Most homes have some kind of roof ventilation. If you see a vent on the gable ends of your home, or a turbine protruding near the ridge, you can tell that you have at least one kind of roof ventilation. Of course, the existence of roof venting is not necessarily proof that the ventilation is sufficient or even operational. With this guide, you’ll know the most common types of attic ventilation and how to tell if you need more.
What Is an Attic Vent?
When you look at a home, you’ll probably notice something that looks like a vent on the side. That’s because attics can hold onto heated air, and they need a way to clear it out. An attic vent is the solution. If you have no idea what it is or how it works, we’re here to help. Here’s an explanation of vent types that work with a variety of roof styles.
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The goal of ventilation is to cycle old air for new. Intake vents allow cool air to enter the attic area. They might be installed on the edge of the roof, along the soffits, or on the gable ends. When used in combination with an exhaust vent, they use passive ventilation to move the air through. Intake vents aren’t always effective, however. Soffit vents can be blocked by insulation, and gable vents don’t work for finished attics.
Exhaust ventilation tends to be the most effective type of roof vent, and there are a few options to choose from. Exhaust ventilation draws warm, stale air out of the attic and releases it outdoors. The system might use passive ventilation or wind to operate. Powered exhaust vents have a built-in fan that runs once the attic reaches a certain temperature. They are ideal as a way to guarantee ventilation in any weather condition. If your attic has a lot of air leaks, however, you may waste energy with this method.
Installing a static vent gives you a way of exhausting the warm air without as much risk of leaking water. Static vents usually sit above the roof. If you have seen a small metal turbine on top of a roof, you know what a static vent looks like. The wind turns the turbine, pulling air out of the attic. Modern styles are built to keep debris and precipitation from entering the attic space.
A ridge vent is one of the most popular types of exhaust ventilation. This vent runs along the ridge of the roof. The benefit of this placement is that the heated air will rise to the highest point in the attic. In most cases, that’s near the ridge of the roof, so the warm air can escape with the least barrier.
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Venting for Finished Attics
If you have a finished attic (or you’re thinking about finishing it to increase your living space), you may have special ventilation needs. A lot of the vent options for unfinished attics lose efficacy once you add insulation and drywall. In this case, you might need to use rafter vents. Although these aren’t technically vents, they create a baffle next to your insulation. That allows the air to come in through a soffit vent and escape through a ridge vent.
What Is the Proper Ventilation for an Attic?
Although installing roof ventilation is key, you don’t need a ton of it. As a general rule, you need one square foot of vents for 300 square feet of roofing. If you have too much more than that, you may notice a rise in energy usage for cooling and heating. Additionally, roof vents are prone to leaking, so excessive numbers can increase that risk. If your attic is constantly hot and stuffy, or you have problems with ice dams, you probably need more than you have.
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What Are the Pros and Cons of Ridge Vents?
Although ridge vents are the most common type of roof vent, they aren’t always the best. Ridge vents are comparatively simple to install with a roof replacement. They’re at the top of the roof, so the air doesn’t have to cycle through in order to escape. The major problem is the method of exhaust. If the system doesn’t have a baffle to keep the outdoor air from running over the vent, ventilation will be minimal at best.
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What Happens if a Roof Has No Ventilation?
If your roof doesn’t have sufficient ventilation, you’ll be at risk for a variety of problems. When the hot air can’t cycle out of the attic, it creates warm spots on the roof. In the winter, warm spots melt snow, which later turns to ice. Unless you address the problem, you may end up with ice dams, which can damage your roof or destroy it entirely.
You may not think much about your attic vents until you end up with a problem that makes it a priority. That’s when you want to hire a professional that can take care of it for good. The experts at Bromwell Construction Company have spent decades building expertise in roof replacement. Request an estimate to ensure you have the best roof ventilation.