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What is Wind Wash & Why Does it Matter?

Posted on February 28, 2019 by Peter-John Woolf

Wind-Wash-in-Calgary-Homes

Wind gusts in Southern Alberta are generally welcome, especially since they usually signal a Chinook is coming. What a lot of homeowners don’t know is that winds can also play havoc with the insulation in your home’s attic. This is known as “wind wash.”

What is Wind Wash?

Wind wash is caused by airflow coming through the soffits or roof vents into your attic space. Gusts can push loose-fill insulation out of place, causing bare spots and uneven insulation.

In a normal insulated attic space, the loose-fill insulation should be fairly even throughout (as shown in the image above).

What Happens When Wind Wash Goes Untreated?

When pockets of the attic are not evenly covered in insulation filler, you may notice that the room below the space becomes noticeably cooler.

Warm air from the room below the spots will meet cold air from the attic and moisture spots may appear on the ceiling. You may see frost build-up in the attic as well as on the ceiling in the room below.

Checking Your Attic Space

As part of your home owner maintenance, it is crucial to regularly inspect your attic space for wind wash.

It may be intimidating for homeowners to go into the attic, but avoiding it could result in damage throughout your home. Before you enter your attic, it is crucial that you prepare properly and proceed safely. Here are some tips:

  • Have a partner to spot you on any ladder and remain close by when you enter the attic.
  • Bring a flashlight.
  • Wear a dust mask.
  • When walking around you may pack down the insulation; check behind you and cover your tracks.
  • Watch your step! There may be gas lines, electrical lines, ductwork for central air and heating, bathroom exhaust fans, plumbing pipes and more in your attic space.

How to Repair Wind Wash

You can usually redistribute the insulation back into the uncovered areas by raking it into the bare (or thin) spot and leveling out the surrounding area.

If you notice that wind washing continues in the same area, then you may try replacing a batt of insulation (the pink rolls of insulation) over top the loose-fill insulation to keep that area covered.

Checking for wind wash can help you to ‘weather’ swinging winter temperatures we find in southern Alberta.

More Reading

Attic Rain cases are on the rise in Calgary this year. See this article from Global News for more information:  https://globalnews.ca/news/5002574/attic-rain-calgary/.

Topics: home maintenance, home tips