Roof Vents Explained – Types of Roof Ventilation

Home 9 Roofing 9 Roof Vents Explained – Types of Roof Ventilation

Did you know that the results of poor ventilation in the attic are stagnant air, humidity, and bad odors? Eventually, this leads to damage to the home and can cause poor health for the occupants. So how do you ventilate a roof?

Luckily, there are a few options to help you. Below we go through the most common roof vent types and which to consider.

How Do Roof Vents Work?

The types of roof vents are generally categorized by how they operate. Some vents use physics to move air through them and ventilate the home while others use electrical devices to help the process along. Generally, these fall into four different areas.


Natural methods use wind and thermal energy to move air through the building, thus ventilating your roof. Warm air rises and will exit through higher vents, such as ridge vents. Cold air will then enter through vents placed lower down, such as soffit vents.


When a building can not use natural ventilation, then mechanical assistance can help. These devices hook up to power supplies to work and either bring fresh air in or take the old air out.


This is a mix of both of the above. Natural ventilation is employed, but an extra helping hand is given using mechanical devices.


Exhaust systems are mechanical but they work in a different way. They will depressurize a room so that air gets sucked out through a duct. They are most common in wet and damp rooms like bathrooms and utility spaces.

Types of Roof Vent

Amongst these, there are a whole host of roof vent options. Which will work most effectively depends on the property, room, and climate.

Ridge Vents

Ridge vents are a type of exhaust vent. They are installed at the highest peak of the roof and run along the whole roofline. This is advantageous as hot air rises and it provides a large area with which to expel stagnant air.

They work best when used in conjunction with other vents placed lower on the roof, such as soffit vents. These lower vents let the cool air in. As the hot air rises, the ridge vent will dispel it, completing the cycle.

These are the most common types of vents for aerating an attic. As they are commonplace, they are also one of the cheaper options. If you have the type of roof that can hold a ridge vent, you really don’t need other options.

Box Vents

Box vents work in a similar way to a ridge vent. However, instead of covering the whole crest of the roof, they are small boxes that sit near the roof surface. As they are smaller, they can be installed in areas that need ventilation but are not able to hold a ridge vent.

They are also good for areas that don’t have complete roof lines. As they are smaller they are less effective, but you can compensate for that by adding them in numbers.

Off-Ridge Vents

Off-ridge vents are very much like box vents. As the name suggests, they sit just off the ridge of the roof. They are often around four feet long and made from galvanized steel.

These vents tend to only be used in certain circumstances. Smaller than ridge vents, they don’t expel as much air. They are also not as high on the roof so don’t get rid of the hottest air.

You may find them on a property when the roof line is very small in length. If a roof has lots of peaks, and dormers and does not have a continuous line it may also be effective.

Attic Vents

Attic vents, also known as attic fans, use mechanics to pull the stagnant air out of an attic. This works in a very similar way to a fan placed in a window.

One of the downsides is that they do run off the power supply and can increase your utility costs. They also need to be carefully managed, as they may not be large enough to make a difference at all, or pull so much air out that they cause temperature fluctuations. This can come with its own set of problems.

Soffit Vents

A soffit vent is an intake vent, meaning it brings air into the attic instead of expelling it. They are small, discreet vents that sit under the eaves of a building. Small gaps in them allow the cool air to enter, and there are usually quite a few spaced out at regular intervals.

Individual soffit vents are smaller and used together. Continuous soffit vents are long pieces that often wrap around the eaves. Of course, not all buildings have these overhanging sections in which case other solutions for air intake must be considered.

Gable Vents

Gable vents are both intake and outtake vents, commonly seen on older buildings. They sit at the ends of a property, and air flows through one side and out of the other, known as a horizontal cross breeze.

These vents don’t work in every home and are usually a design feature, that comes in a wide array of shapes and sizes. As it is a horizontal cross breeze system, it is not a good idea to combine it with vertical ventilation strategies such as soffits and ridges.

Choosing a Roof Vent

Now you know the main types of roof vent, you can make an informed decision about which to include in your home. You may already have them but want additional support. Speak to an expert who will know the best strategy. Your first stop should be Volpe Enterprises, Inc. We provide home improvements by knowledgeable craftsmen, for both interior and exterior services. Contact us here and get a free estimate for your home.

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