Is It Bad to Have Frost in Your Attic?
By Admin | January 24, 2023
If you’ve ever gone up to your attic in the winter to check on things and noticed frost forming on surfaces, you’re not alone. While frost in your attic doesn’t present an immediate concern, it’s important to understand what causes this phenomenon. It’s also important to learn preventative measures you can take to prevent frost from accumulating next year, so you can avoid issues when temps rise. Let’s dig in.
Why is Frost Appearing in Your Attic?
There’s one main reason why frost is forming in your attic: heat loss. When warm air (and moisture that comes with it) moves from the conditioned living areas of your home to your attic, you’ve got heat loss. Heat loss is bad for a few reasons, namely because your attic is meant to be cold in the winter. Your attic should match the temps outdoors so that leaks and ice dams don’t form and your building materials are protected.
But when warm air from places like your living room and bedrooms escapes to your attic, it rises and causes condensation to form in your attic. When wintertime in Minnesota rolls around, that condensation will freeze and appear as frost on multiple surfaces, like your roof deck.
What Causes Heat to Move to Your Attic?
Warm air is able to move from your home to your attic because you have open bypasses that need to be sealed. Also called air leaks, open bypasses are hidden passageways that let heat escape. Some of the most common causes of air leaks include:
- Dropped Ceilings
- Heating Ducts
- Light Fixtures on Ceilings
- Exhaust Fans in the Kitchen & Bathroom
To prevent air from leaving your air-conditioned spaces and traveling to your unconditioned attic, you’ve got to seal the air leaks or open bypasses, allowing air to leave. Depending on the number of air leaks you’re dealing with, sealing them is easier said than done. Many are hidden and hard to find, especially when they’re under insulation. Having an expert perform an attic inspection to discover air leaks and provide remediation recommendations is the best way to get started on frost prevention in your attic.
How Does Attic Frost Harm Your Home?
When it comes to frost in our client’s attics, this is one of the most common questions we get. Frost itself isn’t what you need to worry about; it’s rising temperatures and, by proxy, melting frost that causes severe issues in your home. When the frost melts, it can cause leaks and drips, which can damage several areas of your home, including:
When melted frost drips on the insulation in your attic, it renders it incapable of resisting heat flow properly. Instead of keeping warm air out of the attic, the affected insulation becomes a conductor, allowing air into your attic. The result is a little bit like using a wet blanket to get warm. It doesn’t work very well at all.
The unfortunate reality is that when your attic has moisture, the entire space is at risk for mold growth. Mold is a gigantic hazard for both your health and your building materials. So long as water is present in your attic, mold will grow, and it will damage your home’s sheathing, insulation, and other components. It will also put your family members at risk, especially if they have asthma or are sensitive to allergies and mold.
Unglued Roof Deck
When your roof deck is exposed to moisture from frost during the winter, it literally becomes unglued. When that happens, your roof deck must be replaced, which can be an expensive and time-consuming endeavor.
How Can You Fix Attic Frost?
Since the root cause of frost in your attic is heat loss that eventually forms condensation, your goal should be to stop heat loss. As mentioned earlier, the best way to stop heat loss is to seal the leaky areas or bypasses that allow heat to escape. The best way to accomplish this task is to apply high-performance, closed-cell insulation to bypasses in your home, such as:
- Wall Separations
- Top Plate Framing
- Vents in Your Attic Space
- Recessed Lighting Fixtures
- Bathroom Vent Connections
- Dryer Vent Connections
- Plumbing Stack Connections
In short, every aspect of airflow in your home must be inspected and addressed accordingly. Often, this includes a full attic inspection by an ice and snow damage technician using advanced tools like thermal imaging to determine where heat loss occurs.
DIY Tips to Reduce Frost in Your Attic
If you’re like most homeowners, you may be wondering what steps to take to prevent attic frost on your own. The short answer is yes, though, for a complete solution, you may need the help of a professional.
Regarding DIY attic frost prevention, your overall goal is to reduce the moisture in your home. If your home is extra humid, your attic can get extra frosty in the winter.
Some DIY ways to reduce the humidity in your home include:
- Install Bathroom Fans: Using fans in your home’s bathrooms are key to keeping humidity low.
- Bathroom Fan Timer: When someone takes a hot shower in your home, set the fan timer for an hour to help humidity levels return to normal.
- Use Your Kitchen Fan: Ovens create a surprising amount of moisture. When using your oven, be sure to turn on your kitchen exhaust fan.
- Limit Humidifier Use: Having your humidifier run constantly is a good way to get a frosty attic. Try to limit your humidifier use to lessen the chances of frost developing.
Ungerman, Inc. is a family-owned company providing full-service mitigation, restoration, reconstruction, and renovation. Our mission is to provide our clients with the highest quality, dependable service while managing costs and maintaining communication. If you need restoration, reconstruction, or renovation, contact us today!