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How Moisture in the Shower Vent Creates Mold in the Attic

Mold Growth on the Wall

The bathroom fan should exhaust directly through the roof and to the outside of the home—not into the attic. When moisture from the shower vent accumulates in the attic, a mold problem will inevitably develop. Here is how moisture from the shower vent causes mold in the attic.

Bathrooms that are built with showers and tubs generate a large amount of moisture, especially when used frequently. The shower fans remove the moisture from the bathroom by directing it elsewhere. As long as the shower vents do not relocate the moisture to the attic, this system works.

It is important to remember that warm air rises. Hot showers introduce heated air into the home, which subsequently rises to the upper levels of the home, including the attic. An adequate attic ventilation system will lead this warm air to the outside of the home.

What moisture issues can develop in the attic?

The attic is intended to remain dry. Moisture accumulations in the attic will lead to a range of problems for the homeowner. Along with destroying the structural integrity of the roof, damaging the insulation and causing slippery floors, moisture in the attic will lead to mold infestations.

Ventilation issues are common causes of moisture accumulations in the attic. Proper roof ventilation allows air to circulate freely and prevents moisture and heat from becoming trapped in the attic. Air that is unable to enter or exit the attic can cause moisture and subsequent mold issues.

Bathroom fans that vent into the attic will undoubtedly result in moisture accumulation in this uppermost level of the home. The result of a constant source of moisture and heat entering the attic via the bathroom exhaust vents will be the development of mold colonies.

The mold growth in the attic will feed off the organic materials in the space. Mold spores find sufficient nourishment in moisture and an organic food source, like insulation, which is plentiful in the attic. Plus, the mold latching onto the roof timbers will cause them to rot.

Rotted roof timbers will compromise the structural integrity of the home. The mold spores will continue to eat away at these organic materials, severely weakening them in the process. A possible consequence of the extremely rotted timbers is a roof collapse.

The homeowner will also have to pay for mold remediation when mold grows in the attic space. Moldy air in the attic will circulate to other parts of the home, making the entire home unlivable. Only after mold cleanup experts perform their task can the home become habitable again.

Mold growth inside the living areas can trigger ill health in the home’s occupants. Symptoms that develop after prolonged exposure to indoor mold spores include respiratory problems, skin and eye irritations, allergies, and worsened asthma symptoms in people suffering from asthma.

What are common signs of attic mold?

The attic will send out warning signals when mold infiltrates the space. Wet attic insulation is one indication that mold will soon become a problem. Frost buildup on the underside of the roof is a sign of poor ventilation, which can lead to future mold growth.

Adequate ventilation is essential in the attic. In fact, the attic space should feel breezy. A hot and stuffy attic lays the groundwork for a mold outbreak. When water drips from lower-level ceiling fixtures, like fans or lights, the upper level, namely the attic, has a moisture problem.

Moldy odors that resemble damp earth or dirty, wet socks are clear signs that mold has latched onto the attic space. Dark, blackened splotches growing on wooden building materials in the attic are visual cues that mold has already taken hold.

Where should shower vents be directed?

Due to the certainty that a shower vent expelling bathroom moisture directly into the attic will cause indoor mold growth, many municipalities mandate that builders follow building codes that require bathroom vents to exhaust outside the home—not inside the attic.

In the most ideal cases, the home’s shower vent will exhaust out of the side of the home. Although vents leading out of the roof seem practical, vent openings in the roof can introduce issues, such as leaks—more openings in the roof lead to more potential problems.

Mold is fungi and thrives on moisture, darkness, and an organic food source. A moisture-rich attic, such as one where shower vents exhaust into, will provide all three nutrients to the mold. Stopping mold growth first starts with repairing the moisture problem. Without moisture, mold cannot grow.

When bathroom vents exhaust directly into the attic, the homeowner is advised to redirect the shower vents to the outside. While the task will require an upfront cost, delaying the project will lead to an even costlier mold problem and possible roof damage later on.

What if there is already damage in my attic?

Homeowners who discover water damage inside the home should consult a reputable water damage cleanup company, like ServiceMaster of Lancaster County, for immediate restoration. Water damage is a serious issue, one that will spread quickly if not addressed right away.

Water damage is caused by a wide range of events, such as plumbing leaks, malfunctioning appliances, natural flooding and sewage backups. Our skilled technicians will extract the excess water, dry the property, provide structural repairs, and sanitize the home so that it is livable once again.

When water damage is left unaddressed for prolonged periods, mold will develop. ServiceMaster of Lancaster County also offers quality mold remediation services. Our crews assess the extent of mold growth, contain the affected areas, eliminate the mold, and clean damaged goods.

Whether your home or business requires professional water damage restoration or effective mold removal services, ServiceMaster of Lancaster County is your one-stop resource. We provide emergency services and are available 24 hours a day to property owners in Lincoln, Nebraska. Call us for the best in local restoration services.