At Home: Properly installed ridge vents help ventilate attic

Areas of soffit and ridge vents must be balanced

Q: We are having a new roof installed, and they said they would put on a vent at the top of the roof. The vent would be the full length of the roof, and they said it was part of the price we are paying for the roof replacement. I was doing research and found your article about a ridge vent and how it may not always be a good idea. Is this something I should bring to the attention of the roofing company?

A: Yes, homeowners should always be informed about a company or a product before signing a contract for work to be done on their home. A ridge vent is an excellent form of attic ventilation when installed properly.

Most homes have an overhang for the roof called a soffit. When a ridge vent is installed, there also must be an equal area of venting at the soffits. If you don’t have the correct amount of soffit vents, this could be an extra unplanned cost to correct.

The square feet of free venting at the soffits must be equal in area to that of the ridge vent. Free venting is the area of the vent that isn’t covered with screening or other obstructions to air flow.

A piece of 12-by-12-inch vented soffit material, or 1 square foot, only has around 9 square inches of free venting. Likewise, a foot-long piece of ridge vent has about 9 square inches of free venting. If the soffit and ridge vents are not balanced, the attic could be hot in the summer and have higher humidity in the winter.

During high winds and rain, an unbalanced ridge vent has been known to draw moisture into the attic space. The soffit-to-ridge venting must be balanced, and this means there shouldn’t be other roof vents, gable vents, cupolas or turbine vents open to the attic space.

Ask the roofer for the ridge vent manufacturer’s name and then look for product information on the manufacturer’s website.

While inspecting attics with what appears to be a balanced ventilation system, I have on occasion noticed the roof’s decking wasn’t cut open to allow the ridge vent to function properly or the soffit vents were blocked by attic insulation. If you aren’t able to inspect the ridge vent opening or to calculate the ridge-to-soffit venting ratio, then it would be wise to hire an unbiased third party, such as a home inspector, to inspect the completed work and issue a written report for your records.

When you are satisfied that the work is fully completed, you can then pay the final installment on the contract you have with the roofer.

C. Dwight Barnett is a certified master inspector with the American Society of Home Inspectors. Write to him with home improvement questions at C. Dwight Barnett, Evansville Courier &Press, P.O. Box 268, Evansville, Ind. 47702 or d.Barnett@insightbb.com.


C. Dwight Barnett is a certified master inspector with the American Society of Home Inspectors. Write to him with home improvement questions at C. Dwight Barnett, Evansville Courier & Press, P.O. Box 268, Evansville, Ind. 47702 or d.Barnett@insightbb.com.


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