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We purchased a 1920 brick home 2 years ago and are pricing a new roof and the roofing contractors want to put in ridge vents and soffit ventilation systems. We currently have two large awning style windows on each end of the stand up attic and an attic fan. The roof does have large peaks and slopes and when looking a the tongue and groove from the inside it appears perfect with no signs of mold or wood rot.

  1. Do we really need the a ridge vent and soffit ventilation system in a 100 year old home with no roof related issues except its time to replace the shingles?

  2. After reading quite a few articles we feel as though we should be leaving these windows cracked open or fairly wide open all year round.
    Is that an accurate assessment?

Your recommendations and insights would be greatly appreciated.

  • So you have an attic exhaust fan... how does the air enter the attic so the fan can expel it? – JACK Jan 25 at 14:25
  • I'm thinking we're supposed to leave the windows open year round but not sure. I left them cracked open in the summer and closed them last winter. – smiling in LI NY Jan 25 at 14:59
  • unfortunately the house didn't come with instructions :) – smiling in LI NY Jan 25 at 15:00
  • OK, are there any vents in the attic besides the one the fan's in front of? – JACK Jan 25 at 15:13
  • Hi and thank you. The fan is up top and just about in centered in of 40' attic length. there are 2 windows on each end - there is no other ventilation – smiling in LI NY Jan 31 at 13:10
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This is a subjective question which depends on your prerogative for several things. How long will you stay in the home (or what's your predilection for saving the planet)? Better venting may keep the attic cooler, which may in turn reduce air conditioning costs (financial and ecological). The payoff (in time and pollution savings) isn't clear without a detailed analysis of current conditions and potential improvement.

If you don't have moisture problems now, and you haven't found cooling costs to be unreasonable, I would not make changes at this stage in the home's impressive life. If you feel like the HVAC system struggles in the heat of summer, it may be a wise move.

FYI, attic vents should remain open year-round. Even in winter there's moisture to be released, especially without a modern sealed building envelope. Much more vapor than you realize may be migrating out of the living space. Also, you want most of the heat to be released anyway to prevent ice damming. You might close them somewhat to retain a bit of heat, but only if it's convenient. If it means pushing into an attic and getting insulation all over, don't bother. Leave them open.

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    I'd also add to the answer that in the winter months, if the roof has ventilation, it is likely to allow heat to escape that got up there instead of it melting snow and promoting ice dams ... if it applies. – noybman Jan 25 at 15:23
  • Great point. It's been a while since I've owned an older home, and that completely slipped my mind. – isherwood Jan 25 at 15:54
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    Ok, my takeaway is to leave well enough alone, open the windows year round and focus on shingle replacement. many thanks to everyone for your insights – smiling in LI NY Jan 31 at 13:22

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