Networx

Posted by Steve Graham | Oct 27, 2009

Roof Ridge Vents

Roof ridge vents are an attractive and effective solution for generating airflow through your attic.

You need to ventilate your attic to release summer heat and prevent winter moisture and ice buildup. Roof ridge vents run along the top of the roof and create a continuous air gap. Combined with soffit vents, roof ridge vents ensure complete airflow through the attic space without electricity or moving parts. Roof ridge vents offer several advantages but can also cause problems if improperly installed. Adding a roof ridge vent can be a DIY project, but not for unskilled weekend warriors. When in doubt, call a roofer.

Why roof ridge vents?

  • They save money on electric bills by creating natural airflow without a powered fan. They also save on air conditioning by removing hot air trapped over the house.
  • They keep moisture from building up in the attic and causing water damage.
  • They run along the peak of the house, removing the hottest air from the hottest spot. An attic fan might sit halfway down the roof and not vent all the air above the fan. A fan is also more obtrusive than a thin, barely visible ridge vent.

Potential Problems with Roof Ridge Vents

Roof ridge vents are only effective if installed properly. Here are tips on avoiding ridge vent problems:

  • Wind, rain and snow could blow into the attic through the gap under a ridge vent. To avoid most problems, install a roof ridge vent with built-in baffles to block outside air.
  • An incomplete ventilation system could cause a lack of airflow through the vent. A ridge vent for outgoing air is only useful in conjunction with soffit vents or other openings for incoming air. Soffit vents must also be kept clear of insulation, dust and debris for maximum efficiency.
  • Snow can build up on the ridge vent. Depending on your climate and roof pitch, this may be unavoidable. In areas with heavy, lingering snow, consider a vertical extension that releases attic air above the snowdrift.

Buying and Installing Roof Ridge Vents

Adding a ridge vent only involves basic tools, but it requires removing parts of the roof, so sloppy work could cause major leaks and even structural damage. Installation is not a beginner job, but if you are confident in your carpentry skills and don't fear heights, here are the basics:

  • Carefully pry off the all the cap shingles.
  • Snap chalk lines along the middle of the roof, then snap parallel lines -inch from the center on each side.
  • Cut away the wood and remove the scraps, leaving six inches of wood on each end of the roof.
  • Nail down the ridge vent and affix the end caps.
  • Nail the cap shingles back on.

Most home improvement stores sell a couple of different roof ridge vent kits. An inexpensive and popular option is the GAF Cobra, which costs about $65 for a 20-foot roll. Dozens of other options are available, including more expensive and durable metal models.

No matter the material, a roof ridge vent can increase attic airflow and make your house safer and more comfortable.

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