Basics of Roof Ventilation in Fairfax & Northern VA

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

No matter what type of roofing material you use, one of the most important parts of roof installation is making sure you have proper roof ventilation. New roofs can add value to your Fairfax home and improve the efficiency of your HVAC system, but unventilated roofs create stifling attics and can do the opposite of what they’re intended!

What You Need to Know About Roof Ventilation

Roof ventilation is the circulation of air through your attic and roof. Ventilation can be defined by two categories: intake and exhaust. To keep the roof temperature consistent, you need continuous circulation of both intake and exhaust to make sure the hot air from the attic is constantly pushed out and replaced with fresh, cooler air.

Depending on how much shade you have over your home, your roof is constantly exposed to direct sunlight every day. Without proper attic ventilation, heat can build up in your attic and lead to stiflingly hot temperatures elsewhere in your home. Needless to say, this will cause your air conditioner to work even harder to keep your home comfortable, leading to increased cooling costs.

Improper roof ventilation can also lead to ice dams, which are ridges of ice that can form on the perimeter of your roof. This can cause moisture to sneak in beneath your roof shingles, resulting in mold and mildew along with many more potentially serious problems.

Intake vs. Exhaust

Since you need air to move in two directions through your home, you need two types of vents – intake vents and exhaust vents. Exhaust vents come in a variety of styles, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find one that fits with your home. Some of the more common ones include:

  • Whirlybird vents
  • Static vents
  • Dormer vents
  • Ridge vents
  • Gable vents

The main type of intake vents is called a soffit vent. Soffit vents are installed on your soffits, which are the spaces under any overhanging eaves on your roof. Soffit vents can be actual vents like you would see on the walls or floors within your home if you have a forced air HVAC system, or they can simply be holes or slits cut directly into the soffits. Soffits will draw cooler outdoor air through the roof, replacing the warm air that is moving out through the roof vents.

According to the FHA, you should have 1 square foot of attic ventilation for every 300 feet of attic or roof space. This ventilation should consist of outlets for intake and exhaust to ensure effective air circulation.

Roof Ventilation and Insulation

It might seem strange to think that air would be able to flow up under your roof when it’s insulated – or even that you’d want this to happen! Fortunately, there is a way you can ensure proper airflow without cancelling out the benefits of your insulation: installing baffles.

Baffles are long, U-shaped pieces of plastic or foam that are secured to the underside of the roof decking, between the rafters. They form a trench that allows air to flow freely between the roof and any insulation under the roof.

If you want to add ventilation to your roof, call R.M. Banning today. We are a family owned business with over 30 years of roofing experience, and we have achieved the SELECT Shingle MasterTM status from the CertainTeed Corporation, an accreditation held by less than 1 percent of roofing professionals nationwide. Each crew member has earned and maintains the Master Shingle Applicator Accreditation. Real people, real service. If you want to install roof ventilation in Fairfax and Northern Virginia, call R. M. Banning Roofing today!

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