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Why Your Attic Is So Hot & What You Can Do About It


Ever wondered why your attic can get so much hotter than the rest of your house? The ever changing climate has allowed for temperatures in many places to spike up to 100° F, and your home, most especially your attic, cannot be spared from this. But fret not, because with the right materials, cooling down your attic only takes a little handiwork.

In properly designed attics, ideally, air would freely flow from inside to outside of the house, allowing the room to cool down and achieve a temperature that’s close to the outside environment. So when it’s cold outside, you’d expect your attic to also be cold. But because of the lack of insulation, your attic builds up heat more easily than the rest of your house because it directly receives heat from the sun. Your attic gains heat at a rate that’s much faster than it can allow hot air to escape. This is one of the major reasons your attic can feel so hot. Read on to know more about why your attic is hot and what you can do to cool it down.

Poor Insulation

Poor insulation is one of the most common culprits for excessively hot temperatures inside the house. If your attic is unbearably hot and feels dry, then you might want to check your existing insulation. Is it still doing its job or do you already need to replace it?

The R-value of an insulation represents its ability to resist the conductive flow of heat. If you’re looking to improve the insulation in your attic, the US Department of Energy actually recommends an R30 insulation or better in Zones 1 to 3 where it can be really hot especially during summer. Installing the appropriate insulation with an adequate R-value will significantly improve the temperature of your attic.

Fiberglass or mineral wool batt insulation is one of the most common insulation solutions used in attics. It has two main types – faced and unfaced, and they only differ in that faced insulation has the ability to control the movement of moisture into your living space. If you’re installing faced insulation on your roof, remember that the paper or plastic facing must face downward toward the heated attic space. If the facing is positioned upward instead, your batt insulation will be a potential reservoir for moisture, which can damage your roof or walls in the long run.

Insulation products with radiant barriers, on the other hand, are made of materials that reflect direct radiant heat from the sun instead of letting it through. These insulation solutions are especially useful during summer, as they help reduce heat gain from sunlight and improve the overall comfort of your attic.

Poor Ventilation

Another problem that might be causing your attic to build up heat is poor ventilation. While many people would not consider attics to be a living space, it’s still important to keep it well-ventilated to prevent the heat from getting trapped in your house. This includes ensuring a good and constant airflow in and out of the attic.

There are a number of ways by which you can provide better ventilation for your attic. Windows are a great option. Not only do they keep your attic cool, but they can also level up the look of your space and provide natural lighting. Your windows should be large enough to bring in enough air.

Another good add-on to enhance your attic ventilation would be vents. There are many varieties of vents that can help keep your attic cool, one of which is called exhaust vents. These are vents that are typically attached on the rooftop and come in three different models: ridge, static, and powered exhaust vents. They help remove excess heat (and even moisture) from your attic to make the air inside it cooler and more breathable.

Another kind of vent is the intake vent, also called the soffit vent, which is usually placed at the underside of the roof of your attic and is covered with a metal screen. These vents are designed to push out hot air trapped inside your attic as well as pull in cool air from outside. Most intake vents are small, which is why they are commonly missed during cleaning and maintenance. As a consequence, they can accumulate dust overtime, which impacts their performance. If you’re looking to add intake vents to your attic, make sure their size is proportionate to the size of your attic. This way, intake vents can greatly enhance the ventilation and breathability of your space.

Mechanical fans can also help improve passive ventilation in your attic. These fans are usually used to exhaust hot air out of rooms and exchange it with cool, outside air. If you’re planning to add mechanical fans in your attic, it’s important to remember to also have adequate incoming air vents around your roof to avoid creating negative pressure inside the attic. If this happens, the conditioned air will only just flow back out of your room.

Hot attics are one of the most common problems experienced by homeowners. There are several reasons as to why temperatures inside attics can reach scorching hot levels, but the main culprits are usually poor insulation and poor ventilation. If you’re looking to improve the level of comfort within your attic,  consider improving on these two important aspects of home design.

partnered post • cc-licensed photo by Lynn Friedman