Maintaining your attic at ambient
outside air temperature is crucial for keeping your home energy efficient.
Installing gable vents in your attic can help significantly in keeping your
attic cooler during the hot summer months. Gable vents also provide value
during the winter months as well.
An extremely hot attic, due to inadequate attic ventilation, causes your air
conditioning system to work much harder to keep the upper finished levels of
your home cool and comfortable. That extra effort translates into higher
home energy costs.
An extremely hot attic is also detrimental to your home’s roofing shingles. High
temperatures in the attic can dramatically shorten the life of asphalt shingles,
and can eventually lead to roof leaks and water damage to your home.
In the cold winter months gable vents also play a role in protecting your home.
Gable vents, working in concert with soffit vents, help to keep you attic at
outside ambient air temperature. The gable vents help to draw out warm moist air
that may work its way up into your attic from the finished lower levels of the
home. By helping to ensure the attic stays at outside ambient air temperature,
the risk of ice dams forming on the roof eaves is significantly mitigated. Ice
dams form when warm moist air from the lower levels of the house gets trapped in
the attic. The warm moist air heats up the roof sheathing and causes the snow
that is in direct contact with the roof shingles to melt. When it does, it runs
down to the roof eaves where it then freezes. Over time this melting and
refreezing cycle creates ice dams that can lead to water damage in your home.
The ice dams can also cause damage to the roof shingles.
Warm moist air trapped in an attic, due to the lack of gable vents or ridge
vents, can also lead to mold and mildew growth in the attic, which is both
detrimental to the home and to the health of its occupants. As the warm
moist air rises in the attic and comes in contact with the cooler
temperature roof sheathing and roof rafters, it will condense and form small
water droplets that stay attached to the wood lumber. These water droplets
can, and often do, act as miniature Petri dishes for growing mold.
Gable vents, as the name implies, are located on the gable ends of a
home. They are typically located near the peak of the roof. In some cases
they are the sole attic vents, which is a mistake. The soffit vents are
necessary to help draw cool air into the attic, and the gable vents, or
ridge vents are used to expel the rising warm air from the attic.
Gable Vent Types
Gable vents, as already suggested above, are an alternative to installing
ridge vents. Ridge vents run along the entire peak of a roof line. Gable
vents serve a similar purpose as the ridge vents, drawing heat from the
attic, but are also more aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Gable vents come
in a variety of shapes, styles and sizes and are constructed out of various
materials including; wood, vinyl or metal. The most common gable vent shapes
are rectangular and octagon. The gable vents have a series of slats, or
louvers on them to prevent rain, snow and wind from entering into the attic.
They also typically have a screen attached to their back side to prevent
insects, bats and other rodents from entering the attic.
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Some more sophisticated gable vents
also include fans that help to expel the hot air out of the attic and to draw
cool air in via the soffit vents. Alternatively, one gable vent on one side of
the house may have a fan to draw outside air into the attic, and the other gable
vent on the opposite side of the home may have a fan to expel air from the
Gable Vent Installation
Gable vents are typically installed during the construction of the home.
However, they can also be retrofitted into the home if additional attic venting
is deemed necessary. To install gable vents into an existing gable wall, a 2x4
or 2x6 frame has to be installed in the attic to support the gable vent. Then
the house sheathing and siding needs to be cut out to slide the gable vent into
the 2x4 or 2x6 gable vent frame. It is then nailed into place and the exterior
house siding patched. An exterior grade caulk should then be used to caulk
around the outside perimeter of the gable vent.
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