rebuilt in '05 I believe). The frost was visible in the vicinity of the red circled area.

The only attic ventilation I can find is in the gable ends and in the ridge vents. The eaves on the pitched roof are virtually non-existent and have only maybe 3" of soffit and maybe a 70* angled aluminum flashing that is perhaps 8" long that goes up to the shingles. I wouldn't worry about not having soffit vents, except now that I've noticed some frost, I think something needs to be done.

My questions are, first, what might be a good way to vent the lower section of the NW pitched roof where it meets the rubber extension roof of the expansion? I was thinking of possibly installing a 4" circular side attached to a perforated tube that runs the length of the expansion. Second, I haven't noticed any houses in the area of similar age and style that have soffit vents. This goes for houses with new roofs, old roofs, and everything. In fact, some houses nearby of similar style have absolutely NO eaves at all. In these situations, how can the attic be ventilated properly?

Thank you for any help you can give me!

-ben

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Old 01-24-2007, 02:09 PM   #2
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Older house, no soffit vents- what to do?


From your drawing it looks too close to the shed style roof below to put any soffit vents. It also doesn't look like you have much room on the soffits elsewhere for any vents.

You may actually solve the moisture issue with your insulation. Whats happening is that warm air from your house is meeting the cold roof deck and nails and condensing causing the frost and moisture. If you keep that warm air in the living space you may not have the issue anymore.

If its only frost on the nails, and not on the under side of the roof deck, and its not dripping when the temp is above freezing, I wouldn't worry about it. I would just check periodically after you insulate to see if things improve or get worse. No sense making more work for yourself right now.

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Old 01-24-2007, 02:25 PM   #3
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Older house, no soffit vents- what to do?


My limited Google Sketchup skills make the roof look like there are no eaves. There are eaves, they're just very slim: 3" soffit, then angled aluminum about 10" up to the shingles.

Since I don't see moisture or frost in the attic except this spot, would it be a reasonable to just put in the insulation and go with the "if it isn't broke, then don't fix it" attitude for the rest of the attic?

I didn't mention before that there is very little insulation at all in the attic right now: maybe 3" of blown in and occasional random lengths of R11 fiberglass. Might all of this escaping heat from the living space into the attic cause it to be dryer now than if it were well insulated, or am I backwards in this thought?

-ben
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Old 01-24-2007, 02:37 PM   #4
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Older house, no soffit vents- what to do?


Good job with sketchup actually.

Yea, like I said. Insulate and it may be OK. Just leave an airspace under the roof deck, down to the eaves. Just like you had a vent in the soffit.

I think you may be backwards on your last comment. Its like when you take that cold beverage out of the fridge on a warm day. It drips condensation. The nails are the beverage in your relatively warm attic. Essentially you want the under side of the roof deck to be the same temp as the outside temp.
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