Roof replacement & ventilation problem, what do I need?

I just bought a home in February, built in 1968, and we just found out the entire shingle roof needs to be replaced. I am told it looks to be only about 10 years old but because of poor installation and bad ventilation it’s got to be redone.

It’s a 1540 sq ft ranch, has two gable vents at either end of the attic and a non-working power vent in the middle backside of the roof. It has no soffit vents at all.

I have gotten five estimates and I’m terribly confused. Three roofers suggested ridge vents without even mentioning soffit vents. One originally said ridge vents, but backed up when he saw there were no soffit vents and instead said I needed to add 6 more static vents, replace the power vent and leave the gable vents as they are. The last one told me about the whole ridge/soffit vent combination, but doesn’t install the soffit vents.

I am finding a lot of info. online but nothing seems to address how you can get gable vents to be a viable option, everything mentions soffit vents.

Can I work something proper out with the existing gable vents and potential addition of static vents? Do I even need a power vent? Or must I go the ridge route and get someone to install soffits? Also, if I do get them installed is that best done before or after the roof replacement?

I have just enough to cover the average of all the estimates on the replacement and I am really concerned about the cost of installing soffit vents on top of that. Not to mention I have no clue who to call to do it and do it correctly.

Thanks for responses,

Paula, I am a believer in gable vents. Dennis and GTAPE are, too. As long as youre moving the air in and out, and the manufacturer of your shingles approves, them, and the turnover rate is enough, then I like them a lot.

Ridge vent is ok, but the actual venting of it can be less than desired.


Check out airvent ridgevent site. .
Lots of homeowner info. If redoing your roof and soffits can be put in, I would surely put them in. They are a very minor cost in comparison to the entire roof. Proper ventilation consists of air intake and air exhaust. You don’t have 1 of the parts of the system. Warranties on the shingles can be voided without proper balance of the air flow system.

Ridge vent is ok ??? Ridge vent (when applied properly and where it will work correctly and with soffits) will outperform any static or power vent and be the best ventilation system you can have.

I found alot of contractors don’t like to do the soffits so they just put back in what was there previously which back in the day ventilation was not as big of an issue as it is now. It doesn’t surprise me to hear 3 roofers not talk about them at all.

Well, that’s good to here because I’d definitely prefer to keep the gable vents and not have to go the soffit/ridge vent route if I don’t have to. I’ve just gotta find a way to get more ventilation with the gable vents I have during this whole re-roofing.

Timothy, I didn’t see your reply when I just posted to Aaron, but I’d definitely have to get the soffit vent estimate before I can consider going that route. I really am on a tight budget just because I’ve already put out another 3k on other unrelated work that missed inspection. So this roof thing is hitting at a bad time.

timothy, please show me emperical data to support your theory.

nobody has EVER been able to show me any real world research/testing/measured compilations to support this “ridge vent is the best” ideal.

oh boyy…here we go again :roll: …you ae going to find that 1/2 of the roofers feel one way and half of the roofers feel another. this has been debated to great lengths on here over the years.

Im not even bothering with this anymore. I have stated my 2 cents on this subject 5 times in the last year. You guys have fun arguing about it. WHile i go out and make some money.

look at cfm of each product.

I looked at the archives and I agree GTP - no beating this to death.

I didn’t mean to stir the stew, I do see it’s been discussed often here. I have actually done all the google searches I can think of and nothing seems to explain how gable vents can be used effectively, it’s almost all “must have soffit vents for proper intake”. Either that or just straight out adverts extolling the virtues of ridge and soffit vents.

I do want to point out that I wasn’t trying to be lazy by posting and asking for advice. I have a 4 yr. old, 18 month old and my husband is deployed so I have very little internet time. I’m also a first time homeowner and have spent the last 4 weeks absorbed in this, researching local contractors, BBB, state license,and now this. Not trying to paint a sob story, I’m just truly perplexed by the mixed bag of answers I got from the estimate. Only wanted to come here to actually discuss realistic options.

Yes, it was foolish of me to buy this house on my own right now and listen to my realtors and home inspector :x . So, again, I appreciate you taking the time to respond, I will continue to look through the archives and see if I can find anything that applies to my situation.

"I can think of and nothing seems to explain how gable vents can be used effectively, it’s almost all “must have soffit vents for proper intake”. "

pmac,try this link

as for voided warranties and " balanced ventilation "
this thread, near the bottom

In your case I would leave the gable vents, add the ridge vent, and at a later date when affordable, add the soffit vents if possible. By “if possible”, I mean if you have the soffit area in which to install the soffit venting. If there is no soffit area under the eave in which to install the vents, it would be better to install either the DCI smart vent or fascia vent when you replace the roof.

Good luck and thank your husband for us.

In an established, built up city like mine in Massachusetts, most of the ridge vents I see are for show. Do as the romans do. Very few even have soffit vents. I’ve installed a bunch of roofs with no ventilation and I’m not afraid to say it. These houses are 100 years old. Real Estate is at a premium here, so houses in the city have attics that have been finished and insulation has been put in the walls and closed up. To have an effective ventilation system you’d have to gut the house practically, thats just fact. I’m going out today to take pictures of roofs with NO VENTILATION from 12 years ago that I did, and they still look like theyre brand new. And the ice and water barrier takes care of the ice dams. I’m not suggesting there is no merit to ventilation, what I’m saying is that if the cost to truly achieve the ventilation required for a warranty to be upheld exceeds the cost of the roof itself, then what is the point? Every house is different. Furthermore, I have been told by customers with no ventilation that their existing roofs were 30 years old because they were old enough that they had them done that time…

marshall says, “oh boyy…here we go again”.
make gweedo laugh.
ahh florida,



Want more proof of what I say? How do you vent a 4 hipped roof? Do as the romans do! Lets say you put the intakes in the soffits, and you use a power vent or louver vents for exhausts… now, if it is a finished attic, you have essentially vented the area between two rafters per exhaust vent and the rest is unvented… all this venting stuff is way overrated. I only do it because they say I have to.

Still more, Lefty nailed what I’m talking about right here, I just never read it before…

It might be over-rated in you mind but it is there for a reason. I strongly disagree with putting in ridge vent without any soffit vents. You WILL cut the roof in half and half will be vented and the rest will not be. This will void the warranty of the roof from the man. As foir the does as the romans do, do you jump off of bridges when other do it??? I respect you dennis you know that. But i can not just sit here and let you give that advise knowing that she will be without a warranty. I would like to chat with otu about this on the phone rather than type this.

As far as the non-working power vent. The reaosn this does not work anymore is the fact there is not a soffit system in place to allow airlfow. I checked with lamanco and thats what the rep was telling me at the trade show 2 weeks ago. Pmac the best money you can spend is to do it right the the first time and not worry about it. If money is the issue then 2 options come to mind, get a loan to do the job and write off the intrest or wait and save it up. Alot of guys just throw it together and dont worry about what happens down the road. May i suggest going to air vent a maker of ridge vent to help clairify some questions you may have. DCI products also has similar information to read about. But adding the ridge vent without soffit vents is not a good idea.

How about you send me the length and width of the home and some pics so i can give you a solid way of doing this while maintaining the warranty of the shingles. Sorry for the novel but im kinda like doing things the right way the first time.

It wasn’t Dennis, it was me. I have a habit of speaking to roofers in here sometimes and forgetting there are consumers here.

At any rate, my point is that if there is insulation in the walls under the roof, NONE of them are going to work. I have never ever seen a 4 hipped roof with a finished attic with ventilation, whether an attempt was made or not. If you think of a way to do it, let me know.

And I’m not suggesting to a customer that they just accept no warranty. However, in the situation I am referring to, to bring these houses to compliance with manufacturers specifications requires one of two things;

A.) remove ALL the roof sheathing, put in some cora-vents to create passage between the roof deck and the insulation, replace all sheathing, reroof it.


B.) tear down sheet rock, plaster, or whatever is covering the exterior walls under the roof, pull out all the insulation, refinish walls. Even this is oversimplifying it, ever see three layers of wall coverings? I have. So now do you have to replace flooring, or any number of a million other things that happen when you start digging

So, if the cost to bring the house to manufacturers specifications exceeds the warranty’s value, well there is a legitimate decision to make, isn’t there?

I didn’t suggest that I ever installed a ridge vent without a soffit vent. What I said is that based on my observation, the vast majority of ridge vents that I see are non-functioning. When I come to this situation, it’s the customers choice. If there is insulation between the rafters IT IS NOT GOING TO VENT. Period. If they want to still pay me to install a non-functioning vent, hey I’m all for it, I need the work. But I don’t need any seminars to see what works and what doesn’t, its common sense to me.

And to any consumers, what I am saying will never be endorsed by any manufacturers, I intended it for professional roofers that can distinguish differences in situations.

this is what i was saying sev.

As far as if there is insulation, it is costly to remove the deck to install baffles if there are soffit vents.

I see another 8 page thread coming on !!!

I don’t think anybody here does not know how to roof. I think the mere fact that all of us professional roofers debate these things so often signifies that ventilation is NOT an EXACT science. I was the one that said “do as the romans do.” Meaning that the manufacturer says to do it, so I do it, but a lot of times, I know that the cost to make it really function exceeds it worth.