Why Roof Intake & Exhaust Vents Matter for Your Roof (2024 Homeowners Guide)

May 7th, 2019 BY First American Roofing

One of the most important services a roofer can provide is tailoring the needs of your home with the materials and design layout of your roof. This means that based on the shape or design of your roof, you may require different elements or features to ensure your roofing system works correctly.

You may think that all roofs are created equal, but this isn’t exactly the case. While each roof in your neighborhood may be high in quality, many will vary in terms of the overall layout. Things like gutters, insulation, flashing, and ventilation may vary depending on your roof’s structure and functionality. Today we’ll be focusing mainly on the importance of proper roof ventilation and what to consider the next time you replace your roof.

For example, some homes need the addition of roof intake vents as well as exhaust vents—as was the case in the home featured in the video below.

Today, we’ll discuss why some homes require this extra source of ventilation and what issues could arise if the proper intake ventilation isn’t installed. First, let’s break down the difference between exhaust and intake vents.

Roof Intake Vents vs. Exhaust Vents

Roofs require proper ventilation because, without it, moisture can build up causing:

Poor ventilation is also one of the main causes of recurrent ice dams on homes.

Roof intake vents and exhaust vents help to ensure proper airflow and ventilation in your attic to help prevent such issues. They do, however, have some differences that are good to know before installing.

What Are Exhaust Vents?

Exhaust vents are used to ensure airflow from the attic to the outside of the home. When they are properly installed, the air in the attic and ventilation spaces will exit the home and move to the exterior of the house.

Exhaust vents are crucial to ensuring that your home has clean air, as it pulls odors, fumes, and moisture from the air and pushes it outside.

Exhaust vents also help reduce the risk of ice dams developing on your roof. Having an exhaust vent installed will help transfer that extra moisture outside of your home helping to manage the internal temperature and prevent ice dams.

metal exhaust vent on roof

What Are Intake Vents?

Air intake vents are used to allow outside air to enter into attics and ventilation spaces. Intake vents should be located along a roof assembly’s lowest eaves at or near soffits.

Intake vents are best used with exhaust vents that are located at or near a roof assembly’s peak. This configuration of ventilation air intake along low points and exhaust at high points takes advantage of natural convection.

Air intake vents help prevent moisture from building up in your attic’s joist bays, which is crucial to ensuring the structural integrity of your home.

Now that you understand the difference between intake and exhaust vents, it’s important to consider whether or not you need roof intake vents.

roof intake vents on roof

Warning Signs of a Poorly Ventilated Roof

There are two big things that homeowners should know when it comes to their roof. First, they should know the warning signs of a roof leak, and second, signs of poor ventilation in the roof. Knowing what to look for is vital to catching issues early before extensive damage takes place.

If your roof is poorly ventilated, you might notice the following:

These can also be signs of shingle damage or a roof leak, but either way, there’s something going on in your attic. A well-ventilated attic will uphold the integrity of your home by keeping the wood dry and sturdy, preventing leaks in the shingles, preventing damaging ice dams, and keeping a consistent temperature across the entire attic.

If you ever want to store things in your attic, this is also a good reason to ensure it’s properly ventilated and temperature controlled.

Man cleaning dirty moss-covered roof because of poor roof intake vent install

What Happens if You Don’t Have Roof Intake Vents Installed?

With the home in the video above, we investigated the attic and saw that the layout inside meant that an exhaust vent system wasn’t going to be enough. This is something that may only be found with a trained eye during a professional inspection—so when in doubt, always bring a professional roofer in to take a look.

In this case, to ensure the safety of the home, an intake vent is needed. Without an intake vent, this home would have run the risk of ice dams in the winter. This is because the temperature of the roof would have been warmer near the top of the roof and colder near the bottom. This is the primary reason for the formation of ice dams.

formation of ice dam because of poor roof intake vent install

In addition, without an intake vent, the shingles will become way too hot and will, therefore, go through more wear and tear and will not last as long.

To break it down, a roof that is not properly ventilated will trap heat right under the roof. While you may not think this is a huge problem because “keeping the heat in your home is good, right?” Wrong. You want to keep heat in your home, but the last thing you want is to have it trapped at the top of your home. Roofs that are poorly insulated may have the opposite problem. They’ll have a hard time keeping the heat in, ultimately boosting your heating expense.

Ultimately, finding the balance isn’t that difficult if you know what you are doing. Catching this problem before winter comes can save you a lot of money, and a massive headache. Properly insulating your home and adding roof intake vents costs a fraction of what it would be to repair your home from ice dam damage.

First American Roofing and Siding — the Premier La Crosse Home Contractor

Here at First American, we like to say that your home is more than the reason you send a mortgage check each month.

It’s what puts a roof over your head. It’s a place where you and your family can be safe from the elements — as well as where you’ll create lifelong memories with them.

Because of this, it is essential that your home remains secure and that all the little details are exactly right to ensure the integrity and quality of the home.

First American Roofing knows this.

That’s why we are 100% committed to using the best products, the best warranties, and the best crew in the business to make sure that you have a home that is durable and can withstand the elements that the Midwest throws your way.

Whether it’s roofing or siding, windows, doors, skylights, roof snow/ice dam removal, or even cleaning the exterior surfaces of your home, First American Roofing is your partner in making your home more beautiful.

First American Roofing is proud to be among the 2% of contractors nationwide that have attained GAF Master Elite status. Not only can you rest assured that you will be working with trained, expert installers, but the Master Elite status also enables us to offer the finest warranties in the industry.

If you’re looking to renovate your roof or siding, then contact First American today. You’ll be glad you did.