Ridge vents help release hot air in summer and keep attic spaces cold in winter. They’re a worthwhile investment for homeowners looking to increase energy efficiency, especially those installing a new roof. We’ve explained the benefits, drawbacks, and cost factors below.
What Is a Ridge Vent?
Ridge vents are made by cutting a slot out of a length of roof sheathing, which is then covered with fibrous material and a cap. They’re typically installed on the peak of the roof because the ridge line is often where warm air collects, but there are also off-ridge vents. Ridge vents come with or without baffles. Their exact configuration varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. These provide a vital function in increasing energy efficiency for many homes, regardless of the type of roof.
Baffle vs. Without Baffle
A baffle is an addition to a ridge vent. It helps redirect wind over the vent to create a vacuum effect that pulls air out of an attic instead of relying on basic convection forces. Ridge vents without baffles sometimes rely more on the wind’s orientation to create ventilation, and off-ridge vents without baffles can easily leak. This leads to water damage. Baffles also help deflect wind-driven rain, snow, insects, and pests.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Roof Ridge Vents
Roof ridge vents come with many benefits for proper ventilation of an attic space. Let’s explore the pros and cons of this facet of a roofing system.
➕ Help attics stay cool in winter to prevent the formation of ice dams from melting and refreezing snow
➕ Increase energy efficiency by helping homes stay cool in summer
➕ Reduce the chance of mold development by ventilating and circulating warm air, reducing moisture buildup
➖ Risk of water intrusion without baffles
➖ Some older homes were not built with ridge vents
How Much Venting Do You Need for Your Attic?
Residential building codes often cite the 300:1 rule for calculating the venting space needed for an attic. This rule says that for every 300 square feet of attic space, you need 1 square foot of ventilation space. Roofing professionals will perform calculations, but proactive homeowners can calculate the vent amount needed by doing the following:
- Calculate the attic’s square footage.
- Divide this number by 300 to figure out how many square feet of vents are needed.
- Multiply the square feet of vents by 144 to convert square feet into square inches, which is how vents are measured.
- Divide the square inches of required ventilation by the square inches of each vent.
- Divide the number of vents by two to determine how many intake vents and exhaust vents are needed (1:1 ratio).
- Round any decimal places up to a whole number.
The average cost of ridge vent installation for homeowners is $425, according to HomeAdvisor. You can expect to pay $2 to $3 per linear foot for ridge vent installation, with fluctuations based on style. Popular brands include GAF and Owens Corning. Major cost factors include the following:
- Amount of vents required
- Attic square footage
- Material type
- Vent style
You can spend as little as $300 on some ridge vents, making them a worthy investment for any homeowner looking to extend their roof’s life span and increase energy efficiency.
Other Types of Roof Vents
A ridge vent is a kind of dry vent, but there are other types of vents, too. Here are alternative options:
- Cupola vent: Sits on a roof’s ridge that uses passive breezes to ventilate hot air, which works with most roof styles.
- Drip edge vent: Sits underneath the overhang of a roof between shingles and a gutter.
- Electric attic vents: Uses a motor to ventilate air. These are not energy-efficient and often not recommended as a long-term option.
- Soffit vents: Static vents that sit under your roof’s eaves. These are often combined with other forms of ventilation because they aren’t efficient or adequate on their own.
Other styles exist, but ridge vents with baffles typically provide the most consistent and efficient ventilation as a standalone option.
Should You Install Roof Ridge Vents?
Some homeowners may hesitate to install ridge vents if they don’t know what signs to look for. Attic ventilation isn’t only important in summer. Here are some indications it’s a worthy investment:
- Ice dam formation on your roof
- Signs of energy inefficiency, such as high heating or cooling bills
- Unusual or unexpected structural damage to the roof after a storm
- Very hot attic
Any of these factors, or a combination of them, are a sign that ridge vents are a good option for your home’s long-term value and structural health. Proper ventilation combined with an effective insulation system will counter many of these common issues.
Ridge vents are a solid option for those in the tropics as much as those living in snow country. Homeowners looking to increase their home’s energy efficiency and life span should consider installing a ridge vent. Homeowners can expect to pay between $300 and $550 for new ridge vent installation, but get quotes from several contractors to find the best option.
Ridge Vent FAQ
Which is better, a ridge vent or roof vent?
There are many different types of roof vents other than ridge vents, such as cupola vents, soffit vents, turbines, and more. Ridge vents with baffles provide proper ventilation with minimal risk of leaks or pest intrusion. The kind of ventilation your roof has typically depends on your home’s style, age, and the local climate.
What is the temperature range for ridge vents?
Some roofing contractors recommend that proper ventilation will keep an attic within 15 and 20 degrees of the temperature outside. This means if it’s 80 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the attic shouldn’t be more than 100 degrees. Excessive heat in the attic may mean your ventilation system is malfunctioning or faulty.
What is the primary function of ridge vents?
Ridge vents provide proper ventilation for attics by removing hot air to keep homes cool in summer and attics cold in winter. They increase energy efficiency by reducing cooling costs and protecting the roof from ice dam formation. Baffles prevent leaks and pest intrusion while enhancing the vacuum effect of low pressure over a vent, which removes more air from the attic than convection alone.