skip to main content

SciTech ConnectSciTech Connect

Title: Moisture performance of sealed attics in the mixed-humid climate

Oak Ridge National Laboratory studied 8 homes in the mixed-humid climate, 4 with vented attics and 4 with sealed attics. ORNL wanted to understand the moisture performance of the sealed attic and how it affected the interior environment. We found that the attic and interior of sealed attic homes were more humid than the attic and interior observed in vented attic homes. This is due to the lack of ventilation in the sealed attic. Historically attics have been vented to dehumidify the attic and interior of the home. A sealed attic design greatly reduces the venting potential and thus this drying pathway and can cause elevated interior moisture over a vented attic home. Despite the elevated attic and interior moisture in the sealed attic homes, so far no mold or material degradation has been found. The roof sheathing moisture content has stayed below 20%, indicating low potential for material degradation. Also the relative humidity at the roof sheathing has stayed within the ASHRAE 160 design criteria except for a short time during the 2011/2012 winter. This was due to a combination of the sealed attic design (minimal venting to the outside) and the duct work not being operated in themore » attic which usually provides a dehumidification pathway. It was also found that when the humidity was controlled using the HVAC system, it resulted in 7% more cooling energy consumption. In the mixed-humid climate this reduces the cost effectiveness of the sealed attic design as a solution for bringing ducts into a semi-conditioned space. Because of this we are recommending the other alternatives be used to bringing ducts into the conditioned space in both new construction and retrofit work in the mixed-humid climate.« less
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [1]
  1. ORNL
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
BT0201000; CEBT114
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL); Building Technologies Research and Integration Center
Sponsoring Org:
EE USDOE - Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EE)
Country of Publication:
United States
attic moisture buildings sealed unvented cathedralized conditioned water