How to Ventilate the Attic of a Historic Home
LESLIE: Catherine in Virginia, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
CATHERINE: Yes. Well, I have a historic, brick home that was built in the 1820s and I’m trying to figure out how to vent the attic without compromising the historic – the integrity, I guess, of the house.
TOM: OK, so you are talking about an attic. Is this an unfinished attic that you need to vent?
CATHERINE: Yes, it’s an unfinished, third floor attic.
TOM: Alright. So why not add a ridge vent down the peak of the roof and – I mean it’s going to be expensive but if you want to preserve the historic character, you could make that a copper ridge vent …
TOM: … and that would be very attractive and that would let plenty of warm air out.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm. Patina really nicely, too.
CATHERINE: OK. Would that suffice to take care of the whole issue in the attic or do you need an inflow and an outflow or …?
TOM: Yeah, you should match that with soffit vents. Do you have an overhang on this roof?
CATHERINE: Yes. You mean like – are you thinking along the lines of a soffit?
TOM: Yes, a soffit. Do you have a soffit?
CATHERINE: Yeah, we do but it’s decorative and it’s brick, so it’s curved and …
TOM: A brick soffit that’s curved?
CATHERINE: Yeah, it’s a real funny, old house, so it’s – yeah.
TOM: OK. Well, let’s assume that you don’t have a soffit that you can do anything to, so then what you do in that situation is you use something called a drip-edge vent. Now a drip-edge vent goes at the edge of the roof and it essentially extends the edge of the roof about two inches and creates a mini-soffit. And it would be invisible from the street when you look up but it would let air into the underside of the roof sheathing; it would ride up under the sheathing and then exit at the ridge.
CATHERINE: Wonderful. I knew you people were the right people to call.
TOM: (chuckles) OK. Well, you’re very welcome. It sounds like a lovely home. Good luck with that project.