Most people don’t think about roof vents, but the fact is they’re a vital part of your home’s ventilation system, and they’re an essential part of keeping your roof (whether in commercial roofing or residential) healthy and in proper working order for many years.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at the function of roof vents, how to install them, and why they’re vital to your house.
The Purpose of Roof Vents
When you think of your home’s ventilation system, it helps to think of it in terms of air intake and exhaust. Intake and exhaust are what facilitates airflow throughout the house. But what does this have to do with your roof?
Well, everyone knows that hot air rises, and in the house the hot air naturally rises to the attic. This is known as the stack effect, and it creates high pressure within the attic. To ventilate, you need cool air coming in. This ventilation ensures that the hot air doesn’t linger in the attic, which can cause damage to your roof.
Roof Vents Protect Against Damage
As previously mentioned, roof vents and proper house ventilation protects both your roof and your house against damage. But what kind of damage are we talking about?
For starters, have you ever seen houses with icicles stretching down from the gutters or the edges of the roof? This is called an ice dam, and the cause is the heat that’s built up in the attic combining with the heat from the sun to melt the snow that’s sitting on your roof.
When snow melts, the water runs down and — depending on how cold it is — begins to freeze again, causing the icicles. This ice buildup can cause water damage that occurs underneath the shingles, which can lead to major leaks down the road. When you have a good ventilation system, the hot air in your home is pumped out before it melts the ice and snow. Roof vents are also beneficial in the summer months to dissipate heat that builds up in the attic — heat that can loosen joints and warp supports.
Roof Vents Save You Money
Your roof is a magnet for everything that Mother Nature throws at it, and that includes the sun’s hot rays. When the sun’s rays hit your roof — and depending on the materials used in your roof — it can act as a solar oven. The buildup of heat coming from your roof and into your attic causes your home’s air conditioning unit to work harder to cool the house, which costs you more money.
Having a proper roof ventilation system ensures that hot air doesn’t build up in your attic.
In addition to saving you money on your home’s electric bill, having a good ventilation system ensures that the temperature in your house stays even throughout the house. If you’ve ever been in the attic or upstairs and swore it was 10 degrees hotter than the downstairs, it’s a sign you may need adequate ventilation to even out the temperatures.
How Much Ventilation Is Enough?
The amount of roof vents you’ll need depends on several factors including how big the house is. A good way to determine the number of vents required is to use a formula in which you provide for one sq. ft. of vent space for every 150 sq. ft. of attic space. Most experts also recommend placing half of your vents near the bottom of the roof and the other half near the top to provide a healthy airflow.
Types of Roof Vents
Once you’ve determined how many vents you’re going to need to cool your attic properly, you’ll have to decide what types of roof vents you’re going to purchase.
There are many different types to choose from including ridge vents, gable vents, and soffit vents. Also, some vents are motorized while the wind powers others. Of all the vents available, neither one is superior to the rest; you’ll have to choose the best vent for your particular situation.
If you’re unsure about which type of vent to buy, it may be beneficial to call in a roofing contractor who can recommend the best system based on your home’s airflow needs.
The most common type of roof vent is the basic low profile box vent. This vent is unobtrusive and can be matched to the color of your roof so they blend in better. This ventilation system is passive, which means it’s not motorized, making it relatively inexpensive and easy to install.
Installing Roof Vents
If you’ve determined you need roof vents you have two options: hire a professional roofing contractor or do it yourself.
Installing roof vents isn’t particularly expensive, and the national average dictates that the job can be done for just under $500. Still, if you’re handy with tools, and want to save some money, installing a basic, passive roof vent system is pretty easy.
The first thing you’ll want to do is figure out where on the roof you want to install the vent keeping in mind that you’ll wish to vents at both the bottom and the top of the roof. Next, mark out on your shingles the dimensions of the vent so you can accurately make your cut. Use a circular saw to cut through the shingles. Once you have your hole cut, place your vent and if you live in an area with high winds, secure it with a bit of roofing cement and nail it down.
While most newer homes have adequate ventilation systems, many older homes don’t. To see if you need better ventilation, check your attic for moisture and excessive heat, which suggest that you need more ventilation. Take note during winter for ice dams that build up, which also suggest better ventilation is required. A ventilation system not only protects your roof, but it also keeps your energy bills lower, keeps your family more comfortable, and ensures a healthier environment when you’re indoors.