Author Topic: Roof repair: Should I get a ridge vent? (Read 36399 times)

wakkowarner

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Roof repair: Should I get a ridge vent?
« on: December 03, 2012, 10:12:55 PM »
Due to hail damage I am getting my roof repaired. My deductible is $1000. The insurance company covers like-for-like, so any "upgrades" I cover out of pocket in addition to the deductible. One of the options the roofer quoted for me was a ridge vent.

Any opinions on if it is worth the extra cost to get one installed? Would I do just as well with some other ventilation option. Is this passive system (while costing no money to operate) still worthwhile in comparison to an active system. I guess the answers could all be "it depends on your roof" but I'd like to know what others think that might have more experience. I can answer any questions to the best of my ability as to the particulars of my roof if it would help.

BTW, I'm extremely scared of heights, so this isn't anything that I could do myself anyway. Which is unfortunate, as I fix most everything else around the house that is closer to ground level.

paddedhat

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Re: Roof repair: Should I get a ridge vent?
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2012, 04:46:02 AM »
Current standards call for continuous ridge ventilation and fully vented soffits. The benefit is that the roof structure stays dry, and well ventilated, and the shingles stay cooler and last longer. The issues in adding a ridge vent to an existing home can be numerous. Fully vented soffit means that the soffit is a style that has vent slots, holes, or screening under the entire lower edge of the slope. An older house may have nothing but solid painted board soffits and no venting at all. In this case, the common retrofit is to drill 2-3" holes, in a pattern, and install screened plugs. The result looks like shit, and the job is unpleasant at best. Next you need to visualize the air being able to flow under the sheathing from the soffit vent, between the rafters, and out the ridge vent. Is there anything preventing this possibility, such as insulation, funky framing details, plastered attic ceiling, etc? No reason to add a ridge vent if the air isn't going to flow to it. Last, I have run into an odd, yet spectacularly damaging event, when ridge vent is retrofitted in snow country. IF the existing home has gable end vents, and you add a ridge vent, and you get light blowing snow AND high wind conditions, the attic can fill to the very top with snow. The issues is that the ridge vent performs so well in high winds that it will suck large volumes of air into gable end vents. If the air is full of fluffy snow, it gets ugly. So the gable vents need to be blocked. Hope this helps?

wakkowarner

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Re: Roof repair: Should I get a ridge vent?
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2012, 10:43:51 AM »
It helps, thanks. Seems like what I need to determine is whether or not if the ridge vent would help with my current roof. That is, if I have the appropriate soffits, or if they will be retrofitting it. I guess along with that I need to take a look in my attic to see if insulation would be getting in the way. From what I was told, I had a lot of insulation in my attic, so that could be an issue. Unless there is something that they installed to channel the air between the insulation and the roof. I haven't really looked up there myself though (the whole fear of heights thing).

It is an older home though, about 46 years or so. I'll try taking a look around when I get home to see how the current ventilation scheme is handled.

PJ

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Re: Roof repair: Should I get a ridge vent?
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2012, 12:16:35 PM »
I love that whether it's a question about roofs, cars, bikes/bike trailers, gardening, etc, there is a pool of information available here in these forums to help with just about any issue!
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Nords

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Re: Roof repair: Should I get a ridge vent?
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2012, 01:07:13 PM »
Any opinions on if it is worth the extra cost to get one installed? Would I do just as well with some other ventilation option. Is this passive system (while costing no money to operate) still worthwhile in comparison to an active system. I guess the answers could all be "it depends on your roof" but I'd like to know what others think that might have more experience. I can answer any questions to the best of my ability as to the particulars of my roof if it would help.
Where is this roof? If it's sunny and never freezes then I'd recommend a solar exhaust fan instead of a ridge vent. The homes in our Oahu neighborhood have both, and the homes with solar exhaust fans have much cooler attics.

A solar exhaust fan might be acceptable for an attic in a freezing climate, but I don't have the experience to share an opinion.
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wakkowarner

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Re: Roof repair: Should I get a ridge vent?
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2012, 03:58:50 PM »
My house is in St. Louis, MO. We experience cold winters (well, except this winter so far, and last one) and hot summers. Humidity can be high or low, but is not regularly one or the other.

The common thing said around here is that if you don't like the weather then just wait 5 minutes. It's more consistent than that (usually), but I've lived in the north and the south during my time in the military, and I would say I was mostly prepared for both by growing up in St. Louis. The north gets colder for longer periods, and the south get warmer and wetter for longer than here, but we definitely experience the extremes.

Nords

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Re: Roof repair: Should I get a ridge vent?
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2012, 08:45:25 PM »
My house is in St. Louis, MO. We experience cold winters (well, except this winter so far, and last one) and hot summers. Humidity can be high or low, but is not regularly one or the other.
The common thing said around here is that if you don't like the weather then just wait 5 minutes. It's more consistent than that (usually), but I've lived in the north and the south during my time in the military, and I would say I was mostly prepared for both by growing up in St. Louis. The north gets colder for longer periods, and the south get warmer and wetter for longer than here, but we definitely experience the extremes.
Um, I think we both have different ideas of what "cold" means.

My use of the word "freezes" implies that bad things might happen to solar-powered attic exhaust fans, including having snow cover the PV panel. I'm not sure because I've never seen a frozen solar-powered attic exhaust fan. But if your idea of cold is still "above freezing" then that shouldn't be a problem.
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MafiaPrincess

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Re: Roof repair: Should I get a ridge vent?
« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2012, 09:09:12 PM »
I come from a mustachian family. I just never had a word to call us before. We replaced our roof (all DIY) 7 yrs ago now I think. We have good attic vents, did before. Working soffit vents, and a few extra vents in the roof. We also had a powered heat exhaust fan with temp control.

When we redid the roof, we added ridge vent on both roofs. Was a product we were unfamiliar with, but played with consumer reports and gave it a go. It has made a difference even though we already had more venting than 99% of of neighbours. The temp controlled vent rarely kicks in now actually even since the ridge vent was added. Crawling into the attic, the attic space is cooler in summer an easily perceptible change.

I would seriously think about making the plunge for the investment in your roof.

wakkowarner

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Re: Roof repair: Should I get a ridge vent?
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2012, 02:11:40 PM »
Cold to me is below 0F. Not just below freezing, but more than 32 degrees below that point. A few years a go there was a huge power outage due to so much ice frozen on trees that many of the branches broke and causing power lines breaking.

Hot is temperatures above 100F. This past summer we had a number of those, not sure what the official count was.

I looked up in my attic for the first time. There is a lot of blown insulation. Little pink things similar to packing peanuts, but looks like its made out of insulation material instead of styrofoam. They seem to go to the edge of the roof where the soffits should be. Looking up under my porch I didn't see any soffit holes. I do have a gable vent.

So I'm not sure if a ridge vent would work with my setup. I would like it too. When I first bought the house 3 years ago the home inspector told me the roof would need to be replaced within 5 years, and there was some damage on the shingles which basically indicated it was probably getting too hot. When he looked up in the attic he saw all the insulation and said that was probably part of the reason. Probably the other part would be no soffit vents (or blocked soffit vents, due to the loose insulation). But he had recommended I get a ridge vent when the roof was fixed. But he might have been thinking at the time that the soffits would need to be fixed too. I doubt the $240 optional upgrade to add the ridge vent includes soffit work.

With that situation, not sure what exactly I should do. Perhaps pay for the upgrade, then try to do the soffit work myself. Might be doable if I can do it from inside the attic (won't notice the heights from in there). If it needs to be from the outside, then I might just need to ask them to bid for that work too. Without the soffit vents though, it sounds like this wouldn't be a worthwhile upgrade. The other option is to upgrade the gable vent to something more active. I didn't get a good look at it, not sure if it has a fan on it or not.

Just trying to get the most bang for my buck. Thanks for the advice so far!

Scizzler

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Re: Roof repair: Should I get a ridge vent?
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2012, 04:08:15 PM »
If you're willing to go a little farther off the beaten path, you could explore an unvented attic space:

http://buildingscience.com/documents/reports/rr-0301-unvented-roof-summary-article/view?searchterm=conditioned%20attic

The insulation is moved to the underside of the roof, as opposed to the floor of the attic, and the entire space is sealed. There are a number of advantages to doing this, but it's currently not a widely accepted practice. Hope this helps!

Nords

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Re: Roof repair: Should I get a ridge vent?
« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2012, 08:46:33 PM »
So I'm not sure if a ridge vent would work with my setup. I would like it too. When I first bought the house 3 years ago the home inspector told me the roof would need to be replaced within 5 years, and there was some damage on the shingles which basically indicated it was probably getting too hot. When he looked up in the attic he saw all the insulation and said that was probably part of the reason. Probably the other part would be no soffit vents (or blocked soffit vents, due to the loose insulation). But he had recommended I get a ridge vent when the roof was fixed. But he might have been thinking at the time that the soffits would need to be fixed too. I doubt the $240 optional upgrade to add the ridge vent includes soffit work.
You'd expect the home inspector to affirm that the attic insulation would keep the house from warming the attic in winter. That insulation not only lowers your heating bill, it keeps the snow on the roof from melting to form ice dams in your gutters.

If the shingles are heat damaged (during the summer) then the attic needs more ventilation. One option would be having the roofers drill the soffit vents during the roof replacement as well as adding the ridge vent. Another option would be using reflective shingles (like Solaris) or some other roofing material (like standing-seam aluminum). Roof replacement is usually a large labor cost, so the upgrades to materials are generally worth the money.

As for the solar-powered attic exhaust fan, you'd want to talk it over with a local roofer to see how it handles the freezing weather.
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strider3700

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Re: Roof repair: Should I get a ridge vent?
« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2012, 08:51:25 PM »
Do you have any venting currently? If so the question is is it enough. If not adding more vents in the roof is pretty inexpensive when re roofing. That's assuming the roof vents are the limiting factor and not the sofit vents like was pointed out. When I redid my roof I added more roof vents just because I could easily I went from 3 standard vents to 6. Total cost was maybe an extra $60 as I believe each vent cover was $20. I replaced the existing 3 while we were up there. I didn't touch the soffit vents but they were continuous screen on the sides of the house. Roughly 3"x30' x2. A ridge vent would have provided more vent area but at much higher cost.

My personal belief is you can never have too much venting in an attic. You want the attic temp to exactly match the outside temp and any moisture build up to be carried out quickly by the rapidly exchanging air.

MountainFlower

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Re: Roof repair: Should I get a ridge vent?
« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2012, 02:06:44 PM »
If you're willing to go a little farther off the beaten path, you could explore an unvented attic space:

http://buildingscience.com/documents/reports/rr-0301-unvented-roof-summary-article/view?searchterm=conditioned%20attic

The insulation is moved to the underside of the roof, as opposed to the floor of the attic, and the entire space is sealed. There are a number of advantages to doing this, but it's currently not a widely accepted practice. Hope this helps!

That's what we have, but we're in a cold, dry, high altitude climate with cathedral ceilings. We DIYed our whole house, so our progress was slow (as in, we started over 10 years ago, and we're still not done). Sometimes that was to our advantage. We originally had a ridge vent installed, but because we didn't have insulation for the longest time, we learned that if there was snow on the roof, and if it was a warm and windy day (think March), the wind would blow the melted snow into the ridge vent and it would leak into the house. We had a roofer tear out the ridge vent and we went with an unvented roof.

It sounds like you might need to install some baffles in order to achieve continuous venting from the ridge to the soffit. We do have a small part of our roof like that above our mudroom.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2012, 02:08:37 PM by MountainFlower »

Tennis Maniac

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Re: Roof repair: Should I get a ridge vent?
« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2012, 07:23:46 AM »
To follow up on what Scizzler mentioned about insulating the underside of your roof...

I had a whole home energy audit done this past summer and found that my house was a giant sieve for air.
One of the guy's suggestions was to spray foam the entire underside of my roof ($4000, i'm in a one story ranch, so lots of roof... 80' x 40' approx) and change the attic space to conditioned space instead of unconditioned space. Previously, I had spent a lot of time and effort to upgrade the bat insulation in my attic and the soffit venting along the entire perimeter of my house (again, 80' x 40'!!). Emotionally, I didn't want to take so many steps backward before moving forward, undoing all the labor I had put in. Conditioning the attic space with spray foam insulation on the ceiling does have a side benefit... if you have a lot of air leakage through your ceiling, spray foaming the underside of the roof should drastically help that problem; this should then reduce your heating and cooling costs. For my situation, I would have had to re-seal my soffits and probably lose all the bat insulation i had added.

If your soffits are currently sealed and you have no ridge vent, you should get a spray foam guy over there to give you a quote on spray foaming the underside of the roof. At least you will know the cost of your other major option. Also, this option doesn't need to be tied into getting your roof fixed now; you could wait until the summer to do it. You might consider doing an energy audit with a blower test to see if you are leaking air as badly as I was. I'm not sure how much your roof issues will affect the testing, you should ask. The energy audit I had done was subsidized by a New York state program to help with home owners energy costs ($250 less subsidies for me). Any similar energy audit company you call would know of any such subsidies in your state.

I think I would have gone the spray foam route if I had known of that option years ago when I redid my insulation and soffits.

I live in Troy, NY. Just like you, my winters get down to 0F, summers get up to 100F. My house was built in 1962.

James

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Re: Roof repair: Should I get a ridge vent?
« Reply #14 on: December 07, 2012, 07:36:10 AM »
I had my roof done after hail damage last year. Just like you I had the old traditional vents, but my roofer changed me to ridge vents at no additional cost. I would ask the roofer to do that, and call around to other high quality roofers to comparison shop. With insurance paying they will likely be willing to throw the ridge vent in just to get a job at full pay.
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