Venting Your Roof Ridge to Keep Your Roof Healthy

Roof ridge vente shown on brown shingled roof

When you are installing a new roof on your home or replacing your old one, the last thing you are probably thinking about is roof ridge vents or other ventilation systems. When I replaced my very old roof, I actually had no idea that the roof needed to have a vent. In fact, it sounded a bit oxymoronic to me. After all, wasn’t I supposed to be making sure the roof was sealed, not creating new holes in it?

Venting your roof is actually incredibly important to the health of not only the roof but your home in general. That’s also why there are a number of different ways you can do this. For instance, you can place a long vent on your roof ridge or you can place a bunch of smaller vents across the roof below the roof ridge.

The great part is that both of those types of vents are incredibly easy to install. You just need a little knowledge, the right questions to ask, and a little hands-on effort.

What Is a Roof Ridge Vent?

First, to understand what a roof ridge vent is, you should know exactly where it is. Your roof ridge is the highest point of your roof where the two sides meet. If you have a sloped roof, think of it as a triangle, the roof ridge is the top of the triangle where the two sides of your roof come together.

A roof ridge vent runs along that entire span of the roof and it is extremely important. The vent allows warm air to escape your attic. Additionally, proper attic ventilation protects your roof from excessive heat and helps reduce mold growth during the summer. In the winter, if you live in an area where it snows, the vent prevents ice dams from forming. Without a vent, those dams could cause a roof leak which would then damage the interior of your home.

These vents also help with your cooling bill during the summer.

Materials Need to Install a Roof Ridge Vent

To install your roof ridge vent, you will need a few materials:

  • Circular saw
  • Chalk
  • Shingle-over roof vent
  • Nails
  • Roof ridge cap shingles
  • Roof ridge ladder hook
  • Silicone caulk or roof cement

It’s important to note that there are a lot of different types of vents available. However, we are going to deal with the shingle-over type specifically. Also, you do not necessarily need a roof ridge ladder hook, but they do make climbing up to the ridge a lot easier.

How to Install a Roof Ridge Vent

First, you are going to want to remove any shingles already in place along the roof ridge. Once those are off, use your chalk to create an outline for your vent. When your outline is complete, use your circular saw and cut away the sheathing one to one and a half inches down the sides of the ridge. Be very careful when you do this so that you do not destroy your roof’s trusses.

After exposing the area, begin installing your ridge vents along the roof ridge. Nail the vents in place. Next, use the roof cement or caulk to seal the nails that you used to secure the vent. Also, apply any other weatherproofing that the manufacturer of the ridge vents has recommended.

After the roof ridge installation, you place the roof ridge cap shingles and secure them with nails. Make sure you weatherproof those nails as well. That’s it; you have just installed your roof ridge.

Roof Louvers

If you do not want to install a roof ridge vent, there are other types of vents out there that work in a similar fashion. Instead of installing the ridge vent, you can install roof louvers. Unlike the roof ridge vent, this is not just one continuous vent. In fact, you need several of them for proper roof ventilation.

Materials Needed to Install Roof Louvers

Like the roof ridge vent, you will need just a few things to install this type of vent:

  • Reciprocating saw
  • Nails
  • Louver vent
  • Caulk
  • Pencil or chalk

How to Install Roof Louvers

Diagram of the installation of roof vents 2 inches below the roof ridge
Image CC by NC-SA 3.0, by Wikiphoto, via WikiHow

First, figure out how many roof vents you need. We recommend that you measure the roof and place a vent that is one square foot every 150 feet. So, if your attic is 600 square feet, you will need four roof vents.

Next, space the vents evenly across your roof, make sure they are at least two feet below the roof ridge and mark the areas with a pencil. Make sure that you are not placing vents on electrical wires or rafters. Remove the shingles from the shingles from the areas where you are going to place the vents. Be careful when you do this and make sure you do not cause any unnecessary damage to your roof.

After your areas are marked and outlined, use a saw to cut holes in your roof the side of the vents. Next, loosen the shingles surrounding the hole, apply caulk to the roof vent’s flange and slide the vent under the shingles. The front of the flange, however, should be over the shingles.

Secure the vent in place with nails and caulk the nails. Finally, secure the loosened shingles properly and repeat the process for each of the vents.

Don’t Forget the Vents

Just remember: Don’t forget the roof vents. These vents, no matter if you choose the roof ridge type, the louvers or something else, will keep your roof healthy for years to come. If you are not entirely sure which type you should use, don’t be afraid to call a roofer and ask them. Even if you know that you want to install it yourself, you can call companies and ask them for estimates and find out what they recommend.

Keep in mind, although these vents are relatively easy to install, you are still working on a roof. Use extreme caution any time you walk on your roof to ensure that you do not fall.

If you have already installed roof vents, let us know what type of vent you went with, in the comment section below.


Featured image: CC0, by Markus53, via Pixabay


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