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Simple Steps for Making Loft Condensation Disappear
When warm air rises in your home, it travels up from your living area to form condensation in your loft or attic. This causes mold, mildew, rot and other unseemly decay. There are some things you can do to reduce this moisture accumulation.
First, assess the situation. Check around light fixtures and ceiling fans to make sure they are properly sealed and free of cracks that allow excess air to enter your loft. Seal any openings with spackle or drywall patch. If exhaust fans from the bathroom or the clothes dryer vent into the loft, they should be rerouted if possible. Setting up a dehumidifier in the loft is another option.
Next, make sure your loft floor is properly insulated to prevent additional warm air from entering your loft. You can use either loose fill or batt insulation. To determine the proper thickness of the insulation, decide on your ideal R-value. The R-value is a measure of thermal performance. Depending on where you live, your R-value should fall between R-38 and R-49. Different materials have different R-values per inch, so for instance, fiberglass will need to be thicker than cellulose. For most materials, the insulation should be somewhere between ten to twenty-five inches thick. If you are using loose fill, keep in mind that it will settle over time, so you should add extra material to allow for settling.
It is very important to set up a proper system of air circulation in the loft itself. You need to create air movement in the loft to push the moisture out. The best way to achieve this is through the use of vents. While any ventilation system is better than none, certain types of vents work better than others to prevent condensation. Your loft needs a vent for the air going out, an exhaust vent, and another for the air being pulled in, an intake vent. The best choice for an exhaust vent is either a ridge vent or a turbine, both of which are attached to the top of the roof. Either one should be used in combination with an intake vent, preferably a soffit vent. Soffit, or eaves, vents are located in an ideal spot: underneath the soffits at the very bottom of your loft. When air is pulled in these vents, it is circulated throughout the entire loft, drying the wood and exiting through the roof. On the other hand, gable vents are located near the top of the roof, so air pulled into them will only circulate through the top part of the loft, leaving the bottom air stagnant. You should never use two exhaust vents, such as a ridge vent and a ceiling fan. The stronger exhaust vent will pull air from the weaker one, turning it into an intake vent, and air will no longer be pulled from the soffit vents. It is recommended that you have at least 1 square foot of ventilation per 300 square feet of loft space. However, for optimal results, 1 square foot of venting per 150 square feet of space is best.
Remember to clean dust and debris from soffit vents periodically. Also check to make sure that insulation is not blocking the vents. If necessary, you can purchase a vent baffle, which keeps insulation away from vents.