The attic getting too hot or too cold during summer or winter can be a serious issue down the lane but fortunately, we have roof vents to fix the consequences of extreme temperature changes. Different roofs can call for different roof vents but all of them have the same purpose: good roof airflow.
However, there are many types of roof vents, and it is important that you choose the right one. In this post, the types of roof vents are featured. It includes both exhaust and intake vents for a more versatile choice. If you are looking for roof vents for your home, read on.
Related: Parts Of a Roof
What are roof vents?
Roof vent, which is actually a shortcut for roof ventilation, is a system which allows good airflow in the attic. They are an essential part of the roofing system. Its main function is not to let the roof overheat during the summer or moisture buildup during winter.
Wrong roof vent installation can cost you a lot in terms of health risks and structural damage. Some of the consequences of wrong roof vent installation would be the buildup of ice dams, molds, and a really huge electric bill.
Benefits of roof vents
Roof vents, as have been mentioned, are essential parts of the roof system and the entire home in general. However, most homeowners do not even know how important they are, pushing them not to have one installed. To provide clarity to how roof vents are essential, here are four of their key benefits to the home.
Gives extra layer of protection
It seeps in cool air into the roof/attic through intake vents and lets go of the more humid and warmer air through the exhaust vents. As such, it prevents overheating in the summer and ice dams in the winter.
Offers cost efficiency
Without the cool airflow that it delivers especially during hotter seasons, your AC and fans must work double the job which also means that you would have to pay more for the electric bill.
Increase roof’s lifespan
Attic overheating is a serious case. When such happens, the shingles and other underlayment dry up and then eventually crack. Aside from this, talk about a shrunk roof interior and how much it costs in the long run.
Prevents structural damage
Roof vents also function to deter moisture buildup. When the roof gets too moist plus the hot, humid air that rises, you would expect molds to be there anytime soon. Not having an exhaust vent to help melt ice dams can also have a massive impact on the integrity of the home’s structure.
Types of roof vents
As we all know, there are two types of roof vents: the exhaust vent and the intake vent. And when it comes to their function, it follows just one important principle: exhaust vents take the stale air out while intake vents bring the fresh air in. So, let us look at the different types of roof vents available for you to consider for your home.
Types of Exhaust Vents
Exhaust vents work by pulling out moist or humid hot air out of the attic or roof to attain good air circulation in the home. They are installed in the roof system and come in many types. Each has their own aesthetic and practical function.
1. Wind turbines (Whirlybird ventilation)
This is one of the most identifiable and oldest types of exhaust vents out there. It is entirely dependent on air movement and not electricity. As it spins, the hot or stale air seeps out.
It is still one of the best exhaust vent choices for windy locations. It needs at least 5MPH to be operated. Aside from this, it is also durable and inexpensive compared to the other types of exhaust vents.
2. Power vents
They are also called electric powered attic vents and come in two types: the hardwired power roof vent and the solar powered roof vent. They are usually mounted on the roof or in the gable.
They are smaller, more low profile and are easier to blend with the home’s aesthetics. Power vents run on a fan, pushing hot and humid air out. While it can be pricey, its noiseless operation and efficiency is worth the shot.
3. Hardwired power roof vents
This is the most common power roof vent. It is directly connected to the home’s wire, specifically attached to the thermostat but on the other hand, it can also be operated manually through a switch. It is typically paired with an intake vent. When it comes to hardwired, its best fit would be the soffit vent.
Because they automatically push air out when it is needed, they are a good catch. But the downside for this one is that it makes the AC less efficient, and it could dent monthly electric bills.
4. Solar-powered roof vents
As the term suggests, this one is powered by solar energy. They are attached to a solar panel so basically, it is the sun’s rays that are charging the roof vent. They come in many styles, and they can be mounted on the roof or by the gable.
If you are somewhere very sunny, this is the exhaust vent for you but note that they are not as efficient as hardwired power roof vents when it comes to pushing air out.
5. Off-ridge vents
This is a lesser-known vent type. Like box vents, off-ridge vents need a cutout in the roof (which is usually near the roof’s ridge, hence the name) during installation. The purpose of this vent is to seep out moist, hot air out of the attic.
The disadvantage of this, however, is that it is low in coverage. To fully have an efficient exhaust for the home, you must install more of these in the entire roof.
6. Box vents
If you have seen that black, shiny box sitting atop the roof (where people even sit on sometimes for some chill time), that is what we call the box vent. This type of vent is not powered by electricity and is perfect for open attic plans.
They are also the best combo for a soffit intake vent. Like the off-ridge vent, it does not cover a lot of space, so you need to install more if you have a large home.
7. Ridge vents
It is the most recent innovation when it comes to exhaust vents. They are specially designed to be installed on a sloped roof’s peak making them practically invisible. In terms of benefits, you can count on this roof vent to provide even airflow instead of the usual venting on just specific areas.
While they are pricey, they are cost efficient in the long run. You must note however, that this vent type is not the best option for those with soffit intake vents.
8. Cupola vents
This one is a vent type that is older than wind turbines. You would see them in Spanish or Mediterranean home designs and in church convents.
They are large, installed in the roof’s ridge, and because of its shed-like design with side holes allow air to continually pass through them. Compared to other vent types, they are relatively expensive. But for some aesthetic flair, this is a viable choice.
9. Hip vents
This one highly resembles a box vent. It is pyramid shaped and is attached to hip roofs, hence, the name. Specifically, they are placed in the hip’s seams where they are then covered with shingles.
They are highly effective and low profile, so you do not have to worry about how they blend with your home’s design. To be more cost effective, it must be combined with a soffit vent.
Types of Intake Vents
Intake vents on the other hand functions by pulling the hot air in and then cycling it to another vent system (exhaust vents) to create cooler airflow inside the home. Here are the most popular types of intake vents to check out.
10. Gable intake vents
This type of intake vent takes a triangular shape and is installed at the peak of the roof’s gables. While they are efficient, they need to be enforced with screens to prevent insects from niching on. Aside from this, they do not offer that much coverage unless your home has multiple gables.
11. Soffit vents
This is a stylish intake vent that is typically installed underneath an eave or under a peak. It is made of a mesh-like, flexible material which allows hot and humid air to be seeped out through an exhaust vent. It is the best intake vent for hardwired power roof vent, box vents, ridge vent and hip vents. It is cost effective and really does the job.
12. Drip-edge vents
Drip-edge vents were created for easier installation since not all homes have a room where the soffit vent can be installed. They are mounted on the roof’s drip-edge, with a netted design to ensure cool airflow.
It is the best intake vent for compact spaces with a drip-edge but without extra room. It works better with an exhaust vent and its main downside would be it is harder to install than the others.
13. Over fascia vents
This one is the best combination for a hip roof. If there is no edge or eaves to attach a vent to, this type of intake vent is the best choice. Over fascia vents are more efficient in cooling roofs with a wider area.
FAQs on Roof Vents
Aside from the types of roof vents that we have listed here, there are also certain FAQs that you must be acquainted with to make the most out of your roof vent installation.
Why do we need roof vents?
As we have since established, without roof vents, you are allowing attic overheating. Too much exposure to heat cracks the shingles and other damages. Aside from that, too hot roofs also add to the hot air circulation in the home which can be damaging to health and other appliances that we rely on when it is too hot.
How many roof vents should you have?
As per rule of thumb, one vent can suffice for 300sq.ft. roof area if the home has an existing vapor barrier. If it does not have one, it should be one vent per 150sq.ft. This is an essential thing to know because you cannot have too much or too less to cover the roof area.
Do I need an attic fan if I have a ridge vent?
If the ridge is long enough and if there are enough ridge vents installed to cover the attic, or if there is ample space at the roof’s base for soffit vents to be installed, you would not need an attic fan.
Which is better: ridge vent or roof vent?
Experts would say that ridge vents are better compared to roof vents because of three specific reasons. One is in terms of location. Since they are installed at the highest peak possible, they can accommodate more humid air to be released.
Second is in terms of length. Continuous ridge vents can offer the largest air opening at once. Third would be their appearance. Because they are installed along the roof’s ridge line, they blend well with the home’s design.
How much are roof vents?
Roof vent installation can cost in between $300-800 including materials and labor costs. But of course, the definite cost of the roof vent still depends on the type, number of units needed and the size of the roof vent to be installed.
Just to give a specific figure, an average ridge vent can cost in between $300-650. Solar powered on the other hand would cost $200-800 while hardwired power roof vents would be at $100-700 and cupola exhaust vents would be at $100-550.
Where to place roof vents?
To make sure that the roof vents do their job for the home, intake roof vents should be installed on the lower parts of the roof like the eaves or hips while exhaust vents should be mounted on higher parts of the roof, usually near the peak.
How far apart should roof vents be installed?
Another rule of thumb to follow is the spacing in between multiple roof vents. By installation principle, there should be at least one square foot of space for every 150sq.ft. of attic area.
Can a roof have too much ventilation?
There are also problems that come with over ventilation so you must be wary about how much roof vents that should be installed in the roof system. Its most imminent danger would be an increase in electricity bills. The second problem would be the onset of more moisture collection. Moisture weakens certain spots in the structure and then leaks will come next.
How do you know if the attic is properly vented?
There are ways to check this out and it would be the following:
- Check the ceiling during the hottest time of the day. If it feels like an oven up there, your roof vent is not doing its job.
- During winter, spot if there is a thick ice buildup in the eaves. If by some chance there is, it means that the snow is not melted by the exhaust fan.
- Inspect your attic in winter. If there is moisture or ice buildup there, the roof vent is also not working.
Does spray roof foam need to be vented?
A spray foam installed as a roof deck underlayment is one of the best air-impermeable insulation materials for the roof system. Its function is to stop all air movement. Because of this, the air rising to the attic becomes cooler so there is really no need for you to have roof vents when you have already installed a spray roof foam.
Can roof vents get clogged?
Yes. And you would know that it is clogged when one of these three things happen. One, when the drains in the home are so slow at their supposed job. Two, when there are bubbles in the toilet right after you flush it. Three, when the sewage is starting to smell or if the entire perimeter of the home is smelling foul.
How does a roof vent help in plumbing?
This one is such an underrated function of a roof vent. Most homeowners do not know that the fresh air circulated by the roof vent helps in the water flow going through the drain pipes. Specifically, the roof vent channels the exhaust gases out so that the right amount of atmospheric pressure gets into the sewage or waste system.
Can two different exhaust vents be used at the same time?
Nope. Using them at the same time may result in short circuiting the entire attic ventilation system. When it goes under short circuit, you are risking roof vent efficiency and you are making it more vulnerable to weather-induced damages.
Roof vents are more essential than how they seem to be. They are strategic in maintaining good air circulation in the home, seep out those excess fumes and make the space cooler especially during harsh summers and circulate warmer, more humid air during winter. There are different types of roof vents and for that reason you must make a calculated choice about what to get.
Note that there are specific roof vent combos that would do the job better if they are together. At best, you also must take note of other considerations like cost, efficiency, durability, and performance. With all things considered, having a roof vent is always worth the shot if you know which ones are the best fit for your home.