How to Choose the Right Roof Vents for Your Home

Roof vents are a crucial element to every home to keep it functioning properly

Roof vents are an invaluable tool for your attic or crawl space. However, selecting the best option for your home can be difficult, because there are so many variables to consider. Whether you’re using these spaces as functioning rooms, to decrease moisture levels, or to increase the lifespan of your roof, proper ventilation is crucial.

Heat and humidity rise, and hot air and water vapor get trapped in the attic. This effect also occurs in unvented bathrooms and laundry rooms. Warm air rises and gets stuck, which can cause condensation on the walls. Condensation not handled properly often leads to active mold colonies – every homeowner’s nightmare. Mold threatens the safety of your belongings, your roof, and any wallpaper or paints in the room.

The Types of Roof Vents

Different models of roof vents have their own pros and cons. Depending on what level of ventilation you need, you can install one particular type or combine them for better air distribution. Depending on your budget and investment in the house, you can choose between traditional vents or opt for more expensive models.

If you’re curious about what models are available, you can try checking with local hardware stores, roofing experts, or online retailers. However, it’s important to know what you need. In the meantime, the first step to making the right decision for you and your home is learning all that you can about the different types of vents.

Roof vent caps

Also known as box vents, a roof vent cap is a simple form of ventilation. They can come in a few different styles, but the concept is the same. The cap covers the hole in the roof, and hot air vents through the hole. Roof caps are static and have no moving parts. The highest parts of the roof are outfitted with box vents to encourage circulation throughout the attic.

Vent caps do not encourage airflow, but they are affordable and easy to install. Multiple box vents have to put on the roof for proper ventilation. To fully control the humidity and temperature of your attic, fans or dehumidifiers would be necessary. You can also use them for your sewer vent.

Roof ridge vents

Similar to box vents, ridge vents are static and have no moving parts. A roof ridge vent stretches horizontally to increase airflow and heat distribution. Hot air can rise anywhere within the attic and be safely released through the vents, thus creating a more evenly-vented home. Ridge venting can prevent issues like hot spots and uneven venting.

People with steep roofs prefer ridge systems, as ridge vents can be installed to blend in with the rest of your roof. This is an attractive option, as they don’t ruin the aesthetic of the home. You can combine roof ridge vents with other vents for maximum airflow. Many customers claim combination ridge/soffit vents are the best manual ventilation system available.

Watch the video below to learn how to install them:

Roof turbine vents

Also known as whirlybirds, these vents contain many moving parts. The wind spins the turbine, drawing moisture and hot air up out of the attic. They rely solely on wind power, hence the name “turbine vents.” They are popular in windy areas with hot summers, as they can increase air circulation in the attic without electricity.

While high-quality roof turbine vents can work quietly, some cheaper models can become noisy on windy days. When buying roof turbine vents, it’s essential to invest in a model with permanently lubricated ball bearings. Otherwise, the vents will start to squeak or become stuck.

Power vents

Power vents can come in some different styles, all at varying prices and functionality. Known as PAVs (Power Attic Vents), these models come equipped with large fans that activate to draw air out of your attic, venting out moisture and hot air accordingly. Power vents must be hardwired directly into your home’s electrical system.

Static power vent models usually run on a schedule. More expensive models have thermostats and humidistats. The fan comes on when a certain temperature/level of humidity is detected. While many homeowners swear by these models, they do require electricity and maintenance to function correctly.

Solar roof vents

Like PAV units, solar roof vents require energy to run properly. However, these models are manual, and only need the sun’s rays to power themselves. The fan converts and uses solar energy to vent heat and humidity out of your attic.

These vents are more expensive and require maintenance every six to eight months. You can install solar models with static vents like roof caps for better circulation. This may glean better results by lowering humidity and temperature. By combining ventilation systems, your attic can stay thoroughly vented on cloudy days. However, for areas that receive little rain and lots of sunlight, they can be the ideal ventilation unit.

Soffit vents

You should combine this ventilation system with roof ridge vents for better results, but not all ridge systems include them. Soffit roof vents increase airflow by allowing ventilation through tiny slits or holes. Metals like aluminum are the standard material for these, but PVC models are also available.

When installed, they balance out the intake/outtake of the ventilation system. This creates a more balanced temperature inside the attic and improves airflow through the entire house. Installing soffit vents on the ground level allows air into basements, laundry rooms, and other humid areas of the house.

Cupola vents

While they are mostly decorative, cupola vents can also work as a form of roof ventilation. Like box vents, they sit over a hole in the roof and allow hot air to rise out of the home. However, they are usually larger and decorated with small houses, weathervanes, or birdhouses. They can come in some sizes, colors, and designs, and are popular with ranch or farm owners.

It would take multiple cupola roof vents to properly vent an attic, which can be expensive and gaudy. For this reason, many homeowners simply buy one for ornamental purposes and install other ventilation systems to encourage airflow.

Choosing the Right Ventilation for Your Home

When choosing roof vents for your home, there are many factors to consider. What kind of roof does your house have? Is the attic being used for storage/living? What temperature and level of humidity are allowed? How much can you afford?

While many homeowners go with the most straightforward option, choosing the right ventilation system for your roof can increase its lifespan by many years. Without humidity, hot-spots, and water damage, a properly vented roof can last anywhere from 25 to 30 years. Roofs can be costly and hard to repair, so it’s essential to invest in proper ventilation.

Despite the importance of roof vents, many homeowners neglect their vent systems or forget about them. Proper maintenance is necessary, mainly if you invest in PAV or solar models. Make sure to check your attic for mold or water damage regularly, and have a professional look at your vents every six months.

If you’d like a more hands-off, independent ventilation system, talk to a roofing professional about your options. You can combine ventilation systems for better results. Whether you choose a fan unit or a simple roof cap vent, your roof will be better off for it.


Featured image: CC0, by sam_higgins_rulz, via Pixabay


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