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First of all, I'm clueless when it comes to DIY so forgive my amateur lingo and general clueless attitude. I'm still learning, be patient with me.

My wife and I bought a house on the sunny island of Guernsey last year which as you may know don't come cheap. The house looked immaculate when viewing it but upon closer inspection there's a few oddities that cropped up.

One of the significant oddities was when I clambered up into the attic to find that it's open to the outside air. By this I mean at the bottom of the roof (where the guttering is) to the top of the external walls it is completely open. You can see outside. The gap isn't big at all, but the attic is very cold. A typical attic I know of is usually warm and closed to the open air.

Now I know nothing about this kind of thing, but I assumed this isn't normal nowadays at least? Should it be closed off? Would this help with heating the house?

Apologies for the awful explanation, perhaps someone could decipher what I'm talking about and apply some logic to this construction? I'm assuming there's a name for this kind of thing?

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Perfect timing for this question! Take a look at today's blog entry on diy.blogoverflow –  Tester101 Dec 6 '11 at 13:06

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

The answer is "don't do that!" The vents you're seeing are ridge vents on top and a soffit vent on the bottom.

Attics need ventilation, these openings are by design and critical to avoiding serious roof damage. If you close them off, your attic will overheat in the summer, and cause ice dams and water damage if it snows. Newer vents include screens that will prevent pests from getting into the home. And you can also install baffles if you need to insulate into the rafters rather than the joists, but insulating the joists is preferable.

Here's a nice blog post about roof ventilation that will give you more details.

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That does answer my question, however, what's the point in roof insulation if you're going to allow the outside air get into the attic and cool it? –  Kieran Senior Dec 6 '11 at 13:24
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@Kezzer you insulate the the roof to keep warm/cool air in the house, but the roof itself needs ventilation. So the idea is to close off the attic, while still allowing outside air to reach the roof. –  Tester101 Dec 6 '11 at 13:29
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My question has been answered, because the floor of the attic is insulated, not the roof of the attic, so you can vent the entire attic space. Tada! –  Kieran Senior Dec 6 '11 at 13:30

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