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Roof vents

Air intake and exhaust vents are used in ventilating steep-slope roof assemblies to provide a means of allowing outside air to enter and exit attics and ventilation spaces.

Intake Vents: Air intake vents are used to allow outside air to enter into attics and ventilation spaces. Intake vents should be located along a roof assembly's lowest eave at or near soffits or eaves.

Intake vents are best used with exhaust vents that are located at or near a roof assembly's peak. This configuration of ventilation air intake along low points and exhaust at high points takes advantage of natural convection.

Some of the more commonly used products are:
  • Continuous soffit vents
  • Individual soffit vents
  • Drip edge or eave vents
A variety of pre-manufactured products are available for use as eave and soffit vents. Some examples are shown here.


Figure: Examples of intake vents

Intake vents always should be installed to allow free movement of air into the ventilation space and should not be blocked on the interior side by insulation or other material. Baffles placed between rafters keep insulation from blocking air intake. Intake vents must also be designed and installed to prevent precipitation, animals and insects from entering the ventilation space. Drip edge vents should not be used with gutters.

NRCA does not recommend the use of drip edge vents as intake vents in northern climates where there is a likelihood of ice damming.

Exhaust Vents: Air exhaust vents are used to allow air in attics and ventilation spaces to exit to the exterior. Exhaust vents should be placed at or near a roof assembly's ridge or high point.

Exhaust vents are best used with intake vents that are located along a roof assembly's lowest eave, at or near soffits or eaves. This configuration of balancing air intake along low points and air exhaust at high points takes advantage of natural convection.

Some common types of exhaust vents are:
  • Ridge Vents: Ridge vents are installed along the length of a ridge. Ridge vents are either shingle-over or nonshingle-over types.


    Figure: Example of shingle-over ridge vent


    Figure: Example of nonshingle-over ridge vent

    Shingle-over ridge vents are covered with shingles to prevent precipitation from entering a building. Because the shingles used over the vent match those used on the roof, shingle-over ridge vents are typically less noticeable than other types of exhaust vents.

    Because the exposed exterior material of nonshingle-over ridge vents is different from the adjacent roof covering material, nonshingle-over ridge vents may be more noticeable.


  • Static Vents: Static exhaust vents are individual vents that are installed near the ridge of a roof.


    Figure: Examples of individual static exhaust vents


  • Gable-end Vents: Gable-end vents are installed in the walls of a building at the gable end's peak.

    Gable-end vents are best used with intake vents at soffits or eaves. This allows for air intake at the soffits or eaves and air exhaust at the gable-end vents.


    Figure: Attic ventilation configuration with gable-end vents and intake vents at soffits or eaves

    When gable-end vents are used without additional intake vents located at a roof assembly's low points, gable-end vents function as intake and exhaust vents, depending on the wind direction. Additionally, their effectiveness depends on wind speed and direction; they are more effective when wind is of a sufficient speed and coming from a direction perpendicular to the roof assembly's gable ends. Gable-end vents are of limited effectiveness when winds are light and/or coming from a direction parallel to the roof assembly's gable ends.


  • Turbine Vents: Turbine vents rely on wind to rotate the vent's turbine fan blades, which draw air from the ventilated space. This vent design draws air from the ventilated space at a greater rate than a static vent when wind is present. The amount of air movement developed is a function of wind speed, as well as turbine size and efficiency.


    Figure: Example of a turbine vent


  • Powered Vents: Powered vents are essentially roof-mounted exhaust fans that are used to exhaust air from a ventilated space. Powered vents can improve air movement and should be mounted near the ridge. Powered vents are best used with intake vents located at eaves or soffits

    Powered vents may be controlled by thermostat and/or humidistat switches that cause the vents to run only above a predetermined temperature or relative humidity. Powered vents also should have a manual override.

    Powered ventilation should not be used in combination with ridge vents or static vents placed near a roof's ridge. In many instances, the air volume being exhausted by the powered ventilation will result in air intake and, therefore, possible moisture infiltration through ridge vents or static vents.






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