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Attic Ventilation Explained

24 January 2020

Attic ventilation is a concept that few homeowners give much thought to. However, if not properly addressed, an attic can soon become an odorous and moldy space.  Inadequate levels of home ventilation can also speed up the lifespan of your roof shingles by trapping heat and moisture.  Roofing manufacturers have stringent parameters governing the levels of ventilation that must be used in tandem with their shingles.  Failure to adhere to these recommendations can void the roof manufacturer’s warranty.

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Partnering with a reputable contractor is a key component to ensuring your ventilation project is successfully completed, as the best approach varies from home to home.  When deciding which contractor to use for your project, be sure to ask them to clearly explain the types of exhaust vents they are using and why.

Roof vents can be broken into two major categories, intake and exhaust vents.  Intake vents are located at the lower part of the roof and allow cooler air to permeate the attic.  Exhaust vents are at the peak of the roof and provide a location for hot air to exit the attic.  Here are key facts about each type of vent.

Types of Intake Vents:

Soffit Vents: Soffit vents are installed on the bottom of a home’s eaves.  Fresh cool air is pulled in at the base of a roof and the warm, moist air is emitted through the vents at the peak of the roof.

Gable Vents: Gable vents are most commonly found on the ends of the house.  Typically, vents are louvered.  This allows the gable vents to permit air from being pulled out of the attic space while still preventing snow and rain from entering the attic.

Types of Exhaust Vents:

Ridge: Ridge vents are installed at the peak of a roof.  Their primary function is to allow moist, toasty air an escape route from a building’s attic.  Before installing a ridge vent, a small area of roof decking is removed from both sides of the ridgeline to permit the movement of air through the vent.  Reputable contractors take special care to ensure that the ridge vent’s functionality is not disrupted by any of the home’s framework.

Ridge Vent

Static: Comprised of metal or plastic, static vents are available in an array of colors to complement your home.  For maximum effectiveness, they should be installed in close proximity to the ridge of the roof.  This configuration ensures that the highest possible amount of moisture and heat have the ability to exit, as the vents are absent of moving parts.  It is often necessary to have numerous static vents on a roof in order to be effective.

Powered Exhaust: These vents are accompanied with sizable motors that turn large fans in order to expel warm, moist air, out of the attic.  Some models contain programmable thermostats and humidistats that cause the fan to start at a certain temperature. Current models quietly function which is beneficial from a soundproofing standpoint but can make it harder to detect if the fan has stopped running.

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