Every home requires great custom ventilation to function properly.  Your roof vents are part of your custom roof system and assist by having the air that enters from your soffit circulate properly through your home. Then, the air leaves through the attic from the ridge vents or box vents that are sitting on top of your roof. These are an essential part of making sure there are no leaks or issues with your roof. Today, we are talking about the importance of having a proper roof vent installation.

Additional reasons custom roof vents are important is that they help “air” your roof and in turn, makes your roof lifespan longer. Roof ventilation also helps with keeping your home cool during the summer months and helps keep heat from escaping during winter months, thus, helping decrease energy costs. There are many benefits from these, now let’s take a deeper look.

What is Attic Ventilation?

Essentially, the ventilation of your attic is what helps your house breathe or air, as we stated above.  Think about it like this, during hot, summer months, the hot air builds and gets inside the house. What we don’t want is for this hot air which turns into moisture to stay indoors with us, we want it to circulate through the home quickly and leave through an exit. If this air stays in, then it will cause damage over time, with condensation and moisture building up. Rot and mold will form on your roof and attic and this can lead to leaks and even health issues. Or even lead to leaks and watermarks on your ceiling.

A proper roof ventilation will be able to  let air flow through the attic and leave accordingly through your roof. It will also prevent your house from overheating during summer months. This is why roof vents are essential!

How do Roof Vents Work?

Technically speaking, proper roof ventilation will only work when the air that is inside the home flows through it. The cool air that enters is called the intake, this in turn pushes the hot air out. This hot air is known exhaust. The entire process is called the stack effect.

There are two systems that create this air flow and these are the mechanical and passive systems.

  1. Passive Systems – Are also known as natural systems. Passive systems work when natural sources, such as wind, push the air through the attic. This works by warm or hot air being moved or pushed by the cooler air that is inside. Examples of these kinds of systems are ridge vents, static vents and gable end ones. The reason they’re known as passive is because they do not have any moving components, after installation, they start working. They do not require any electricity or create any noise.
  2. Mechanical Systems – Mechanical systems are in turn, called active systems. These, as you can tell by the name, are constantly working to make sure that the airflow is moving accurately. Therefore, active systems pull fresh air from the outside through the soffits and push this air into the attic space, where it continues to push the warm air out through the vents. Examples of these systems include: turbine vents, power vents, turtle vents and solar-powered ones.

Types of Exhaust Roof Vents

Box Vents

These are one of the oldest types of custom systems found in many established homes. Box vents are still reliable today and some homeowners prefer the aesthetic and reliability of them. When installing box vents, its also a good idea to replace your roof and do it all at once. These work by cutting custom square areas on the roof. Box vents are usually put closer to the top of the roof, along the ridge area. These are weather tight and can be installed  on roof pitches that range from 3:12 to 12:12. The most popular colors are black and brown for box vents. The most common box vents measure 18 x 18 inches.

box vents roof installation in Indianapolis on one story house with brown shingles

Ridge Vents

Ridge vents are becoming more popular amongst homeowners who come to determine that its time to replace their roofs with newer systems. These systems are installed at the top or peak of the house and along the entire roof line. Because they sit at the top of the roof, they are able to dispel the hottest air from the attic. The installation process involves leaving a small opening where the warm air flows out of.

Once this opening is made, the ridge cap shingle is manually bent and placed on top for coverage. While it sounds daunting to have small openings at the top of your house, do not worry. The way these ventilation holes are placed impede snow or rain to go into the roof while safeguarding against snow accumulation or even ice dams from forming.

Many homeowners prefer these type of systems for their aesthetic look, since they are molded onto the top underneath a final layer of the shingles, causing it to blend with the roof and giving a clean look. Ridge vents do not require any electricity to work, so they are a passive system. Ridge vents are the top roofing ventilation system in today’s industry.

gray ridge vent Owens Corning installation on new roof
Wind Turbines

Wind turbines use natural air to operate and spin, letting out the warm, stale air. The shape of the turbine fans aid them in pushing the wind and rotate, so the moving flows through the home. Of course, for these to work properly, you need to live in areas where there is more wind present. Usually 5 mph winds are good for these systems to thrive in.

Other benefits of the wind turbine fans is that they are eco-friendly and do not make any noise. Its good to keep in mind that if there is no wind present, then these vents will not work and there could be trouble. A good backup would be to install additional wind turbine or other forms of exhaust as a second option, just in case.

air ventilation type for roof vent in color gray made of aluminum

Intake Ventilation Systems

In order for the roof ventilation system of your choosing to work properly, the intake part needs to work alongside the exhaust. We are highlighting some of the best systems below. Always consult with your roofing contractor before deciding on your final decision.

Soffit Vents

Soffit vents are put into the eaves of your house, eaves are the edges of the roof. This is why these type of systems are also referred to as eave vents, and there are different types. For example, the continuous soffit vents are installed at the length of the home’s soffit and cover more of the area. Continuous soffit are mostly made of vinyl and come in different colors. Individual soffit vents are the other type, are singularly  placed, and smaller than the continuous kind. These tend to come in rectangular shapes, and spaced around 5-6 feet apart from each other. Because they take in less air, they are not as popular as their counterpart.

Soffit vents work when cool air enters the eaves and travel to the peak of the roof, where air then exits. Because of all of these advantages, they are the most popular type of intake roof system. The standard soffit type usually has small, tiny holes where the cool air comes in from. These holes are small enough that no critters or bugs should be able to go inside.

Gable Vents

You will find gable vents among older style homes, these come in different shapes and sizes, however, the most popular design is the triangular shape that goes in the front, peak of the exterior of the house. When driving by or perhaps, look at the front of your own home, you might notice gables that sit directly below the roof. Gable vents are commonly paired with gable style roofs due to the fact that these can be installed on each side of the house.

A drawback of gable vents is that sometimes, air will not properly flow through the house correctly. Other parts of the roof can impede this, such as peaks, valleys or beams.

Benefits of Exterior Roof Vents

As we stated above, exterior roof ventilation is essential for the structure of your home and essential for any roof system. By placing the proper ventilation, they will immediately start working throughout the year, no matter the weather or time.

Keeping your house properly ventilated helps to give your house additional years down the road and extends their life. During summer months, the attic can heat up to 130 degrees or hotter. Your selected roof vents let air circulation do its job and help push hot air out. Your roof and attic will feel more refreshing and be cool as a result. The shingles sitting on top of your roof are ventilating properly and will not heat up or receive any damage. Studies have shown that the heat from an overheated attic can cause shingles to crack, split or curl when exposed to these conditions.

In fact, the life span of your roof can be reduced to one third if these conditions are kept. Having a proper ventilation system will also help cut down the air conditioning costs by an average of  30-40% when compared to a house with no ventilation or a faulty ventilation system.

two story house roof vent types installed

How Many Roof Vents Do You Need?

A good rule of thumb for roof vents is to install one vent for every 300 square feet of your roof. It also depends if a vapor barrier is in place as well. Without a vapor barrier, its best to install a roof vent for every 150 square feet. The installation of your roof vents should also take into account that half of the roof vents should are used for air intake and the remaining half for the exhaust. For example, a 3,000 square-foot house with a moisture barrier installed in the roof needs approximately 10 square feet of roof vents.

Some Signs of Improper Ventilation

Look out for these types of subtle signs, if you spot any of these then its a good idea to contact a local roofer for help.

Some signs to look out for are:
  • Sharp increases in heating and cooling bills, but the home is still kept around similar temperatures as before
  • The appearance of your roof looks wavy or rippled, this can be due to moisture getting to the decking and causing damage
  • Water stains starting to appear on your attic or walls
  • HVAC repairs are more constant, due to the heating and cooling equipment having to work more
  • Rust appearing on materials in your attic like light fixtures, HVAC systems, or electrical boxed
  • Increase in allergy symptoms amongst you or your family members. This can be due to mold and fungi spores that are flowing though your air supply

Any of these signs let you know something is wrong. When checking on these signs, the first thing to keep in mind is safety. When getting on your roof, be mindful of where you step, there could be some soft decking and it could be dangerous to walk on it. We recommend to take a look from a distance, preferably the ground level of your house. Use a drone or binoculars to look at your roof instead.

When checking on the interior side, head to the attic and make sure that the room is well-lit and your know where you are stepping on.

About Oscar Roofing Exteriors

There are different types of exterior systems that can go in your home. The most important factors to remember are determining where to install them and which ones are most compatible and will get the best job done for the interior and exterior of your home. This is what makes a successful custom roof vent installation. The number of exterior roof vents and their placement depend of course on the size of your home and square footage of your attic. When determining installing a new roof over your head, your roofing contractor will be able to let you know and even advice on the proper amount of vents that should be installed.

We hope that this article provides plenty of information and can help ease the choices between the ventilation systems available. When looking for expert advice on the best types of ventilation systems, do not hesitate to contact us. With our complementary free inspections, we are able to provide the best insight available.

With more than 20 years of experience and with three different office locations, Oscar Roofing has installed close to all types of mint vent systems available in the market. We’d love to provide an estimate highlighting our services and provide our expertise to homeowners in Bloomington, Fishers, Carmel and Indianapolis. Need a replacement or repair? Contact Oscar Roofing today for additional information.