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Ventilation, insulation and snow removal key for roofs

Ventilation, insulation and snow removal key for roofs

Ice dams have been a common issue for many in Northern Michigan this winter with the large amount of snowfall coupled with cold and warm days.

If you haven’t made an attempt to clear large amounts of snow off your home’s roof yet this winter, now is the time to do so, said Jim Bonter of Eby Roofing of Alanson.

“The biggest thing and most important thing is to keep it cleaned off,” Bonter said. “(Eby Roofing owner) Lamar (Eby) has had his cleaned off twice already this winter.

“It helps with ice dams and prevents collapses,” Bonter added. “That’s (collapse) what happens when you run into conditions where you get this much snow, then it begins to warm up or, in this winter’s case, where we’ve gotten rain where it can really weigh things down.”

Mother Nature has been difficult to many in the roofing industry this winter, as Bonter said with the cold and snow multiple projects have had to be placed on hold.

“It’s delayed us putting up trusses on jobs and yesterday (Wednesday) we had five phone calls with people’s roofs that’ve caved in or have had ice damage,” Bonter said. “Ice dam issues have happened quite a bit lately.”

As far as getting rid of icing issues, ventilation and insulation are both important aspects to a home’s roof, Bonter said.

“Ventilation is the biggest thing,” Bonter said. “Insulation is always a good thing, but you have to have that ventilation as well.”

Vents for roofs — either ridge vents or turbine vents — help keep your home cooler, prevent moisture problems and generally encourage healthy airflow. Typically, a home’s roof does not work well without them.

A ridge vent, as the name indicates, is located at the ridges where a roof peaks, and runs along the top of those ridges. The vent is shaped around the ridge and covered with matching siding or tile so that it is very unobtrusive. They typically look like a running cap or piece of extra roof trim.

“We use ridge vents a lot of time when we can,” Bonter said. “They even make vents that look like turtle vents.”

Ridge vents come with several advantages, including that when installed correctly they can provide a high volume of airflow per square foot, since the entire ridge may act as a vent instead of just one or two locations across the roof.

However, when comparing the ridge vent versus a turbine vent (also known as a whirlybird), ridge vents need to be accurately installed to work properly. Weather guards and wind baffles must be used to ensure that moisture cannot leak back into the ridge, and to create important low-pressure areas necessary to help hot air escape.

For especially steep roofs, full ridgewwe vents may not provide enough airflow.

Roof turbines, which look like round knobs poking up out of the roof, are a type of roof vent that may also provide a valuable ventilation service.

Powered by the wind, it houses a circular fan that’s sensitive to breezes and when the wind blows it turns the fan, which in turn draws up air from the attic and disperses it.

An advantage to a roof turbine in the winter is since turbines are attached directly to attic spaces, they can siphon away moist air effectively when homes are filled with rising warm air that needs to be dispersed.

Roof turbines also do not need an energy source to run — other than just a little bit of wind which is usually present on rooftops even during relatively calm days.

However, roof turbines can age rapidly when exposed to frequent storms or attic moisture.

“We don’t use a ton of them anymore, but we do in certain cases,” Bonter said. “Depending on how much snow you have up on a roof, it could freeze up where it won’t even operate where it’s important in the winter.”

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