If you’ve ever stepped into an uninsulated attic in the winter, you may have found something unexpected: frost. Frost may seem harmless when everything is cold and frozen, but as soon as the sun shines and the attic temperature rises, frost can become a danger to your home. If it doesn’t evaporate, it can leak into your home’s structure and cause water damage that may then lead to mold growth, mildew, poor indoor air quality, rotting wood, and other serious problems.
Wondering how in the world frost forms in your attic in the first place? Today, we’ll address all your attic frost-related questions so you can have a better understanding of how to fix this pesky problem and protect your home from further damage.
What causes frost to form in my attic?
Frost can form when warm air from inside your home rises to the attic and gets trapped there—often on the underside of the roof or on the attic floor. As warm, moist air hits the cold attic air, it condenses and forms water droplets or, when the temperature is below freezing, frost.
Is frost dangerous for my home?
A small amount of frost in your attic shouldn’t be an issue. If it accumulates, however, it can cause water damage in your home. In your attic space alone, excess moisture can damage insulation and lead to roof deterioration. If the moisture trickles back down through your ceiling, it could manifest in the form of stains, mold, or mildew. If you notice a moisture problem in your home, address it as soon as possible.
How do I prevent frost buildup in my attic?
There are three main things you can do to fix moisture problems in your home. You can seal air leaks and attic bypasses, reduce indoor humidity levels, and ensure your attic ventilation system is working properly.
1. Seal Air Leaks
The first step you should take is to seal any air leaks to prevent warm air from seeping into your attic space. By keeping the warm air down in your living area, you’ll not only prevent moisture buildup in the attic, but you’ll also reduce energy waste. Seal all leaks—large and small—by filling in any holes or crevices in the attic floor, around plumbing pipes, near the chimney, and around light fixtures. This can be a difficult task since some air leaks are small and hard to pinpoint; some might also be located under insulation. Hire a professional to do the job for you, if necessary.
Caution: Never disturb insulation containing asbestos. If you have asbestos in your attic, don’t touch it; leave the job to professionals. If you’re not sure whether your insulation contains asbestos, you can purchase a test kit or call an inspector to safely test the insulation for you.
2.Reduce Indoor Humidity Levels
The easiest thing you can do to reduce humidity levels in your home is to turn off your humidifiers. While a humidifier may make your home more comfortable for you during the winter, doing without it could save you a lot of money and heartache in the long run. As whole-home humidifiers rise in popularity in modern homes, so do serious moisture-related problems. Newer homes are sealed tighter than older, draftier homes, which creates more humidity buildup inside. A basement moisture problem can also lead to frost formation in the attic, so making sure your basement stays dry might just fix your attic issue.
Another way to reduce indoor humidity levels is to make sure all exhaust vents lead outdoors rather than into another part of your home or the attic. If they don’t, reroute them. Run your bathroom exhaust fan for up to an hour after showering or bathing, and use your kitchen exhaust fan while cooking and baking to remove excess moisture from the home.
3.Ventilate the Attic
While you’re up in the attic sealing air leaks, make sure insulation isn’t blocking any of the air vents in your attic or roofing system. A good ventilation system will increase airflow by allowing a cool, dry breeze to flow through the attic space to help reduce moisture and frost accumulation.
If you have frost forming in your attic and need help implementing any of the tips we listed above, contact a professional. You may already have an adequate amount of insulation and simply need to improve your ventilation system, or maybe your ventilation is sufficient but you need someone to seal air leaks in your attic. If a contractor performs an inspection and says you don’t need either of these, you may simply need to cut back on the amount of moisture you’re adding to your home in the winter.
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