A robust roof ventilation system doesn’t just extend the life of your roof; it can lower your home’s energy bills and make your house a healthier place to live. Different types of roof vents exist, but each type has the basic task of increasing air circulation through the attic.
So, which type of roof vent is best for your home?
Every home is different.
The best vents for your roof will depend on many factors, including your local climate, home’s design, and architectural style. However, experts recommend not to mix different types of vents in one attic as this can prevent proper airflow in the space.
In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about roof ventilation systems. We’ll also explore the common types of roof vents to make it easier for you to find the best ventilation system for your home.
Why Roof Ventilation Is Important
Roof ventilation is essential for many reasons. Here are the three major benefits proper roof ventilation can bring to your home.
1. Extends the Life of Your Roof
Your roof’s lifespan can be anywhere from 25 years to 50 years.
Many factors impact the life of your roof, including attic ventilation and the type of roofing materials used. For instance, poor ventilation in summer can cause heat to build up, which can in turn damage the wood framings, rafters, underlayment, and more.
In winter, a poorly ventilated roof can cause ice dams to build up at the edges of your roof, causing damage to your whole roof system, your attic, and even the walls of your home. Proper ventilation can help prevent the formation of ice dams and extend the life of your roof.
2. Increases Energy Efficiency
Having a proper roof and attic ventilation can increase your energy efficiency. If warm air isn’t allowed to escape, it builds up, and your HVAC system has to work extra hard to cool the house, resulting in higher electric bills.
A properly ventilated house, on the other hand, reduces the workload on your HVAC system. A system that’s running less means lower energy bills.
3. Reduces Indoor Temperature Extremes
Proper roof ventilation allows hot air to escape and cool air to enter the space. This keeps the indoor temperature in check, making your home more comfortable all year round.
What Happens if My Roof Is Not Vented?
A lack of ventilation can cause many problems in and around your home. These may include:
- Poor indoor air quality in summer due to dead air in the attic space
- Dry rot of roof sheathing
- Ice dams in winter months
- Overburdened HVAC systems resulting in high energy bills
- Warped wood and walls
- Shorter roof lifespan
- Extreme high temperatures in summer
While a lack of roof and attic ventilation may appear insignificant in the grand scheme of things, it can prove costly down the line.
The Different Types of Roof Vents: Active vs. Passive
There are two types of attic ventilation systems.
- Active ventilation
- Passive ventilation
Active ventilation systems provide air circulation in indoor spaces using mechanical fans. The common types of active vents are:
1. Power Vents
These types of roof vents operate on electric power.
Also known as electric-powered attic vents, power vents feature a low-profile dome and are usually installed near the roof’s ridge.
These vents use a thermostat and/or humidistat to monitor and control moisture and heat buildup inside the attic. When connected to a thermostat, these vents can automatically turn on and off depending on the indoor temperature.
2. Solar-Powered Vents
As the name suggests, solar-powered vents are operated by the power of the sun, making them cost-effective and energy-efficient solutions.
Studies show that solar vents can cut your energy bills by as much as 30%.
However, solar vents are more expensive than traditional models (a single fan will set you back $600 in most markets). Plus, solar vents require direct sunlight to operate. They might not operate without direct sunlight as the panels don’t keep a charge for long.
3. Turbine Vents
Turbine vents—also known as whirlybirds—are roof vents that rely on wind to spin a turbine. These devices rotate to push out hot air in warm months and moist air in cold months.
Turbine vents employ a drawing effect that allows air in your attic to be moved even when there is no wind. As long as they’re installed properly, turbine vents can move air in your attic around 10 – 12 times per hour.
Passive vents allow for the natural flow of air without the aid of motorized fans. They have no motors, fans, or moving parts and require less maintenance than their active counterparts.
Here are the three common types of passive roof vents.
1. Static Vents
As the name suggests, static vents are a type of vents where no moving parts are required to move the air in the attic.
These vents allow for nominal ventilation of hot and humid air from the roof space without the need for power or wind. They rely on the natural movement of air, such as that created by temperature and pressure differentials, to work.
Often, multiple static vents are required to ventilate the attic adequately. Since they look like small boxes on your roof, static vents are also called box vents.
2. Ridge Vents Without a Baffle
A ridge vent is a type of vent installed across the ridge of a roof.
These vents allow warm and humid air to escape a building’s attic when installed. Since ridge vents run along the length of the roof peak, they provide an even distribution of air—something no other roof vent can match.
However, ridge vents with no baffles aren’t the best option since they allow debris, insects, snow, and rain to enter your attic.
3. Gable End Vents
Gable end vents are usually installed on the exterior of your attic walls to provide passive ventilation. These vents rely on wind to move the air in and out of the attic.
How to Tell if Your Roof Is Well Ventilated
As mentioned earlier, proper ventilation of the roof and attic is essential to the comfort of your home and the lifespan of your roof.
But, how do you determine whether your roof is properly ventilated? Here are tell-tale signs your roof isn’t well ventilated.
- Your electricity bills are higher than usual
- Your attic feels hot and humid
- The temperature inside the house is extreme
- Presence of ice dams during winter
- Visible damage from moisture inside the home
If you notice one or more of these signs, you may want to check your roof and attic ventilation or contact an HVAC expert.
Proper roof ventilation is critical as it regulates your home’s indoor air temperature, lowers your energy bills, and improves the lifespan of your roof.
While different types of roof vents exist, the best roof ventilation system for your home is the one that aligns with your unique needs (price, location, taste) and matches your home’s design for improved curb appeal.
If you need assistance in evaluating whether your roof has a ventilation issue or determining the best roof vent for your home, get in touch with us today or schedule a free consultation. Our professional roofing consultants can help you find the best solution for your needs.