At­tics serve pur­pose, so take care of them

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - MIKE HOLMES

I’M get­ting lots of emails from read­ers lately about roofs and at­tics. These two re­ally caught my eye be­cause they show me the lack of un­der­stand­ing home­own­ers have about at­tics and the im­por­tant role they play in your house’s sys­tem.

Sheila wrote to say they just bought a 75-year-old home with a new roof. But the roof has no vents. Their home in­spec­tor re­ported there was no at­tic ac­cess and be­lieved they don’t even have an at­tic. She asks if there’s any con­cern about hav­ing no vents, and won­ders if there’s no at­tic, then do they have any in­su­la­tion.

If you have a flat roof, then pos­si­bly there isn’t an at­tic — there may be just an air space. But, let’s be log­i­cal: if your roof has a peak, and your in­te­rior ceil­ings are flat, there’s got to be an at­tic.

When the house was con­structed, there was likely an at­tic ac­cess some­where. That might still ex­ist — hid­den in a closet, for ex­am­ple — or it might have been cov­ered over by a ren­o­va­tion. If you have looked ev­ery­where and can’t find an at­tic ac­cess, I’d bet it was cov­ered over. It is a code re­quire­ment to have at­tic ac­cess. You should cre­ate one in an un­ob­tru­sive spot. That’s the only way to prop­erly check out your at­tic as you will see the con­di­tion of the roof sheath­ing and the amount of in­su­la­tion.

Whether there is in­su­la­tion in there is a good ques­tion, and you should def­i­nitely in­ves­ti­gate.

An older home might have very lit­tle in­su­la­tion, if any at all, so you should have some added.

It’s very im­por­tant to have an at­tic vented. Even the air space above a flat roof needs to be vented. At­tics need to be able to breathe, and should re­main the same tem­per­a­ture as the out­side air.

If your at­tic isn’t well-ven­ti­lated, any mois­ture or wa­ter vapour that is present in the space will lead to prob­lems in time.

In fact, at­tics must be prop­erly ven­ti­lated in or­der to com­ply with terms of man­u­fac­turer’s war­ranties on as­phalt shin­gles.

Roof vents aren’t the only way to vent your at­tic space. Your home might have gable vents or sof­fit vents, ei­ther of which would do the job. There are many dif­fer­ent types of roof vents on the mar­ket — check with your roofer for op­tions that work with your roof style.

Ann from Al­bany wrote in to say her hus­band would like to close off all the air vents in their at­tic and make it a con­di­tioned space, us­ing spray foam in­su­la­tion. He also wants to re­move the col­lar ties be­cause he hits his head when he goes up there.

My first ques­tion is why? Do you want to cre­ate a new room up there — ef­fec­tively an­other floor on your house? Or do you want a cathe­dral ceil­ing in your up­stairs bed­room? Both are big projects with se­ri­ous chal­lenges and may not be al­lowed by your lo­cal build­ing author­ity.

An ex­ist­ing at­tic isn’t de­signed to be a room you can use be­cause there’s not enough head­room to stand up. How would you get up into the space — a lad­der? Are you propos­ing to build stairs? Bet­ter make sure you’ve got head­room be­cause that’s a code vi­o­la­tion. And if you are cut­ting struc­ture, you’d bet­ter have pro­fes­sional de­sign help and get a build­ing per­mit. I’ve seen too many at­tic ren­o­va­tions go side­ways.

Col­lar ties are there for a struc­tural rea­son — they hold the rafters to­gether and strengthen your roof. They aren’t op­tional, even if you do hit your head.

You also need to be very care­ful about us­ing spray foam in­su­la­tion on the un­der­side of the roof sheath­ing — you may have to dou­ble strap the roof to al­low for breath­ing. In many ar­eas, an un­ven­ti­lated at­tic space is not le­gal. You have to con­sult a pro­fes­sional and check with your lo­cal build­ing author­ity on what is per­mit­ted in your area.

Ann’s at­tic sounds like a stan­dard space, built to min­i­mum code with R-19 fi­bre­glass batt in­su­la­tion be­tween the joists, a ridge vent on the roof and eave vents at the ends. It’s a great idea to im­prove the in­su­la­tion in the space and def­i­nitely add to it.

My ad­vice is to leave the at­tic an un­con­di­tioned space and do not close off the vents. Your at­tic serves the pur­pose it was built for and I’d sug­gest you leave it alone.

— Canwest News Ser­vice

If your roof has a peak and your in­te­rior ceil­ings are

flat, there’s got to be an at­tic.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.