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Moldy attic? More likely than you think

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

By Jason Earle Google+

This is the time of year for moldy attics. It may not be festive, but it’s reliable. Most people think of attics as inherently dry spaces, unlike basements, and assume they’re impervious to mold problems due to the lack of moisture. Most people are wrong about that.

Whether it’s used as storage with a staircase and a door leading to it, or is merely the space between roof and ceiling, filled with trusses, and accessible only via a trap door in a closet, an attic is a critical part of a home’s respiratory system. This means that ventilation – correct ventilation – is essential to the attic’s health.

We recently published a comprehensive article on this subject in our seasonal magazine, Habitat Quarterly. Here’s a clipping of it:

As we all remember from eighth-grade science class, warm air rises in a building. In a case where there’s a lot of moisture in that warm air, when it finds its way into a cold attic, the water in the air will bead up on the cold interior surfaces of the roof like it would on a glass of iced tea on a hot summer day. During really cold periods, this condensation will actually freeze, making some attics an unintended winter wonderland.

In such circumstances, the exposed nails will transform into icicles overnight, and when the sun comes up, the roof warms, melting the icicles, causing it to drip rusty water droplets onto the floor. This cycle of moisture accumulation on the dusty wooden surfaces of the attic is enough to create an environment conducive to mold growth. Sometimes this takes decades, sometimes only one season. Depending upon how severe the problem is, the damage can range from some minor surface mold, which can be easily cleaned, to complete rot and degradation of the sheathing, requiring a new roof to be installed. Not fun.

The story gets a lot more exciting from there. To read the rest of the article,  you can jump over to our repost here on 1800gotmold.com.

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