Roof Ventilation: Making Sure It’s Right

roof ventilationOn a list of dreaded home improvements, most people would have the prospect of roof replacement somewhere near the top. In the context of a real estate transaction, the determination that a house needs a new roof is right up there with Title V failure in terms of serious setbacks. Needless to say, it pays to take good care of your home’s protective dome—starting with proper roof ventilation.

Why You Need to Vent

We all know that heat rises, which makes your attic the last stop before that heat quite literally hits the roof. If heat cannot escape, it places pressure on the uppermost interior structures of your home, ultimately damaging the shingles above them. So, much as we humans do, your roof needs the ability to let off steam for its own well-being. Roof ventilation allows for that and more.

Ironically, the effects of heat on a roof can be most problematic in colder months. That’s because, in combination with heat from the sun, heat trapped in your attic quickly melts snow and ice on your roof. The resulting runoff of water gradually refreezes to form ice dams—a frozen buildup that lurks beneath and behind the familiar icicles you see along your roof’s edge. Don’t be fooled by icicles’ glistening charm; the ice dams they hide can cause a domino effect of trouble for your roof, attic and even walls. In addition to damaging effects of heat itself, moisture carries its own insidious threats to these structures.

A proper ventilation system is critical for protecting your roof and maximizing its lifespan. Ventilation can also reduce energy costs, since releasing heat means less demand on your air conditioner and helps naturally regulate your home’s temperature year-round.

Types of Roof Ventilation

Roof ventilation is most effective as a system, with two or more mechanisms working together for an optimally vented attic. Roof venting falls under two general categories:

Exhaust Ventilation

As the name implies, exhaust venting is what allows for heat to escape. This category primarily includes:

  • Gable venting. Positioned beneath the peak of the roofline (the gable), this is the most traditional type of roof venting. While most existing homes have gable vents, they are becoming less standard with new construction as ventilation technology evolves.
  • Ridge venting. This type of venting runs along the peak of the roof, releasing heat through the very top. Today’s new roofs typically include some type of ridge venting.

Intake Ventilation

As the yin to the yang of exhaust venting, intake venting draws cool air in, completing the flow cycle needed to regulate air temperature and pressure.

Intake venting is also known as soffit venting, for its installation along the soffit—the underside of overhanging eaves. Constructed of aluminum or vinyl, soffit venting may be continuous (as a strip) or individual (as a series of openings). As modern construction typically includes installation of soffit vents, your newer home is likely to have this type of ventilation. For a home that doesn’t, they are virtually always worth the investment to add.

Whether you’re looking to build or buy, sell or stay, Boilard is your partner in keeping your home at its very best. Stop by and see us for the materials, guidance and expertise you need, all under one roof.