Is Your Attic Insulation Blocking Your Soffit Vents?

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The average attic in our region of the country is a vented attic. In fact, it’s by far the most common type of construction for single family homes in the southeastern United States, and has been for almost 100 years.
What does it mean to say that I have a vented attic?

Well, it’s exactly what you’re saying!

What is a Vented Attic?

Vented attics are designed for the atmosphere to pass into and out of the attic space. These attics are designed to have free circulation of air between the atmosphere and the attic space.

Ventilation designs involve a combination of some of the following:

  • Ridge Vents
  • Soffit Vents
  • Gable Vents
  • Powered Roof Vents
  • Solar Powered Roof Vents
  • Passive Roof Vents, such as turbines, etc.

A vented attic means it’s not sealed against the outside atmosphere.

These attics are usually designed to introduce fresh air from the soffit vents. As that air enters the warm attic, it rises and flows upward along the roof deck, ascending to the higher elevation of the roof line.

Soffit vents are typically located at the lowest elevation of the roof line. You can find soffit vents in the eaves by walking around outside your home, and looking for a continuous vent or smaller individual vents in the underside of the eaves that extend over the outside walls of the house.

Are Clogged Soffit Vents a Big Deal?

Because the ventilation enters your attic from the lowest elevation, the soffit vents are a key part of your attic ventilation system working efficiently.

When insulation is clogging up the vents, the air isn’t entering the attic nearly as well as it should be.

How does insulation get piled up on top of your soffit vents?

  • Rodents love to “rearrange” your attic insulation and drag it over your vents for nesting material.
  • Wind shear will easily rearrange low-density fiberglass insulation, but I rarely see where it gets piled up over a soffit vent. It’s usually the opposite effect, blowing the insulation back from the soffits sometimes 2’!
  • The installer can accidentally blow the insulation over the vents. This is especially true for areas behind vaulted ceilings, tray ceilings, and behind HVAC equipment or air ducts.
  • Mechanical vibrations in the house. I’ve seen insulation piled up along the base of a vaulted ceiling many times. Doors closing, climbing stairs, running through the house, etc all create vibrations in the structure, and insulation will slide down a vault much like an avalanche.

A Quick Remedy to Clear Clogged Soffit Vents

We use a cordless leaf blower to “blow-clear” soffit vents when we believe we’ve blown some of our cellulose insulation over a vent.

It’s really quite simple:

Standing outside, directly under the soffit vent in question – power-up your leaf blower and position the end of the blowing tube under the soffit vent.

The blast of wind will blow any leaves, insulation or other light-weight material off the vent, and leave your vent clear and free to operate as intended!

If your house is multi-story, use a length of pvc (plastic) pipe slid over the end of the blowing tube, to get the end of the blowing tube closer to the vent.

The vent-clearing activity is all done from outside, standing on the ground. You do not need toi be in the attic.

Ventilated attics are important to the lifespan and efficiency of your roof. Keeping the soffit vents clear is integral to the fresh-air circulating throughout the attic space!

Using your leaf blower is a quick, easy, and safe remedy when your soffit vents are clogged.

-Bob Bird
Bird Family Insulation

 

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