2

I am new to home improvement, and I'd like to ask your advice. I am the owner of a house in Maryland. Within a few weeks, we will install a new roof. 

Currently, my roof doesn't have a ridge vent, and an attic fan only runs. My contractor told me he can add a ridge vent.

Do you think I'd better keep the attic fan running in addition to a new ridge vent? Both can be working together?

or 

do you think I'd better remove the attic fan, and have the new ridge vent only? It should be a good idea?

or

do you think I'd better keep the attic fan without installing a new ridge vent if Howard county doesn't require it.

I thought that in the long run, if the attic fan could cause any rain/snow/leaves-related leaking issues, it could be safer to remove it. The chance is extremely low? or my thought is a good idea? Usually, how often (in years) do I need to replace an attic fan with a new one?

I appreciate your advice in advance.

enter image description here

(Added)

Yes. we have soffit venting (under the eaves), and each vent on two sides.

However, I found that some portions of the soffit venting are closed somehow, maybe (see the picture). I am not sure how though. Should I clean them up ASAP?

enter image description here

enter image description here

enter image description here

  • 1
    @isherwood Yes. we have soffit venting (under the eaves), and each vent on two sides. However, I found that some portions of the soffit venting are closed somehow, maybe (see the picture above). I am not sure how though. Should I clean them up ASAP? – Sam Kim Jul 24 '20 at 13:43
  • 2
    How? Excessive paint, evidently. – Ecnerwal Jul 24 '20 at 14:04
  • 1
    Those strips are barely adequate by modern standards to begin with. Being partially clogged makes them virtually useless. They should be scraped open. – isherwood Jul 24 '20 at 14:43
  • 2
    I would suggest that you call the Howard County Building Commission (or whatever their name is) and ask them directly whether or not you need A) a continuous ridge vent, B) any sort of passive venting or, C) if your powered vent is sufficient. They're the ones who will know your local code inside & out, and will be inspecting the job when complete (if permitted). – FreeMan Jul 24 '20 at 15:23
  • @FreeMan I called them and left a message. Actually, My contractor told me I can keep both of them (I believe he mentioned that based on Howard county code). So, I think I can consider three of them you mentioned, in any combination. However, because I have a powered vent for now, I am considering these options only 1) ridge vent only, 2) fan only or 3) both of them. Do you think I'd better keep my fan in addition to the ridge vent or not, and why? Ecnerwal mentioned the ridge vent is not effective, but I don't know how bad it is. Any advice on that? Thanks. – Sam Kim Jul 24 '20 at 17:33
3

In my personal experience, a "real vent" on top of the roof (cupola, turbine, etc) is far more effective than continuous ridge vent, and I will in fact be retrofitting a cupola onto a roof with continuous ridge vent for exactly that reason. The space feels nearly unvented, despite "being vented" as the air movement through the ridge vent (with plenty of venting at the eaves) is pathetic.

What you have there appears to be a "mushroom fan vent" rather than a turbine vent (i.e it only really moves air when powered up, while a turbine vent as I understand the term vents passively all the time and more actively whenever the wind blows.) That can be useful for increasing air movement in the space when needed, and should not be particularly prone to leak if it's in good shape. It would not meet code requiring passive ventilation, though.

I would strongly suggest reading the actual code applicable to your local area to see what it actually calls for, rather than accepting that it specifies "ridge vent" if, in fact, it simply requires passive vents but does not specify how that is to be done (which would be more likely, in my experience.)

  • 1
    Of course it depends on the type of ridge vent, whether it was installed properly (with adequate sheathing gap and not smashed by nails), and whether there are short-circuits in the system such as gable vents and other roof vents. I'm in a hot state and the standard is continuous ridge vent with fully-ventilated eaves, though we do have more insulation than some places as well, making a hotter attic less of a concern. – isherwood Jul 24 '20 at 14:42
  • Yes. My fan vent is power-based, and runs only when the weather is very hot based on the thermostat. Thank you for suggesting a "real vent" on top of the roof (cupola, turbine, etc). However, we don't have much time for now b/c we need to take care of my kids at home. So, for now, we want to choose one option among 1) ridge vent only, 2) fan only or 3) both of them. My contractor told me I can keep both of them (I think he mentioned that based on Howard county code). Do you think I'd better keep my fan in addition to the ridge vent because the ridge vent is not very effective? Thanks. – Sam Kim Jul 24 '20 at 17:23
  • Keep them both. See my answer. – SteveSh Jul 25 '20 at 17:24
1

I would keep the ridge vent and add the powered attic roof fan like one of your pictures shows. Done right (proper attention to flashing), the fan will not leak. And the powered fan is much more effective at clearing hot hot attic air than any passive system.

And do call the HoCo inspector's office. When I lived in HoCo, I found them to be very friendly and helpful. They want to help you do the job right.

EDIT 1 - Replacing the roof mounted fan

I've found the fan motors and mounting brackets to be fairly universal. I had the motor go out in my roof mount fan, and was able to replace it with a motor from another unit. Yes, I had to buy the entire unit, but at least I didn't have to remove & replace the fan housing itself, which was flashed and water-tight to the roof.

1

while you are trouble-shooting the paint-blocked soffits, you might check that they are not blocked inside your attic, especially if you have blown-in insulation. Check that you have "rafter vents" installed which provide for unobstructed ventilation from the soffits.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.