Roof Ventilation In
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Roof Ventilation Systems, Types & More
Roof ventilation is an essential part of energy efficiency – but sometimes vents fail, they’re installed improperly, or they’re not the right style for your home or commercial building. When air can’t circulate properly, hot air and moisture get trapped in your attic or between the roof deck and the roof itself. That leads to spikes in energy bills, the development of ice dams on the roof, and a number of other problems that are totally preventable. Different roof ventilation types provide different results (and create various problems). Here’s what you need to know.
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How Do You Know if Your Roof is Properly Vented?
When your roof vents aren’t working properly, or if your roof is missing adequate ventilation, you’ll see some signs. Use these tips to check how well your roof ventilation system is working:
Look at your roof. If you don’t see vents on the roof or in the eaves (the edges of the roof that overhang the face of a wall), you probably need to call our home roofing experts out to have a look. Some roof ventilation types are tough to see, especially from the ground, so you may need to go into the attic to check.
Touch your ceiling when it’s warm outside and the sun is shining. If your ceiling is warm to the touch – or worse, hot to the touch – it means that your attic is trapping all kinds of heat. That means your energy bills are on the rise, too, and your shingles are at risk because they’re getting heat from both sides.
Inspect your attic during winter. If you see frost, or any type of dampness, for that matter, it’s possible that warm air is escaping your living space and condensing on the rafters or roof sheathing in your attic. Even if that’s not the case, you need to talk to our home roofing experts – moisture should never be in your attic.
Check for thick ridges of ice on your eaves in the winter. While we have a warmer climate than most, we still get snow and ice. If ice is forming ridges on your eaves, it’s a sign that warm air is seeping up from the house and into the attic or between the roof deck and the roof. When that happens, snow melts and re-freezes, creating ice dams – and ice dams can cause a tremendous amount of damage to your home.
Sometimes it’s about more than improper installation, though. In some cases, roof damage can extend to your vents. That damage can result from storms, heavy winds, fallen branches and other debris – or even from damaged gutters.
If you suspect that your roof vents aren’t working the way they should, or if you think you have one of the roof ventilation types that’s outdated and inefficient, call our team of local roofing experts today. We will be happy to inspect your roof and see what’s wrong.
Where Do Vents Work Best?
Roof vents belong near the roof’s peak. Soffit vents in the eaves are necessary, too. They work together to ventilate the space above your home. Air flows in through the soffit vents and out through the roof vents as it heats up.
Roof Ventilation Types
There are several roof ventilation types, including:
- Box vents
- Wind turbines
- Power vents
- Ridge vents
- Off ridge vents
- Cupola vents
- Soffit vents
Each of these vent types provides its own set of benefits – but not all types are right for every building. For example, you’d only use a cupola vent if you had a cupola. Here’s a closer look at all the roof ventilation types so you know what’s available when you hire our home roofing experts to work on your home.
Box vents are some of the most popular – and simple – roof ventilation types you’ll come across. They’re also called low profile vents, louvers, flat vents and turtle vents.
These types of vents are static. That means they don’t have any complicated moving parts. You’ll often see them in older homes (partly because when those homes were built, that was the only technology available). They’re installed over a hole cut in the roof, and they serve one purpose: to utilize natural convection to pull rising hot air and moisture from your attic or the space between your roof deck and the roof itself.
Box vents should be installed as close to the roof ridge as possible – that way, more hot air and moisture can escape from them. However, even when box vents are in the right place, they’re not as effective as some of their counterparts. That means you need more of them than you would if you used other roof ventilation types.
Wind turbines have moving parts, but they’re not motorized. Instead, they rely on the wind for movement. These roof vents, which you often see on commercial buildings, move a lot more air than box vents do. However, they do so when the wind is blowing; during still weather, they’re essentially performing the same work as a box vent would.
If you choose to install wind turbines, we recommend that you look at all your options and talk to our roofing contractors about what kinds of these roof ventilation types are best for your space. Lower-quality wind turbines can eventually make a squeaking sound that you can hear in your house, while higher-quality models feature plastic bushings or permanently lubricated ball bearings in their spinning mechanisms.
Power vents, which are commonly called PAVs (that’s an acronym for power attic vents), work via motors. These motorized vents turn large fans that suck hot air and moisture out of the attic, and you may see them on restaurants, factories and other commercial buildings, as well as on some homes. Many of these types of roof vents come with built-in thermostats that, once the air reaches a certain temperature, flip the switch for the fan. Some even detect humidity levels and turn on automatically when the humidity gets too high.
A lot of power vents are wired right into a home or business’s electrical system, although there are solar-powered models available. Usually, these roof vents are very quiet while operating – but that can be a bad thing, too. Some homeowners and business owners don’t know when they stop working because they’re so quiet, so we recommend that if you choose these types of vents, you get them inspected every 6 months.
Ridge vents are static – they don’t have moving parts. They’re V-shaped, and they go on a roof’s ridgeline to cover air holes. Typically, they run across the entire ridgeline, and they’re designed to blend right into the roof.
As far as efficiency goes, ridge vents combined with soffit vents are the best in the business. They allow an even distribution of temperature across an entire roof. (Other roof ventilation types often create hot and cold spots on a roof’s surface, which results in faster aging in some places.)
These roof ventilation systems don’t require wind to work, and they don’t rely on electricity or solar power, either. They simply expel warm, damp air after soffit vents pull in cooler, drier air. Because hot air rises, these vents give it an easy escape route – and because they’re located along a roof’s ridgeline, they cover all the highest points where this hot, damp air collects.
Off Ridge Vents
Off ridge vents, which a lot of people mistake for box vents, are static. They go on a cut section on the roof near, but not on, the ridge. They’re not square like box vents are, though. Instead, they’re narrow and rectangular.
These types of roof vents do let hot, damp air out of your attic (or out of the space between the roof deck and the roof), which is absolutely necessary for the life of your roof. However, they’re not the most efficient systems – and even small roofs need several of them to provide adequate ventilation. If you have too few off ridge vents, moisture can build up in your attic and cause significant damage. Additionally, the space they’re supposed to vent can get exceedingly hot on sunny summer days, which can heat the inside of your home and send your energy bills through the roof (literally).
Cupola vents are usually decorative – they don’t actually function. However, in some homes and commercial buildings, they do function. Cupolas are usually on top of high ridges, and they frame an opening in the roof where hot air and moisture can escape. Even cupola vents that do function don’t provide a lot of air movement, though. They’re usually coupled with other roof ventilation types to ensure adequate air flow. As far as roof ventilation types go, cupola vents are some of the least-frequently used.
Soffit vents, at least from an efficiency standpoint, are absolutely necessary in most homes and commercial buildings. Our home roofing experts install soffit vents in the underside of your home’s eaves – the parts of the roof that hang over the walls of your home – where they work hard to keep your attic’s air cool and dry.
Many builders only install ventilation systems that involve soffit vents and ridge vents. That’s because they don’t rely on wind or electricity, and because they’re highly efficient.
Soffit vents pull fresh, cool and dry outside air into your attic. The cool air heats up slowly, and as it does, it rises and gathers moisture. When it reaches the highest point it can, it escapes through the ridge vents (or other types of vents installed in the roof).
Think of soffit vents and ridge vents working together like opposing windows. On a warm day, you might open a window in the living room and open the front door to create a cross-breeze; one side is bringing in cooler air, while the other is allowing warmer air to escape. That’s exactly how soffit vents work with other types of vents.
How Do You Know if You Need a Different Roof Ventilation Type?
If you think your roof has ventilation problems, your first step is to investigate. Look for debris in your existing ventilation, if you can access it, and see if your attic is extremely hot or extremely cold. Check your insulation, look for mold in the attic and check for roof damage, as well. All of these things can signify ventilation problems in your attic – and if you see any of them, it’s best to call our local roofing team. We can evaluate the situation, figure out how to improve it, and give you a free estimate on the spot.
Do You Need to Talk to Our Local Roofing Team About Roof Ventilation Types for Your Home or Business?
We can help if your roof vents are inadequate, damaged or functioning poorly. Call us today to schedule an appointment – we’ll come to your home or business and inspect your roof for free, including its ventilation system, to see what needs to be done.
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