While many homeowners may think that a high-quality shingle is all that’s needed to have a good, protective roof— they couldn’t be more wrong. Your entire roofing system is vital to prolonging the life of your roof and keeping you and your family safe from the elements. Parts of your roofing system include:
- Roof decking
- Plumbing boots
- Gutters and downspouts
- Soffit and fascia
- And, very importantly, roof vents
Proper roof vent installation is a vital component of your roof and is necessary to keep your attic well-ventilated. When your attic is poorly ventilated, it can lead to mold growth, wood rot, curled shingles, and even higher bills (ouch).
Today, we’ll walk you through how to install a roof vent with existing asphalt shingles. It’s relatively DIY-friendly as long as you follow these steps.
What Are Roof Vents?
Just so we don’t get ahead of ourselves, it’s essential to know what a roof vent is, what it does, and what types of vents are important to keep your roof and attic well-ventilated.
Roof vents, by definition, remove hot air and moisture from your attic. But they are so much more than that, and the variety in types of roof vents also can significantly affect installation, cost, and efficiency.
While some vents can be motorized and wired into your home, others use wind, solar, or natural convection to vent your attic space. That leads us to the most popular types or styles of roof vents.
A box vent is probably one of the most common or well-recognized roof vents. Box vents have a screened opening that allows air to flow in and out and are square-shaped (yes, like a box).
These are often used in addition to other types of roof vents, as they don’t provide as much air movement as some of the others. But they are very easy to install, repair, and replace, so they are a frequent top choice for many homeowners.
The ridge of your roof is the very tippy top point, and this is a prime spot to install vents as all the hot air in your attic will naturally go to the top of your roof, and without anywhere to escape, it can get quite hot. Ridge vents are installed right on top of your roof vent before shingles are laid on top. It creates excellent airflow on either side of your roof’s ridge, allowing all that trapped air to escape. Plus, ridge vents can be very well-hidden on your roof if you want a sleek look.
Off Ridge Vents
On the other hand, off-ridge vents sit just below your roof ridge. They are longer and wider than a box vent but help release hot air near the top of your attic and can often release more air than a standard ridge vent.
Power vents are exactly what they sound like—they use power (usually from your home) to help circulate air and remove hot air and moisture. These can come in several forms, including ridge vents, gable-end vents, box vents, or soffit vents. Power vents can be great if you live in an area with little to no wind or if you have a particularly large attic.
The soffits that sit under the roof’s eaves or overhangs of your roof are an easy way to add even more ventilation to your attic. They allow air to escape near your attic floors while keeping out rodents and other pests. They go pretty unnoticed as they are just blended in with your soffits. Keeping these free from any insulation or boxes stored in the attic is vital since blocking the soffit vent can significantly diminish your ventilation efficiency.
Wind turbines, or whirligigs, are another very recognizable type of roof vent. You might think of a barn or old farmhouse when you think of turbine vents, as they are prevalent in those older homes. These large round vents go on top of your roof and have a small turbine that rotates in the wind, helping to pull out all that heat from your attic. They are easy to install but can be a bit more visible than some of the other types of vents.
The Importance of Good Roof Ventilation
An improperly ventilated roof can cause overheating in the summer, trapped moisture which shortens the life of the shingles, and cause recurrent ice dams to form in the winter, which is also bad for the integrity of your shingles and puts a lot of pressure on your gutter system.
How to Install a Roof Vent With (Existing) Asphalt Shingles
Now that you have your base, it’s time to tackle your roof vent installation. But first things first, you need a few vital materials and tools to get the job done right.
- 1-inch roofing nails
- 1/4-inch drill bit
- Caulk gun + caulk
- Extension ladder
- Grease pencil
- Nail gun w/ air compressor
- Pry bar
- Roof and flashing sealant
For the sake of simplicity, we will be walking through the basic steps of installing a box vent, which can also be applied to installing an off-ridge and wind turbine vent as well. They all get installed off the roof’s ridge amongst the shingles and require flashing and shingle re-installation.
Step 1: Get Up on the Roof 🪜
The first step is always the hardest, but you need to get up on the roof to take some measurements and make sure everything is good to go before you start cutting into your shingles. Make sure to bring all of your materials and tools up with you, so you don’t have to make multiple trips— a good tool belt can be a huge help.
Safety Note: Always work with a buddy! Having someone to hold the ladder and lend a helping hand is vital to ensuring proper roofing safety.
Step 2: Mark the Spot You Want to Install ✏️
You can now mark the spot where you will cut into your shingles to install the roof vent. Using a grease pencil and ruler, mark the outline of the vent opening on the shingles around it. The outline should only include your vent opening and not include the vent flange since that will go under your shingles.
Some people may remove the shingles before marking the outline, but that would require cutting the shingles to size afterward. A jigsaw should cut through all the layers, and you’ll be able to fit it right into place (step 4).
Step 3: Remove the Old Vent if Necessary 🗑️
If you’re replacing an old vent, go ahead and remove that in place of step 2. This should leave you with a pre-cut hole to place your new vent.
Step 4: Cut the New Vent Hole (Shingles and All) 🕳️
Now it’s time to cut a hole for your new vent. You will be cutting through all the shingles and any other material in your way, so make sure you’re comfortable with that before proceeding. The best way to make your cuts is with a jigsaw, allowing you to maneuver around obstacles easily.
Step 5: Pry Up Surrounding Shingles 🔨
Using a pry bar, go around the perimeter of your new vent hole and pry up any surrounding shingles. You should only need to pry them up about 1/4 inch or so— just enough so that you can slip the vent flange underneath.
Step 6: Place Your Roof Vent in Position 🙌
Now it’s time to put your vent into position. Place the vent flange underneath the pried-up shingles and center it over the hole you just cut. If everything looks good, go ahead and nail it down with 1-inch roofing nails placed around the perimeter.
Step 7: Apply Your Roof and Flashing Sealant 🖌️
Once the vent flange is in place, you can now apply your roof and flashing sealant around the perimeter. Make sure to follow the instructions on your sealant so that it dries properly.
Step 8: Secure the Shingles Back in Place 🛠️
Now you can go ahead and re-secure the shingles around your new vent. This can be done with 1-inch roofing nails placed every few inches around the perimeter.
Hiring a Professional Roofer to Get the Job Done
If the thought of getting up on your roof and cutting through your shingles doesn’t sound like fun, you can always hire a professional roofer to get the job done. This is always the best option if you’re not comfortable working on your roof, as it can be a dangerous place to be.
A sound roof vent installation can be the difference between your roof lasting vs. facing issues in the next few years. Keep your attic ventilated and those energy bills down with help from Clean Cut Roofing.
Our roof installation team is the best in the biz, and we ensure you get only the best, most up-to-date materials and installation techniques so you can rest assured your roof will last. Reach out today to schedule a roofing inspection and estimate.