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Understand How Roof Vents Work: Types And Purpose Of Roof Vents

April 22, 2022
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The different roof materials penetrating the roofs of houses, like the roof vents, serve certain purposes. First, they aid the roof and house to function the way it's supposed to. Roof vents come in different sizes and shapes; and allow your home to breathe properly.

After you get a new roof, the next step will be choosing the style of the vent based on the ventilation system of your attic and the look you want. But, first, you'll need to understand the types and purpose of roof vents. So, since we're concerned that you have the right knowledge to make the right purchasing decision, we'll break it all down for you.

Types Of Roof Vents

There are two types of ventilation systems (active and passive). Each of these systems has different styles of roof vents you could choose from. Roof vents are of two types:

  1. Active roof vents and;
  2. Passive roof vents

Types Of Active Roof Vents

The major function of all active roof vents is to create a drawing effect that pulls air in with the intake vents and pushes it back through the exhaust vents. There are four major types of active roof vents:

  1. Solar Powered Vents

Those vents look like power vents, but, as the name implies, the sun is their source of power. As a result, they function effectively from the standpoint of an energy saver, but the vent turns off immediately after the solar-powered battery starts charging.

The main issue is that the solar panel doesn't hold a charge long enough for the vent to rely on it to operate all day because of the power needed to run the motor. So while the battery is charging, you may be winding up with your air conditioner, causing your energy bill to increase.

  1. Power Vents

The power vents are circular and have very low profiles, mostly seen on roofs. These vents are installed close to the top (ridge) of the roof and use electricity to take out hot air from the attic. It's advisable to use a humidistat to run your power vents during winter.

If not, the humidity level will increase in your attic, causing condensation and shortening the lifespan of your roof. Note that power vent motors often fail. So, you must be prepared to replace them whenever they fail.

  1. Turbine Vents

These roof vents are otherwise called whirlybirds. Their function is to use a drawing effect through hear rising (convection) to move the air around the attic even without wind. When the turbine vent is installed correctly, it enables the air in the attic to move around at least 10 to 12 times per hour.

However, since turbine vents are open-aired to the attic and have slats on them, there's a general misconception that insects, rain, and snow can penetrate through them. In contrast, there are constructed so that no penetrations can occur except the vent is damaged.

  1. Ridge Vents

The ridge vents are cut to fit the roof's ridge and run the whole length. This roof vent is popular because it isn't easily noticeable from the ground. However, the major disadvantage of using this vent is that there's no filter to sieve rain, debris, snow, and insects from entering the attic.

The ridge vent has a baffle (chutes that provide a channel for air to flow). The baffle is what helps move air through the attic. So, if the ridge vent doesn't come with a baffle, it is a passive vent.

Types Of Passive Roof Vents

The passive roof vent uses natural forces like convection and wind to move air through the attic. They do not have any moving parts and thus require no maintenance. Also, they don't create noise. The major types of passive vents are:

  1. Gable End Vents

These are wooden vents installed on the exterior wall of the attic, just below where the two slopes of your roof meet. The gable end vents depend on the wind from outside to move air in and out of the attic.

  1. Static Vents

These vents are otherwise called box vents or turtle vents and appear as little boxes on the roof. Their function is to allow heat to escape the roof through the concessions method. So, as the heat in your attic rises, the hot air is pushed away through the vents.

  1. Ridge Vents (without a baffle)

This vent is similar to its active version that is cut into the ridge and runs the whole length of the ridge. The only disparity is that this passive version doesn't have a chute that serves as a channel for air to flow. However, this type of ridge vent without a baffle allows rain, insects, debris, etc., to enter your attic.

Purpose Of Roof Vents

Roof vents are essential because they help reduce the cost of energy bills, extend the life of your roof, and minimize extreme indoor temperatures. See details of its purposes below:

  • Extension of Roof Life

Have you ever noticed ice build-ups on the edge of roofs and gutters? This build-up is called ice damming. Unfortunately, you only get to see the circles they form on the surface and not the severe damage they're doing to the building's roofing system, attic, and walls. Ice damming occurs when the heat from the inner part of your attic combines with the heat from the sun to melt ice and snow on your warm roof.

Installing a roof vent will ensure the warm air escapes before it has the chance to melt the ice and snow on your roof. Ventilation also benefits the roof when it's hot outside. When the temperature outside rises, the temperature on your roof can nearly double. A hot roof over a poorly vented attic translates into a very hot attic. Evenly vented roofs allow hot air to escape keeping your attic and roof cooler.

  • Reduction in Energy Cost

A roof vent installed properly allows heat to escape, reducing the workload on your AC system. As you may know, when the air conditioner runs less, the electric bill will be below.

  • Reduction in Extreme Indoor Temperature

Extreme indoor temperatures are usually a result of an improperly installed roof vent. But, if the roof vent is properly installed, your home (indoor) will be more comfortable.


No matter the kind of roof vent you use for your roofing system, what's most important is that your attic is ventilated properly. If your roof has problems, you will have to contact an experienced professional roofing contractor to repair or install a new roof vent.

We offer the best roofing ventilation techniques. Call us today at 11215 (646) - 838 - 0441 or visit us at 553 Prospect Avenue, Brooklyn, NY We have a long-term warranty too, so you have no worries!

Royal Renovators Inc is Fully Licensed and Insured, with Offices Throughout the NYC Area.
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