Every summer homeowners face the same dilemma of trying to keep their homes cool without breaking the bank on their energy bills, with the average energy bill totaling about $137 a month.

What many homeowners don’t know is that their attics can be a big culprit to wasting energy.

Heat often collects in the attic from the roof and radiates into the lower living spaces. This forces homeowners to crank up the AC, raising energy bills. So what can you do?

Luckily, there are several ways homeowners can cool their attics and make their homes more energy-efficient. Through air sealing, insulation, or ventilation, you can finally cool your attic the right way.

Air Sealing

One of the easiest and best ways to help cool down a hot attic is with proper air sealing. This is particularly effective when used in tandem with insulation and other strategies.

What is Air Sealing?

Air sealing is the process of finding and closing air leakage points in and around your home. In your attic, this is usually your walls, floors, entrances, and spots in between ventilation units. These pockets of air leakage can be big or small, accounting for over 40% of all energy lost in your home.

How Air Sealing Cools Your Attic

How Air Sealing Cools Your Attic

By properly air sealing your attic, you’ll prevent cool air generated by your AC units from escaping to your attic. It’ll also prevent heat and warm air in the attic from radiating down into the lower levels.

It also prevents the formation of ice dams on your roofs in the winter. This is relevant in the summer because ice dams can cause moisture buildup which damages your attic insulation. If your insulation is weak or insufficient, your attic will allow more heat to transfer into your home in the hot summer months.

How to Air Seal Your Attic

Before You Start

If you can, obtain or create a sketch of your attic. This will help you pinpoint areas of air leakage. Pay close attention to areas like dropped soffits over kitchen cabinets, slanted ceilings over stairways, areas where the walls and ceilings meet, and other dropped-ceiling areas.

See where your attic is leaking air. Schedule a free attic inspection.

Wiring holes, gaps near plumbing and pipes, and recessed lights are also common areas for attic air leakage. Write these spots down and make sure you have the right equipment to seal them.

Alternatively, we recommend getting a professional attic inspection complete by a licensed contractor. This will provide you with detailed insights, including thermal images of your attic. Use an attic inspector’s experience and professional equipment to pinpoint the exact spots where unwanted heat transfer is taking place.

Air Sealing the Attic

Start by filling in the big holes. You can do this by wrapping insulation in plastic bags and plugging areas like open stud cavities, making sure it fits tightly.

For dropped soffits, remove the insulation and add a piece of reflective foil or rigid foam board that’s a few inches longer than the opening. Seal it in place using caulk or other adhesives.

For pipes that have small air pockets, use caulk or foam to fill the space around them. Make sure you seal the attic hatch as well with new wood stops and adhesive foam weather strips.

Attic Insulation

Attic Insulation

Insulation is usually the most common method of cooling down your attic and preventing the heat from transferring downstairs. It both prevents heat from radiating downwards while simultaneously keeping cool air from escaping to the attic.

What is Attic Insulation?

Attic insulation creates barriers between the roof and your attic, as well as the attic floor to the rest of the home. It comes in a variety of materials, including fiberglass, cellulose, and even reflective surfaces similar to foil.

How Insulation Cools Your Attic

Insulation keeps the sun’s heat from radiating into the lower floors, meaning your home will be noticeably cooler. This means your AC won’t have to work quite as hard to maintain a cool internal temperature.

Insulation also prevents cool air from downstairs from escaping into the stuffy attic since it reduces the movement of air. Overall, the EPA estimates that you can save over 15% on your annual energy bills just by adding insulation to your attics and other areas.

How to Apply Attic Insulation

Before You Start

Always check your local building code recommended R-values, or your insulation’s ability to reduce conductive heat flow. It’s also recommended that you seal any air holes prior to installing insulation.

Take note of areas in your attic with plumbing, ductwork, and wiring. For your own safety, make sure there aren’t any cracks in your attic’s foundation.

If you’re applying rolled-up batts or reflective insulation, make all the necessary measurements so your insulation fits properly. Purchase safety goggles and masks, since materials like fiberglass can be dangerous to your lungs and eyes.

Insulating an Attic

If you’re using batt or roll insulation, target areas like your skylights and cut out the necessary amount of insulation. You can secure it between the framings with staples and house wrap.

Get an attic insulation estimate. Schedule a free attic inspection.

Make sure not to compress the insulation, or else it’ll become less effective. Whether it’s the stud walls or the joists, make sure you gently fit the insulation without leaving any gaps.

If you’re using blown-in insulation, plug in the machine and feed half a bag of insulation into it. Turn the machine on and fill any areas that need insulation. Be careful not to spray the loose fill in the rafter vents.

Reflective insulation requires you to measure out the surface area of the places you’re covering and stapling the material to the wood.

Attic Ventilation

Ventilation allows your home to breathe. In the attic, it pulls fresh air through it and lets the heat escape on a regular basis. Let’s explore how attic ventilation works to cool down your home.

What is Attic Ventilation?

A balanced ventilation system occurs when the amount of air coming into the attic equals the amount leaving it. The cooler air from the intake vents pushes the warm air up and out through the exhaust vents near the ridge.

Without proper intake ventilation, the exhaust vents don’t work and the heat doesn’t have a way to escape. This can cause permanent damage to your roof, which as we discussed, can damage your attic insulation and affect your home temperature.

How Attic Ventilation Cools Your Home

How Attic Ventilation Cools Your Home

In the summer, an improperly vented attic can generate a lot of heat through hot outside air having nowhere to go. This means your upstairs rooms will be uncomfortably hot until the sun goes down.

As such, poor ventilation causes hotter attics. This means hotter upstairs rooms and more stress on your AC units. By installing proper ventilation and letting the air circulate in and out of your attic, less heat will be trapped in the attic.

How to Ventilate Your Attic

Before You Start

First, look for signs of poor ventilation by either looking at your home yourself or calling a contractor. These signs include:

  • Curling shingles
  • Roof damage
  • Excessive attic heat
  • High summer energy bills
  • Rust on metal components in the attic

Keep in mind that every attic has different ventilation needs. Calculate the right amount of ventilation for your attic beforehand. There are a few different equations you can use to determine this number.

Ventilating an Attic

Generally speaking, installing attic ventilation isn’t a DIY project. You should call a trusted professional to install the different types of attic ventilation common in most homes.

Get a quote for a solar attic fan. Schedule a free attic inspection.

There are several different types of attic ventilation that you can use to improve the air circulation in your attic. These include turbine vents that can remove over 300 cubic feet of air a minute.

Active, power vents are smaller vents that can pull hot air out of the attic using electricity or solar power. Passive vents, such as box vents or ridge vents, can use natural winds and convection to move air through your attic.

Lower Your Energy Bills With Cooler Attics

Your attic is a literal hotspot for summer heat, but that doesn’t mean you have to break the bank trying to pay your energy bills. Leverage the three different strategies in this article to create a much more energy-efficient attic today.

Attics are arguably the most susceptible areas to mold because of roof leaks, poor air sealing, and ventilation issues.

However, getting rid of attic mold, especially when it grows on plywood, is a tricky endeavor that most homeowners aren’t equipped to handle themselves. Attic mold can impact indoor air quality and your family’s health, making its removal a top priority.

In this article, we’ll be outlining everything you need to know about removing mold from your attic plywood and how to go about it safely and efficiently. Let’s dive in.

Signs of Attic Mold

Signs of Attic Mold

Routinely checking your attic for signs of mold will allow you to identify any problems and avoid panic scenarios. With that said, you’ll still need to know exactly what signs to look for.

Dark Staining

If your attic plywood has dark stains or black discolorations where it’s clear that the problem has moved beyond just moisture, it’s probably mold.

Hot and Stuffy Attic

Ideally, your attic should be cool and well-ventilated. If it’s starting to feel stuffy and hot, that’s a sign of poor ventilation, which frequently causes mold.

Frost Buildup on Roof Sheathing

During the winter, improper ventilation can cause water vapor underneath your roof to freeze. In time, this frost buildup will cause mold.

The Smell of Mildew

If you’ve got a sharp nose, you’ll likely be able to smell musty or moldy surfaces in your attic. Trust your instincts and spot these out.

Wet Insulation

If your attic insulation is getting damp, it’s a surefire sign that your attic is far too moist and mold might already exist. It also damages the insulation, increasing the chance of mold in the future.

What Causes Attic Mold?

What Causes Attic Mold

Generally speaking, if you have a mold problem, you most likely have a moisture problem. If your attic plywood is accruing mold, you first need to address the moisture in your attic first.

This issue is often caused by poor ventilation, air leakages, and roof leaks.

Blocked Ventilation

Attics usually have a passive ventilation system that lets outside air come through soffit vents then leaves through the can or ridge vents on the top of the roof.

However, if one of these mechanisms becomes blocked, it disrupts the entire system. Warm air stagnates in the attic, then condenses with the cold wood sheathings in the attic. This creates moisture, leading to mold.

Air Leaks

In leaky homes, the air that’s driven by exhaust fans or the wind can blow through ceilings and attic floors. Because this air often contains water vapor, large scale air leaks can cause condensation, which leads to mold on your attic plywood.

Roof Leaks

Roof leaks will cause mold to form in specific areas of your attic. Check for any wood discoloration and roof valleys. Chimneys, vents, or anywhere else in which dissimilar materials join together are where roof leaks typically occur.

How to Remove Mold from Attic Plywood

How to Remove Mold from Attic Plywood

Removing mold from your attic plywood is not a simple weekend DIY job. Although you can certainly do it yourself if you’re willing to put in the manhours and purchase the equipment, we recommend contacting professionals to do it unless it’s only a few pieces of plywood that have mold.

For Small Removal Projects – Use a Wet Vacuum

If you have mold on your attic plywood in small areas, you can remove it yourself so long as it’s collecting in a small area (up to 10 square feet).

Mold Removal Safety Precautions

If you have to remove mold concentrations or perform any black mold removal covering more than a few square feet, we recommend you take these precautions:

  • Wear old clothes and shoes that you can launder or throw away after the cleanup work.
  • Wear special N-95 or P-100 respirators, in addition to goggles and gloves.
  • Set an old box fan or a cheap new one in a window to ventilate the room while working.
  • Wrap and tape moldy contaminants in 6-mm plastic, and double-bag mold-infested debris in garbage bags for disposal.
  • To control airborne spores, moisten moldy areas with a garden sprayer while you work.

You can get rid of mold-contaminated wooden surfaces using a wet vacuum that can fill its tank partially with water to control mold residue. Wipe the surface with a damp sponge or cloth that’s been treated with clean water or wood cleaner.

Once the surfaces have been thoroughly dried, use a HEPA vacuum cleaner on the plywood and safely dispose of all the contents by putting them in well-sealed plastic bags. Any contaminated material, including mold-infested insulation, should be sealed in plastic and disposed of as regular waste.

If you have attic mold in multiple areas and it exceeds 10 square feet, we recommend that you contact a mold remediation company to take a look at your attic and decide the best course of action.

For Larger Removal Projects – Hire a Professional Mold Remediation Company

It goes without saying that attic mold removal is no walk in the park for any homeowner. Not only does the possibility of falling through the attic floor make it an extremely dangerous undertaking, but you’ll also need to purchase plenty of expensive equipment to pull it off.

Attic mold removal is therefore borderline impractical for homeowners, even those with plenty of DIY experience because of the dangers it presents. Even if you manage to do it safely, there’s no guarantee that you covered all the bases given all the variables.

Because mold presents serious health concerns while also damaging your home’s overall energy efficiency, we believe this is a job you shouldn’t have to gamble on. If you hire a professional, you can give you and your family peace of mind knowing that the mold was assessed correctly and removed from your attic plywood using the right methods.

How to Prevent Attic Mold

How to Prevent Attic Mold

Once you’ve removed mold from your attic, you’ll still need to take care of the root cause if you want to keep it out of your home. In this section, we’ll be exploring how to properly air seal and ventilate your attic to keep it cool and dry.

Air Seal

When air sealing your attic, it’s best to cover up the big holes before caulking smaller spots.

You can fill large gaps by placing a 16-inch piece of fiberglass insulation and place it in a 13-gallon plastic bag. Fold the bag once and place it in an open stud cavity. To find the cavity, you’ll need to dig through some insulation in your attic floor.

Need help indentifying air leaks in your attic? Schedule a free attic inspection.

Once you’ve filled the cavities with the insulation bag, place foil insulation over top. Cover it back with the insulation you removed earlier.

Plumbing pipes and small openings for wires are tiny areas that still leak plenty of air in your attic. Seal these holes stuffing small pieces of fiberglass insulation and cover them with expanding foam insulation. Electrical junction boxes can leak air as well, which you can easily plug with caulk.

Add Ventilation

Another major step to prevent mold growth in your attic is to make sure you have enough ventilation. Passive ventilation methods helps prevent humid air from getting trapped in your attic and wreaking havoc with mold growth.

With that being said, passive ventilation systems may not be enough. Homeowners should consider adding active ventilation, such as a solar attic fan, to provide continuous airflow. This will help remove hot humid air that enters your attic throughout the year.

Summary

Removing mold from your attic plywood is a step towards a cleaner, safer, and more energy-efficient home. When dealing with serious mold problems, bring in a professional indoor air quality (IAQ) consultant or mold remediation contractors. Don’t leave it to chance.

And remember — after removal, be sure to get to the source of the problem. Schedule an attic inspection and learn how to make your attic more healthy and energy-efficient.

Every summer feels like it’s hotter than the last. Homeowners are constantly trying to find a balance between keeping their house cool while saving money on energy bills.

What many don’t realize is that one of the most prominent sources of stifling indoor heat is the attic. Hot air often collects in the uppermost area and transfers much of that heat to the bottom floors.

How do you combat this recurring problem? How do you remove hot air from your attic?

Those are the questions we’re going to answer today. In this article, we’ll go over just how hot air congregates in your attic, and outline ways to not only get rid of it but keep it out of your home for good.

Get a free attic inspection and quote to ventilate your attic.

Those are the questions we’re going to answer today. In this article, we’ll go over just how hot air congregates in your attic, and outline ways to not only get rid of it but keep it out of your home for good.

Why do attics get so hot?

The laws of thermodynamics dictate that heat naturally rises. That means your attic is the last stop for hot or warm air in your house. Not only that, your attic rests right under your roof. On hot summer days, the heat is going to radiate through the shingles and collect in your attic, creating hot air.

The biggest reason why hot air fills up in your attic is due to poor ventilation. It doesn’t matter if your house is old, new, newly renovated, or has remained untouched for a decade – chances are your attic ventilation needs some work.

One way to know if this might be the case is by going to your attic or rooftops and checking the size of your vents. Because vents are specifically for exhaust, they need to be appropriately sized relative to your attic. That is if you have a large attic, a couple of vents 6 inches wide probably aren’t going to do the trick.

Exhaust vents, however, don’t tell the entire story. Soffit vents, or intake vents that are placed underneath your roof, are responsible for pushing hot air out of your home while simultaneously bringing in cool air. While many homeowners aren’t even aware of its existence, they need proper maintenance to keep hot air out of your attic.

A lack of proper insulation and poor air sealing also contributes to why attics get so hot. Many assume that too much insulation means hot air will remain trapped in their attics. It’s important to note that attic insulation is an integral part of keeping your attic temperatures stable. If you don’t have proper insulation, you’ll have a hard time keeping your attic heat from seeping into the rest of your home.

Different methods for removing hot air from your attic

Removing hot air from your attic involves two different methods. One is a more active approach where you install electric ventilators and fans to remove hot air once it reaches a certain temperature. Another more passive approach involves installing vents and other openings that allow warm air to naturally escape.

Passive ventilation

Installing more vents and exhausts in your attic and roof is a good way of allowing hot air to circulate in and out of your attic naturally. While most housing code specifies the minimal amount of vent opening depending on your attic’s square footage, it’s never a bad idea to add more. Increasing the number of soffit vents and roof exhaust will allow hot air to pass through the attic without costing you any money from having to power a fan.

Active ventilation

If you do choose to install an active attic ventilation system like a solar attic fan to exhaust hot air, make sure you have enough incoming vents to accommodate the extra airflow. By pushing stuffy air out, you let cooler and fresher outside air in and improve the overall ventilation in your attic.

How to remove hot air from your attic

Regardless of which method you choose, it’s important to know exactly what you’re doing when installing ventilation equipment in your attic. Here, we’ll outline what you’ll need for both passive and active ventilation installation, and how to install them.

Note: the below methods should be complete by a professional. Looking to cool your home? Get a free attic inspection and quote to properly ventilate your attic.

Add passive ventilation

When installing new vents in your attic and roof, you’re going to need a few important things before you start.

First, you need either your exhaust vent or soffit vent, as well as a ventilation baffle. Make sure you have a chalk reel or something to mark your roof with. You’ll also need a circular saw and reciprocating saw, as well as a sheathing knife. Some roof cement, a cordless drill, and a thin pry bar are also needed.

Install an exhaust vent

To install an exhaust vent, you first need to mark the vent location from inside your attic using nails. Then go to your roof, find the location that you marked with the nails, and measure your vent opening.

Cut out an appropriate opening in your roof shingle about ½ inch wider than the vent itself. Then, cut a hole in your roof sheathing with a jigsaw or reciprocating saw.

Remove any obstructions that might prevent the vent from sliding into place. Place the vent squarely into place and nail the lower edge with roofing nails.

Apply the roof cement where the shingles meet the vent and you’re done.

Install a soffit vent

Start by making two parallel lines down the center of the soffit using chalk, each one about 2 inches apart from the other. Cut a hole inside the soffit and measure the thickness of the panel.

Set your circular saw to that thickness and cut down the two parallel lines. Use your pry bar to connect the two parallel cuts and remove the soffit strip.

Then, set your strip vent down on a flat wood surface and screw holes through the flanges. Raise the vent up to the soffit and center it over the cutout slot. Use your cordless drill to secure the vent to the soffit using metal screws.

You’re not done yet though. Go back into the attic and remove any insulation above where the new soffit vents are. This will make sure nothing is blocking the vents and air can properly go through.

Finally, staple your ventilation baffle to the plywood sheathing in each rafter bay. This will ensure the airway remains open for your new soffit vent.

Add an attic fan

When installing a power vent, make sure all the factory-installed bolts are tightened and either mount it as close to the center of the house or near the roof ridge.

Measure the distance from the ridge and the edge of the roof to where you want your vent to go.

Bonus Tip: If you’re looking to add an attic fan to your home, consider going solar.

Transfer these dimensions to the attic’s interior. Measure an equal distance between the rafters at the selected location and mark the point. Drill a nail hole through the roof on the mark.

Cut out the circle template on the box and place it on the roof using the drilled hole as the center. Trace around the template and cut through the shingles and decking with a jigsaw.

Remove the vent’s dome.

Center the fan over the hole, making sure the upside of the base flange is pointed toward the ridge under the shingles.

Use caulk or roofing mastic to seal between the roof and fan. With a utility knife, cut the shingles at the top of the fan to accept the fan’s throat.

How to keep an attic cool

Homeowners can certainly reduce the amount of hot air in their attic by installing ventilation systems. They can also take certain steps to prevent hot air from entering their attic, as well as keeping any heat out of their homes as much as possible.

Proper air sealing

Identifying areas where air might be escaping into it can prevent unwanted warmth from entering your attic. Plumbing pipes and small openings for wires can be sealed with small pieces of fiberglass insulation or through expanding foam. You can also plug leaky areas with caulk.

Insulation

While some claim that insulation exacerbates heat gain in attics, as we mentioned before, it’s an effective mechanism to keep warm air out of the rest of your home while regulating the temperature inside the attic.

However, certain types of insulation, such as reflective insulation, are effective at keeping heat out of your home altogether. Reflective insulation does what its name suggests – it reflects incoming heat from the sun that’s radiating through your roof back where it came from.

By installing reflective insulation around your attic ceilings and walls, you effectively block much of the hot air coming into your attic. This is extremely effective during the summer, and if coupled with proper ventilation, can keep your attic exponentially cooler.

Get the hot air out of your attic today

A hot and stuffy attic is an often overlooked yet crucial factor when it comes to home energy efficiency. By keeping your attic’s ventilation flowing properly and taking preventative measures, you can keep hot air out of your attic. Leverage this article to find the best solution for your home and shave some money off of your energy bills today.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get hot air out of my attic?

The best way to get hot air out of your attic is to add attic ventilation. If you already have existing passive attic vents installed on your roof, then you should consider installing a powered exhaust vent, preferably solar.

Does a hot attic make a house hot?

There are many things that can contribute to making your house hot. A hot attic can definitely be one of the culprits. Hot air that sits in an attic can radiate down into cooler living environments if there is not enough insulation, or if the attic is not properly air sealed.

What is the ideal attic temperature?

Ideally, you want to keep your attic temperature within 10-20 degrees of the outside temperature. If the attic gets too hot in the winter, it can cause issues like mold and ice damming. In the summer, an excessively hot attic can cause high utility bills and can damage your roof.

Is a hot attic dangerous?

In the summer, attics can reach temperatures of 140 degrees and higher. This type of heat build-up can be dangerous because it can damage your roof and any items you have stored in the attic. Excessive heat can also be dangerous if you have things electrical wiring running through your attic.