Attic Rain in Calgary

Is your attic space ready to handle attic rain conditions? Let us help!

Icon Set 02 1 A Nightmare in the Making

Your eyes slowly open after a long night of sleep and before you can even think about starting your morning coffee you hear a dripping sound coming from the bathroom fan, or even worse, see brown stains forming on your ceiling. It is never ideal to have attic rain happen to you, so luckily you are reading this and are warned to get your attic space inspected and prepared before the nightmare begins.

Unfortunately, attic rain is common in our climate in Calgary, but it can be solved before it happens if you know what to look for or who to call. Most people will call a roofing company first thinking it could be a leaky roof, but if this is happening during a chinook following a cold stretch, shingles are most likely not the culprit.

Is Attic Rain Preventable?

Having your attic inspected prior to the cold weather is always a great idea and cheaper than waiting until after there is a problem. 

Our attic specialists will look for multiple telltale signs of present attic issues or issues that may be imminent during the inspection. Initially, they will look for issues like old moisture stains, poor ventilation, low insulation thickness, and the type of insulation installed. They would also evaluate any possible vapour barrier issues, which is crucial in your attic insulation system. They will then look to make sure bathroom vents are doing their job in helping safeguard the overall health of your attic. 

Evaluating your attic system can help ensure that it is healthy prior to the fluctuating temperature swings that are always imminent in Southern Alberta winters, which is always the best way to go in attic rain prevention.

So you Have Attic Rain, Now What?

But what happens if you get caught by that ‘freak winter storm’, then it gets warm and now you have an issue?  Unfortunately, most homeowners are alerted to the issue of attic rain only when it’s too late and the damage is done. The brown stains start showing on the ceiling drywall, and current insulation gets wet and much less effective. The only good news in all of this is it can be fixed but before we get into that, let’s chat about why this happens.

What is Attic Rain Anyways?

The simple fact is that most attics leak warm air from inside the home up into the attic. The plastic vapour barrier is intended to stop this air flow, but more often than not, it is compromised or there are leaky areas, such as around your attic hatch, vents or pot lights allowing your warm air to escape into your attic. 

Now that the warm and humid air is in your cold attic, that moist air must collect somewhere and will likely reveal itself as frost on the underside of your roof sheeting. It is normal for most attics to have some frost on really cold days, similar to your car window or fence outside. The issue comes when the attic is not ventilated properly. Even attics with good ventilation from the soffit to the roof vents may pull this frost off the sheeting and you are left unaware that you are heating Alberta. But if the warm weather melts frost build-up before it burns off, you then have attic rain.

The water that falls from the sheeting now passes through the attic insulation and sits on the plastic vapour barrier. Because we already know there are likely air leaks through the vapour barrier, we also know water will take that same path of least resistance and start to drip onto the drywall ceiling. This is usually when you wake up from a good night’s sleep and see the stains!

Attic Rain Prevention Tips.

There are some basic things you can do to help reduce attic rain, such as:

  • Monitoring your home humidity levels to below 20% when the temperature is -20c or colder. 
  • You can also look at using de-humidifiers in your home to reduce the RH (relative humidity).  Some homeowners have used timers on their bathroom fans and run them after they shower ensuring the extra humid air doesn’t have a chance to accumulate in the attic.
  • With the advancement in HVAC systems that can run your furnace fan full time, it can aide in keeping this issue at bay. But with all that said, these are just “band-aide” solutions and to ensure it does not ever happen, the following are our sure-fire and permanent solutions. 

Our Permanent Solution for Attic Rain.

To solve the issue, you need to repair the compromised plastic vapour barrier, ensure proper ventilation, as well as ensuring you have adequate depth (R value) of insulation. 

Beyond’s solution is to install our Attic Hybrid System. This system creates a monolithic vapour barrier using our 2lb closed cell foam and then we blow in attic loose fill insulation on top to get the R value to where we want it. 

In an occupied home, our team will remove the existing insulation revealing the vapour barrier below, as well as the back side of the drywall ceiling.  A second crew will install a R12-R22 2lb foam, which is the new vapour barrier, keeping the warm air you are paying for inside your home.  The fiberglass loose fill is installed to complete the process leaving you with an amazing R52 attic space, and peace of mind that your morning thoughts are more about the kids sporting events or planning that family vacation. 

To finish off your healthy attic system, Beyond Insulation will take care of venting your attic properly, ensuring bathroom vents are installed correctly and treat anything going up in your attic before doing any install of the insulation so you are left with a healthy warm and safe attic space.

Watch this sort video showing what attic rain is and what Beyond can do to prevent it.

attic frost
attic frost2
ceiling stain
Roof vent
Blown-in loose fill attic
R20 2lb spray foam insulation in Attic

To learn more, please reach out and we would be happy to discuss and come and take a look. 

Beyond Insulation- 403-730-8080 

Author: Kevin Boschee