Attic Ventilation – What are the best kind of vents to use?

Attic ventilation is important for so many reasons. Improper ventilation can reduce shingle life and cause ice damming, in turn causing damage to the roof structure.

Besides the placement and capacity of attic ventilators, the style can make a huge difference to the effectiveness of the ventilation, and even potential damage to the property.

Square Roof Louvers

Square Roof Louvers, often called “mushroom vents” or “turtle vents”, are the most common roof vents installed and are very popular with roofers. They are light, easy to install and inexpensive. The problem is, they don’t actually work very well in Edmonton winters where they typically get buried in snow. They are designed more for the southern United States, where they don’t have to worry about high snow levels in the winter.

Square Louver Vent
Ridge Venting

Ridge Vents

Ridge venting is an excellent way to vent the attic space until it gets covered in snow. This prevents them from being an ideal choice for Edmonton winters. Again, this style of venting is designed for southern climes where large amounts of snow isn’t an issue.

Turbine Vents

Turbine vents, or “whirly-birds”, are great at ventilating and stick nice and high above the snow. The main issue with these is they need to move freely to function properly and to keep out rain. Because they have moving parts, they can get jammed and they have been known to let water into attic spaces. The spinning action is designed to keep out rainwater, but is not 100% effective.

We know of one case where a turbine vent let in a lot of water during a particularly bad storm. The water soaked into the insulation and the insulation became so heavy that it caved in the kitchen ceiling.

Turbine Vent
Duraflo Pro Turbo vent

Duraflo Pro Turbo Vents

These are great vents that do not potentially let water in like turbine vents do. They have no moving parts and stay high above the snow on your roof. One of these vents can often replace several louver type vents. These caps, however, are made of plastic and will degrade over time. Even “UV resistant” plastic will become brittle from the sun after a while. Inspect at least once a year, and especially after hail storm events.

Maximum Ventilation Vents

Designed and engineered in Quebec, Maximum Ventilation‘s metal ventilation products are engineered and made for Canadian weather conditions, and are more durable than any other product on the market. Their roof top vents are so efficient that one unit can take the place of 3 regular turbine vents. Other ventilation products made of plastic or thin aluminum can be easily damaged. The standard low attic vent so commonly used gets covered in snow in the winter and can’t function when most needed to prevent ice damming.

Maximum Ventilation also makes a product that replaces turbine vents by simply removing the spinning portion and installing one of their caps in its place. Find out more about these replacement heads.

Maximum Ventilation

In Conclusion

While no specific signs of poor ventilation may be noted in the attic, keep an eye on the attic for signs of poor ventilation, such as frost build up in the winter or excessive heat in the summer. If these are noted then consider increasing the ventilation of the attic. Increasing the attic ventilation will extend the life expectancy of roof covering, cool the living space in the summer, and most importantly, reduce the likelihood of ice damming and attic frosting in the winter.