Attic Rain Calgary

Attic Rain Calgary | One of the biggest threats to Calgary and area homeowners

Attic Rain Calgary | Attic rain season is a very tough time for many Calgary homeowners. With proper precautions in place, you and your family can enjoy this time with one another. 

The cause of Attic rain is often inadequate ventilation, which may cause serious damage to your home. Builders are given codes to follow regarding the amount of square footage that coincides with the number of vents that will be required to properly ventilate your home. 

The problem is, often the building codes do not come with instructions on the placement of the vents, and what happens is, the vents are then placed haphazardly around the roof and which causes what we call a short circuit. Which disrupts the in-flow from under the eavestroughs and out-flow of the top of the attic’s venting. 

It is very common to see ventilation under 50% or more in many Calgary homes, making sure your venting is 300:1 or 150:1 is something standard building codes require depending on your roof pitch. This wrecks your home’s insulation, the home’s plywood, and basically causes the house to rot from the inside out. 

Another cause of Attic rain in Calgary is inadequately set up or connected HVAC vents or HVAC tubing from bathrooms and kitchens to the outside of your home. Which can be a primary source of humid and warm air leaking into your cold attic space. This can also cause big time frost build up on the underside of your plywood which in turn makes stains on your ceiling and often people mistake this as a roof leak instead of attic rain which is the real culprit.

We wanted to find out more about attic rain from a real estate professional’s perspective so we asked Kristin at CIR Realty Calgary how often she encounters problems related to attic rain and what some of the damages are that she sees in her industry caused as a result. 

Not very often really, I have been on the buyer’s side when it comes to dealing with that sort of issue. Usually, the first indication is yellow spots on the ceiling upstairs. I did just encounter this and we are actually doing the closing on this property today. The home inspector actually got up into the attic and noticed the ceiling fan was not connected properly to the ventilation going to the outside of the roof. It looked like it just needed a simple reconnection which was what they did.”

We also asked Kristen how this problem might affect the home’s selling price and she responded. 

“I think that if it was a large enough issue that absolutely it would effect the property’s value. If I were on the listing side, I would give my seller clients the option of getting a roofer to come in to do a deeper dive into the issue and then they can make a decision on whether or not they want to repair it before listing or we list it as-is but we would price is accordingly in that case and disclose.”

Attic Rain Calgary

No Payne Roofing often warns people that many Calgary roofers do not know how to properly ventilate a house. Most roofing companies in Calgary simply use cheap low laid vents which get buried in the snow , and place venting back on the home the way it was found, sometimes worse off than it was before. 

Venting can not be mixed, all vents have to be the same vents to balance the out flow. What happens is Calgary roofers will come in and try to fix a problem, cut in a couple of whirly birds, and will be put in beside vents that are not compatible with those vents which make the issues worse. A whirlybird is a wind turbine that is wind-driven and is often identified as a spinning top on the roof of your home. 

When a resolution is made to attic rain in Calgary you shouldn’t assume the problem is resolved, make sure you check your attic again after the work has been done. Be sure to check it when it is -15 to -40 outside to make sure there’s no more frost as more venting may need to be added, you may require more insulation, or vapor barrier repairs, if you fail to check you could be getting more expensive repair bills over the years of frost damages. 

Some people will cheap out for a roof that is a couple thousand dollars less and later on down the road they end up having a huge attic rain issue which is a “silent killer” because most of the time the insulation absorbs much of the attic rain before it even begins to make a stain inside of your home. Many homeowners go through this for years without realizing that the real issue is a direct cause of attic rain. By that time, all of your insulation is moldy and your plywood is wrecked.

We decided to get in touch with Shaun from Urban City Builders to find out more about some of the causes and effects attic rain has on Calgary homes. 

“I used to work in the home building industry as a site supervisor. Attic Rain especially in Calgary is a big thing, not so much in Edmonton. Due to the extreme freeze-thaws that we get when our weather drops down to the -30’s and then we get the chinooks that start to roll in. What ends up happening is in the cold the frost starts to build up to the underside of the OSB sheathing (oriented strand board). If you ever look into your attic at that time when it is really cold you will actually see frost buildup.”

When the Chinook rolls in and our temperature starts to drop drastically back to zero, it all starts to melt and that is when you get your attic rain. People will often say they have water coming out of their bathroom fans and they think they have a water leak on their roof. The way to mitigate this is when you know the chinook is coming in you need to be proactive and you have to turn on your bathroom fans, and they have to run a lot.” Shaun recommends running your bathroom fans for at least 60 minutes a day, minimum.

“A lot of the newer homes especially need this, older homes were made in a way that allowed them to breathe. Builders often seal up new homes so tight and that is why you see, in so many new homes a humidifier and a de-humidifier. When I first started in this industry there were only humidifiers in these houses. Calgary is a dry climate and people wanted to put some moisture into their homes. Now they have the opposite because people are turning up their humidifiers super high and as well people start to bring up the issue of ice buildup on their windows especially when it is very cold outside. As the weather gets warmer all of this ice begins to melt and it starts to destroy their window casing and this is something we see as well.”

The key takeaway from this is in most cases, homeowners don’t find out they have an attic rain issue until the stains in the ceiling start appearing and by that time, a high level of damage has already been done.

Venting does need to change in regards to what type of roof it is. For vaulted ceilings, most people don’t know that you need to double your venting. Low-sloped roofs also call for twice the ventilation which is often something that is often overlooked. If you have a 4/12 and under you need 1 square feet of venting at the top for every 150 square feet of attic, or 1 square feet of venting at the top for every 300 square feet of venting for 5/12 and over, you must ensure that you have 50/50 soffit intake vs outtake. 

What often causes even more problems in ventilating your home is the smaller in size box-vents which are the standard here in Calgary. What often ends up happening is these vents get buried beneath the snow during the winter time. For our cold weather climate which often calls for a lot of snow, the taller vents that don’t get buried in the snow are the most effective option for Calgarians to choose from, they’re also just better at venting period. 

Attic Rain Calgary
This is a thermal image and the dark spot is where attic frost wasn't dealt with.

No Payne Roofing often receives calls for attic rain issues generally beginning in November and don’t stop until March which can number in the hundreds. Evidentially meaning this problem city-wide likely numbers in the thousands. Most of the time the solution is a quick fix with prices ranging anywhere from $1,600 – $4,000 to fix the venting issues. Most of the time the roof doesn’t need to be replaced but sometimes it does due to the decking being so badly rotten which can cost homeowners tens of thousands of dollars. 

No Payne Roofing has seen attic rain issues cost homeowners over $40,000 in Calgary Roofing repairs as a result of the roof having to be completely re-decked. Which doesn’t even include the insulation. Which on average, can cost around $6,000 to $10,000 to take out the old insulation and replace it with new. 

The winter is when most leaks occur. Attic inspections should always be routinely done. Ice damming is another huge problem caused by inadequate ventilation. Another cause is also related to insulation being pushed up against the decking which causes heat to transfer from the inside of the home to the outside, which eventually melts the snow from the inside out and causes ice dams. Ice dams have been known to cause people to have to move out of their homes in order to live in hotels while their insurance fixes the damages caused as a result. 

The worst part is that sometimes the insurance company doesn’t even fix the actual problem, they just generally fix all of the damages that were caused. The problem persists, and you are left facing the same issues again later down the road. If you happen to notice ice dams on your home’s roof this is a cause for concern and you should give No Payne Roofing a call for a roofing inspection. 

A lot of the time the solution to attic rain is simply topping up the insulation and increasing your home’s ventilation. No Payne Roofing provides Calgary roofing inspections that range anywhere from $145 – $325. Having an industry professional inspect your home’s roof at a reasonable price can potentially save you thousands of dollars in the long run.

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