Q&A / 

New Asphalt Roof Smell in House

Quick Column Summary:

  • New roof has asphalt smell
  • How is it getting into home
  • Shingles off gassing into attic
  • Turbine vents will remove smell

Rosie Palau, who lives in Sarasota, FL the home of the best sugar beach sand in the USA, has a big problem in her home. I know how to solve it!

"My landlord had a new roof put on the house last December. 2013. All was well until we put the air conditioner on late April this year.

Then in the afternoon after the outside of the house gets good and hot, the inside has a strong asphalt-type smell, which hurts my throat.  I know this is from the off gassing of the roof because I also smell it in places around the house when it's sunny and hot out.

How is this smelly outside air getting in when all the windows are closed?  And how can I stop it?  We had the air ducts checked for leaks and sealed but that did not help a whit!  Thank you !"

Here's my answer to Rosie:

Rosie, you bet the hydrocarbon vapors can be irritating. The sun is cooking the new shingles and it's indeed offgassing into the attic space between the roof and your ceiling.

Since you're in Florida, I pretty much am sure your house is built on a slab and your AC ductwork is in the attic space.

The duct sealing job may be inferior. It's also entirely possible that air from the attic space is being drawn into your home from unsealed holes where electric cables and plumbing vent pipes penetrate the top plates of the walls that connect to the roof trusses or the ceiling joists.

The simple solution is to install three turbine roof vents, many call them whirlybirds, up on the roof. You'll also need great soffit ventilation strips put in that allow outside air to flow up and into the attic space so the asphalt fumes are exhausted out of the top of the roof. The soffit ventilation needs to be continuous all the way down the soffit.

If the turbine vents don't work, then you'll need one or two power ventilators that move lots of air.

You can't stop the offgassing and you need to VENTILATE it outdoors bringing in fresh air into the attic.


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