Just like humans, their houses need to breathe too. Roof structure, air ventilation, and an appropriate attic temperature of a house are the most important areas that need constant maintenance and thought. Especially the attic, this specific area of a house is most prone to poor air circulation, moisture accumulation, molds, elevated temperature from hot roof decking, warm and cold spots, or general deterioration of shingles.
These factors can speed up the normal wear and tear process to the extent of permanent damage or high repair costs. You may go up to the attic only once or twice a year for occasional shenanigans or to fetch Christmas decorations and you probably don’t stay long enough to ponder what goes on up there throughout the year. And why would you? It’s not the habitable part of your house, nobody goes/lives up there so why bother. Well, the attic is as much a part of your house as any other and requires proper all-year maintenance.
Attics are airtight, it’s the place where all the heat and moisture builds up from the house and if not taken care of, it can cause numerous easily avoidable problems.
Improving the airflow in the attic will lower down the temperature, let damp or warm air out and boost the house’s overall energy efficiency, and prolongs the roof’s life. The cost of cooling down a hothouse and heating a cold one every day takes a serious toll on utility bills, not to forget what silent yet continuous side effects of poor ventilation will do to your pocket.
The solution to all these problems is investing in a good air ventilation system. A system that continuously removes musty air out and pulls fresh air in to create a good airflow. There are several kinds of vents like Cupola vents and Powered vents, Gable vents, Soffit vents, and Ridge vents, etc.
In the majority of the cases, it is recommended to create a strategically placed combination of soffit vents and ridge vents. Soffit vents are installed on the bare underside of the roof and since these are downward-facing they help reducing moisture build-up within the roof and suck fresh air inside whereas Ridge vents are installed at the peak/ridge of the roof and help hot air exit from the attic. So, soffit vents are ideal for intake and Ridge vents for exhaust.
Although ridge vents need a passive airflow to do their best, if that is not possible with your roof type, they still perform a satisfactory job. And above all both these vents merge so well with the roof and eaves, it’s hardly noticeable. Ridge vents give a sleek touch to your house’s appearance. Now before we get to the question of the worthiness of ridge vents, let’s first find out the answers to some questions that every house enthusiast has about a new installment.
How Ridge Vents Actually Work?
Ridge vents work on an all-natural mechanism requiring no external energy input to work. These vents are installed, more like placed as an upside-down open book, on the peaks of sloped roofs at a certain height and create sufficient “Venturi Effect” (negative pressure) that lets hot and humid air from the attic escape outside to ensure a fresh, airy attic at all times.
The purpose is to bring in the outside air and let out the stagnant, humid inside air, in simple words create a smooth flow of air from inside to outside and vice versa. What happens is that hot or warm air rises by the laws of nature from inside the room and makes its way out of the ridge vent and resultantly pulls in cool, heavier air from below.
Ridge vents work best in combination with an already established ventilation system in place that can forcibly push hot air towards them. Ridge vents don’t create the required vacuum effect on their own and that is why they need a little assistance to work efficiently. This is often done through soffit vents or a powered whole-house ventilation system through fans.
Note that this vertical ventilation system created by ridge vents only works if there is no horizontal system of air circulation already in place because when together, they cancel out each other, and you’re left with a stuffy air-tight attic after all. Usually, ridge vents and their placement is planned and furnished with the house’s blueprints by an architect according to the ventilation needed for that particular house but can be added or subtracted if there arises a dire need.
How Is a Ridge Vent Installed?
Ridge vents are also known as continuous vents as they run along the roof’s length. These vents are low-profile and do not necessarily interrupt the roofline. Before we get into the physics of it, the two primary kinds of ridge vents are shingle-over vents and aluminum vents.
The shingle-over ridge vent (the recommended type) is hardly noticeable in the house’s structure as it blends well with the roof. These shingle-over vents are installed over the roof’s ridge and are covered by an asphalt shingle cap that matches with the rest of the roof shingles. The aluminum vents are mushroom-shaped and they “sit” on the top of the roof shingles. These aluminum caps do no need asphalt shingles caps on the ridge.
Now if you know how to handle your tools atop a roof and don’t get anxious from heights, you can pull this task all by yourself. It’s not an easy one, agreed, but with proper fall-arresting equipment, ladders, and proper tools it is quite manageable. Otherwise, you can always call a professional to handle all the roof work.
Firstly, the shingle caps already in place are removed by loosening the two nails in each ridge cap by inserting a flat pry bar under the ridge cap to lift it. When the nails get loose, pry them out and remove the cap. Now you need to cut back the shingles by 3 inches, or as recommended by the manufacturer of the vent you’re installing. You’ll expose the roof decking after you remove all the underlayment or felt paper from the ridge.
Now mark either side of the roof ridge about an inch from the peak with chalk. Cut this decking along the chalk line on either side of the ridge board or ridge pole to create a minimum 1-inch gap that will allow airflow into the vent. If it’s a truss-framed roof with no ridge board present then the gap should be at least 1-inch from both of the sides.
Then you need to secure the rest of the decking by driving new 8d nails into the roof trusses or rafters below. Make sure you use a circular saw and adjust the depth of its blade so that it cuts only the decking and doesn’t end up cutting the rafters and trusses below it. If you’re cutting a standard roof through its 5-8 inches decking, set the blade’s cutting depth to 3-4 inches.
After removing the extra pieces place the ridge vent along the peak and nail it to the decking on both sides. Install the asphalt shingle caps above the shingle-over ridge vents using nails which the manufacturer recommends. And voila! You have installed unnoticeable ridge vents successfully.
What If You Don’t Get One?
It’s quite natural to wonder if these ridge vents are even a valuable inclusion in a house’s structure. What could happen at most if you don’t plan proper airflow through the house? In residential roofs, the attic underneath the shingled roof may have some cool spots and some hot ones.
Frost forming on the underside of the roof causes condensation and increases moisture in the air of the attic which can eventually start dripping/leaking through the roof to the house. This water and moisture when stays on to the walls creates irreversible damage to the whole structure of the house. Not to forget mold, paint damage, and wood expansion that ultimately makes the structure lose its strength and stiffness. This also affects roof joists and flooring a great deal.
In extreme winters or summers, your possessions resting peacefully in the attic may be at risk. In transitioning seasons, the attic can become highly, humid and stuffy due to the combination of hot air and water condensation, which ultimately increases the temperature down in the house and the air conditioning costs. Installing ridge vents helps to improve the airflow in and out of the attic which eliminates moisture and prevents hot and cold spots in the attic area.
A cooler upper space reflects on the energy efficiency of the house. The need to run air conditioners or fans all the time will significantly reduce. So, it is safe to say that every house with an attic needs proper ventilation to keep it safe from several long-term issues.
Are They Really Worth It?
Coming to the real question, are ridge vents worth the investment? Ridge vents are the most cost-effective and effective roof vents available according to a majority of roofing experts. They serve the purpose without putting holes into your roof for turbines or other ventilation systems.
Yes, they do work the best with soffit vents, which again, requires no hole in the wall or the roof. Even without another ventilation system in place, ridge vents work just fine enough to keep damaging factors of nature away from home. These vents are functional all year long and blend perfectly with the roof to keep the house aesthetically pleasing.
It is the simplest way to circulate air through the attic while avoiding long-term repair costs. Though you are opening a part of your attic for fresh air, you’re not necessarily inviting any unwanted intrusions.
They come with weather stripping or external baffles (blinders that hinder the outside air from crossing the vent) that continuously deflect snow, rain, heavy winds, or wind-borne dust, leaves, dirt, or debris. Some also block rodents and insects from crawling inside with mesh screens. Ridge vents are specially designed to keep musty air out along with precipitation.
The best way to determine whether you should or should not get ridge vents is to think of things that would happen if you don’t get one. Neglecting a home, especially an attic, maintenance will cost way more than investing once in a good ventilation system for your house. In present times, many of us spend a sufficient part of our day indoors, and to keep a safe and healthy air quality indoors it is crucial to pay due attention to the air entering and leaving your house.
Installing ridge vents costs around $400-500 on average and if you’re getting them installed during the roof replacement, the cost may get lower. Price would vary and depend on the location and climate you’re in. As mentioned earlier, most roofing experts and professionals agree that the cost saved on roof repairs and energy savings after installing a ridge vent outweigh the total cost of getting the vents installed.
Ridge vents require minimum interaction by the homeowner to work all year round because they need no external power source. Unlike power vents and wind turbines, ridge vents use the natural convection of air to move air around the space.
To avoid premature aging or cracking of your roof, floorboards, and walls, you must invest inefficient ventilation. These vents will take care of a heated attic during summers and in winters it’ll help melting snow build-up away from the vents due to warm air streaming outside at all times. Note that just getting vents installed is not the goal here, proper installation is the key.
Everything needs to be planned, precisely cut, and then placed in its right spots and it’s recommended you hire a roofing contractor to examine and install the vents. Ventilation systems wield many complicated and complex laws of physics that require all the parts to work in unison and harmony. So, it’s best to leave this job to the professionals who have extensive experience and know what they are doing.
To find out more about ridge vents and their further benefits, you can check it here:-Benefits Of Having Ridge Vents On The Roof