I have a 75 year old stucco on LI,NY with a large unfinished attic. My
neighbor who is a contractor told me that I need ridge/soffit vents
which I'm sure is true.
My question is there are a zillion houses built in the NY area with 3rd
floors without this venting. Are they all rotting away from moisture,
was the old construction different? My neighbor didn't know the answer
and guessed that these houses didn't put insulation in the 3rd floors
and therefore wouldn't have the moisture problem, but that can't be
I'm not doing anything soon anyway - the township wants fire escapes
and sprinklers for refinished existing unfinished 3rd floor spaces.
Glen Head NY
There is some difference of opinion wrt this. Finished top floors do
not need roof ventilation according to some writers. Personally, I
think of finished top floor ceilings like walls; we don't ventilate
walls. On the other hand, I always make every attempt to use vapor
barrier paint on outside walls and ceilings which have no other vapor
I would never fail to use a vent for an attic where the insulation is
in the attic floor. But when the attic has the insulation in its
ceiling, as is the case with finished surfaces, that is debatable, I
Just my opinion; feel free to shoot it down. But I am always looking
for STUDIES about this kind of thing. --Phil
Phil Munro Dept of Electrical & Computer Engin
mailto: email@example.com Youngstown State University
As a frequent occupant of Old Louisville, I can tell you
that the cornices go to hell, and in the process, roof gets
Frequent reminder-Unless you have at least one square
foot of vent per 300 sq. ft. of vented space, you have no
warrantee on most shingles.
I'm from LI and every older home with 3 stories (Unfinished walkable attic) has
at least 2 windows up there, or a couple of very ornamental (octagonal or
diamond shape) vents, which probably were stucco'd over at some time in the
Check your attic again and look for the framing for a window or vent. It's
probably been mistakenly covered over.
The attic does have 2 windows - one converted to an attic fan. that's
not really the problem - it's what I have to do to finish it properly.
The unfinished attic is a peak - that is the house is a narrow stucco
with a high pitched roof so if I finished the wall the of course it
would all be angled, not verticle to the floor.
The vent issue is a pain in the A## because I don't have soffits - the
roof line end right at the wall - I think I have to put in these soffit
vents that would be very visable.
So looking at all this work - that got me wondering why there's 8
gazzilion houses with finished attics and no ridge vents. I'm jealous.
The reason those houses don't have vents is that they weren't veiwed as
critical elements. It's not a "best practice" but then neither is having no
overhanging soffit. If the ceiling meets the ridge rafter then venting
isn't as critical--think of the roof space more like a wall than an attic.
If interior construction is done properly for your climbate, then moisture
migration from inside the living space to the insulated space is minimized.
Check this link for information on best practices for specific climates. A
true wealth of information. You might also ask for opinions on
'alt.building.construction', various pros there may have specific experience
with this issue.
It's not about the moisture, it's about the heat buildup. Top
floors in older homes also typically didn't have air returns if
they even had forved air heat in the first place, so that makes
it just about impossible to add whole house AC unless you add a
2nd AC unit in the attic strictly for the top floor. Without
the ridge vents, the heat just hangs in the attic, making the
AC even more useless.
So if you meet me, have some courtesy,
have some sympathy, and some taste.
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