LESLIE: Jeff in North Carolina needs some help up in the attic. What can we do for you?
JEFF: Well, my question is this. I have a 1,600-square-foot ranch house and I have vents at both eaves. And a friend of mine was over and he said that I could save some money on my electric bill if under the soffits I would install vents to kind of help the house to breathe. Instead of just using the two end eave vents, it would have more places for the house to breathe. I was wondering is that a good idea and, if so, what kind of spacing should I put these vents in the soffit.
TOM: Well, Jeff, you have a very smart friend. He’s given you excellent advice.
JEFF: How would that work and how should I space these vents and what would be the trick? Should I use like a hole saw; like what you’d use for a door set or what would be the way to kind of go about that?
TOM: No, the best ventilation system is when you have continuous ridge and soffit venting. So what kinds of roof vents do you have right now?
JEFF: It’s just two at the eaves. You know, just two louvered vents at the eaves.
TOM: Yeah. OK, so here’s the best way to capitalize on a straight gable roof. You add a continuous soffit vent, which means you remove the soffit material that’s there right now and replace it with perforated soffit material. So it’s not just a matter of cutting holes into that soffit.
LESLIE: It’s a continuous vent.
TOM: It’s a continuous, wide-open vent. And then you install what’s called a ridge vent. Basically, you cut a slot in the top ridge of the roof and put a vent right over it. And now you have a continuous ridge and soffit vent and here’s why that’s a good idea: because as the wind blows over the roof, it depressurizes the ridge and sucks the warm air from the attic, the moist air from the attic. Everything you want to vent from the attic gets sucked out of that ridge through the depressurization that happens through the normal wind cycle. And then the soffits is where the wind blows against the house and it goes up under it. So think about it: air enters at the soffit; goes up under the sheathing; carries out the moisture, carries out the heat; and exits at the ridge and that cycle repeats 24/7.
And the last step, after you have continuous soffit and continuous ridge vents, is to go in the attic and close up the gable vents because those original vents will interrupt the flow that you’ve now created with the continuous ridge and soffit.
JEFF: Very much, very much. Well, I appreciate the advice and that’s one project I can get on here at the end of the spring before it gets a little too hot to get up in there. So thank you guys so much for the tips.
TOM: It’s a perfect time to do just that. Jeff, you’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.