How to Select Roof Vents

Roof vents are a type of building material used to ventilate attics and ceiling areas. These vents help keep the home comfortable, and also play a role in improving the home’s energy efficiency levels. Because of moisture and humidity build-up, a poorly ventilated roof will often have a shorter lifespan than one that is properly ventilated. When choosing vents for your roof, look for intake units that bring in fresh air, as well as exhaust vents that eliminate stale air. Consider factors such as roof design, vent operation and appearance to find the best roof vents for your home.

Understand the different types of roof vents. Passive vents work naturally due to air pressure changes, or as the wind blows. Fan-powered vents transfer larger amounts of air, and may work better in areas where there is little wind, or for homes that require large amounts of ventilation.

Determine how many vents you need. According to Reader’s Digest, homeowners will need about one square foot of roof ventilation for every 150 square feet of attic space. You can use a few large vents or multiple smaller units to meet this guideline.

Think about the possibility of leaks. Vents that are installed within the roof itself, such as static (eyebrow) units, pose a more serious risk for leaks than vents installed along the gables or soffits. If you must install vents within the roof itself, make sure the vent has integral flashing that can be easily tied into the existing roof system.

Consider the effectiveness of each type of vent. Because hot air rises to the highest point of the roof, ridge vents tend to be the most effective. Gable vents, which are located in the walls at either end of a gabled roof, are fairly ineffective at removing warm air.

Compare appearance options. According to Schindler Roofing, low-profile static or eyebrow vents tend to be the least obtrusive and most visually appealing. Turbines and fans are highly visible and can negatively impact the roof’s appearance. Tombstone-style vents are another attractive option, but these vents work best on steeply-sloped roofs.

Decide whether you want your vents to be screened. Screens keep out insects and other pests, but may reduce ventilation effectiveness. If pest control is a priority, choose screened units, but add additional vents to ensure the attic is properly ventilated.

Select materials that can hold up against severe weather. Galvanized and stainless steel units can withstand rain and high levels of moisture. Avoid non-galvanized steel, which may rust.


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