Here in Florida, more than cool air escapes out of your attic right through your roof. Dollars escape out there too. That’s especially true if your house is not insulated correctly. But insulation is not enough. It needs to be ventilated properly as well.

Statistics show that 85 percent of a house’s coolness loss is straight up through the attic space. That’s here in Florida. In other parts of the country, the statistic is the same but instead of cool air escaping through the attic, it’s hot air.

In the Sunshine State, insulation is required by code. But, even with proper insulation, you may still be facing problems.

“While Insulation of R30 to R38 has been required by code in Florida since the 1990s, it’s also plain common sense,” said Jim Bertie, owner of Bertie Heating and Air. “Florida is one of only five states that requires insulation in its code. The building code here includes A/C and duct work as well. But it doesn’t say anything about ventilation.”

And that’s a big problem, according to Bertie.

“If not done right, improper ventilation can destroy a home,” he said. “You have to let an attic breathe. If they don’t breathe it’s like leaving water in the home. It’s sick all the time. Even if you have all the insulation you want, you’re wasting money and time.”

The money part comes in the form of higher utility bills because your A/C must work that much harder to keep your home cool.

On top of that, you’re creating humidity, and that’s creating mold. If the humidity in your home is 60 percent or higher, you are creating mold. So, in addition to higher utility bills, you may very well be looking at health issues for your family.

Chris Livingston, of Perry Roofing, says he sees it all the time.

“Your attic needs to be properly ventilated, so the heat and moisture can escape,” he said. “It’s simple. The lower the attic temperature and moisture.”

And very likely, the lower the utility bill.

Livingston refers to it as a convection cycle – hot air leaves through the ridges and cooler air enters through the soffits.

“Another benefit of proper ventilation is that the shingles on your roof will last longer,” he said. “So proper ventilation will at least make sure that the shingles last to their full life expectancy and not fail prematurely. Plus, if your attic is not properly ventilated, it could void the warranty on your roof.”

If it’s time to replace a roof, Livingston suggests you consider a stone-coated steel roof. Today’s metal roofs can look just like a shingle roof, but there’s an additional benefit. On our Florida hot days, your shingles get just as hot. That keeps the heat in the attic. But metal roofs are actually cooler in the evening, and that lowers energy costs.

But Livingston offers one word of caution.

“If you are going to change to a metal roof, or install any other roof system, make sure the old roof is removed,” he said. “Removing the current layer of roof material is the only way to make sure that any and all damaged wood is found and corrected prior to the new roof being installed.”

So how do you know where you stand in terms of insulation and ventilation in your attic, and the humidity in your home? The first step would be an attic inspection. Depending on what you find, you must measure the health of your family and home and the cost savings in your utility bill against the cost of any renovation work.

But it makes sense. If you drop the temperature in your attic and remove some of the moisture, your A/C runs more efficiently, and you have a healthier home.

Our next topic will address how your air conditioning can improve the quality of the air in your home. But before we do, we will describe a new way of performing and pricing inspections. The Smart Way System™, unique to Informed Inspection, Inc., reduces overall inspection costs and reduces inspection surprises that often sink real estate transactions. Whether you are a seller or a buyer you will want to be informed about the Smart Way System™ by Informed Inspection, Inc.  

Till our next edition, Rick.