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Question DetailsAsked on 8/3/2014

600 sqft attic has three 8" roof vents but no intake, plus I have no soffits. How do I install intake vents?

House built in 1983, roof is only 2 years old.

I assume I need some sort of intake air vent. Why would they build a house without intake air vents?

I don't have any soffits, just gutters right up against the roof. Those "behind-the-gutter" vents would seem like a real pain to install because I'd have to remove all the existing gutters, right?

What other type of intake vents can I install?

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8 Answers


If the house is a gable design, gable vents will work. Short of that, that's a design flaw.

Answered 5 years ago by Roofman1


Roofman1, yes, it's a gable design. I thought the intake needed to be near the bottom of the attic so the attic gets proper air flow.

I live in a neighborhood just outside Boulder, CO where there's only 3 house so if my house design is flawed then the whole neighborhood is flawed. No one in the neighborhood has soffits or gable vents, just roof vents.

Answered 5 years ago by elyders


Maybe flawed isn't the most apropriate word, however, I can think of several others none of which answers your question. In the case of not being able to install ventilation within the shingle manufacturers requirements means you have no warranty in the event of a shingle failure due to manufacturer defects. Gable vents are typically used for exhaust ventilation, but in this case, because of the $#&* design of the structure, I don't know of a practical solution to the intake part of a static system. The behind the gutter type you mentioned I would steer clear of personally due to the potential of water damage especially with the snow building up and then melting where you live. Gable vents, one on each end will get you a lot closer to specs than without them, that's for sure.

Answered 5 years ago by Roofman1


Roofman1, thank you for your response.

My main concern is whether I'm going to mess something up by trying to add vents to the attic. I assume I need to somehow get some intake vents installed... and preferably near the bottom of the attic space so the air flows upwards.

Is it also just as important to have intake vents all around the attic, or can I get by with intake vents in only part of the attic? Half of the attic is accessible, but the other half is pretty much closed off because my living room has a cathedral ceiling.

What kind of contractor would I call for this if I start getting overwhelmed? A roofer?

Answered 5 years ago by elyders


I am at a loss here - are you saying your house has no roof overhang - zero eave ? Thought that went out with the 1800's hip roofs. Is there a chance of posting a couple of photos - one showing pretty much the entire house from outside, then another from just below the edge of the roof showing the roof and top of the wall ? You can post using the Answer This Question button right below your question - post photos using the left-most yellow icon right above the Your Answer box.

IF you truly have no roof overhang, which in my opinion means the architect should be strung up from the rafters - oh right, no rafter tails to do that, then this should have been either built as an air-conditioned attic space building like a normal flat-roof building, or ventilated as an insulated flat roof - with turbine or airscoop ventilators. I will go further than the prior commenters - failing to provide ventilation in an unconditioned attic space IS a flawed design, and should not have passed city inspection.

On a gabled roof of course gable-end vents would be a possibility, but of course does not do as good a job. I have seen some retrofits on low-slope gabled roofs where a plywood baffle wall was built low down on the roof oneach side a couple of feet from the outside wall, connected to large gable vents on the gable walls just above the attic floor level, with vent openings about the same size as eave openings in each rafter bay - basically building an air plenum inside the attic on both sides with eave openings into the attic. Works, not overly tough to build, but does not provide an even airflow into each rafter bay. On long roofs this could be supplemented with a fan blowing into the plenum, like is done on some large flat roofs.

One other possibility is a combination dripedge / vent like this - which is basically a better-looking version of the old solution for this type of situation where a series of 1-2" holes used to be drilled near the top of the fascia board to provide ventilation into the rafter space.

The key is not putting in a ventilation system that lets water into the house envelope under ANY conditions - including heavy dripping and splashing into the gutter (which proper dripedge extension down into the backwall of the gutter can avoid), and gutter overflow - which can be avoided by slightly tilting the gutter forward so it has to overflow over the front, which should always be done anyway. BTW - with several people (or just one with vinyl) taking your gutters down to put up behind the gutter vents is not too tough - just unscrew and lay onthe roof edge while working, then hold back in palce and replace screws - a 2-3 man crew should be able to disconnect from downspouts and remove all your gutters in 1/2-1 hour on a normal sized homes, and a bit longer to replace them when ready.

DCI Products makes a thing called SmartVent, which was originally designed to vent at steps in roofing and dormers and sheds roofs and brow vents ansuch, but can also be used in your situation. I would certainly do a very conservative ice and water shield over the top of it under the underlayment if I used it in that environment, and be sure there is no ponding possibility on the uphill side - website here -

There is also a product out there I have used a couple of times some years ago on commerical buildings but could not find the name of on the web real quick today, which is a factory pre-painted metal-faced plastic PVC as I recall) screw-on replacement fascia board which totally replaces the existing fascia board, and has louvered openings with louver bay drip-drainage out the bottom to let air in along pretty much the full surface of the fascia board - which pretty much matches the amount of ventilation area you would get with conventional open eaves. You then pre-drill pilot holes and screw the gutter to it, or through it into the ends of the rafters for icing condition oversize guttering. You cannot nail into it without damaging it.

One other solution I have seem but never used, and would NOT be suitable in very cold climates, is a screened louvered "rainproof" vent at the top of the wall in each rafter bay, through the outer house wall siding into the upper part of the wall, venting through a sealed plenum to vent holes drilled in the top of the wall plate. There are scupper and flush vents made for this type of purpose, though used a lot more in boats than houses, which look a bit like the gooseneck dryer vent housings that fit into stud spaces to accept the dryer vent at the bottom and then have an outlet fitting at the top, and slide into the wall cavity. This would effectively put "eaves" below the raftes, opening into the rafter bays. NOT a good idea in cold areas as the top of the wall willfreeze through its thickness, causing frosting on the top of the wall and maybe that edge of the ceiling.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD


Here's some photos of the roof line. There's absolutely no overhang on any of the houses in my neighborhood.

Also, here's one end of the attic where I thought I could add some intake air vents at the bottom of the attic space (where the gray and brown meet):

Answered 5 years ago by elyders


Thank you VERY much for the photos - it was quite educational, though more than a little depressing that a builder and architect would turn out such a design - looks more like a shed or barn construction.

Wow - looks like some builder was sure skimping on roof costs here, with no eave or gable roof overhangs.

Guess I can't say much more than I already have - none of the solutions except maybe the over-the-top through-sheathing vent or mushroom vents look easy to do, especially with the gigantic piece of trim below the gutters - like a rake board on the eave side. With the way yours is built, I am not sure even the behind the gutter type would work easily - would have to tear into it to see.

I do know if this was my house, I would strip off the last 4 feet or so all around, put on a gable overhang, and extend the rafters by doubling up with sistered rafters on each side of the existing ones (or possibly just by sistering one by each existing one if you are not too picky about looks) to give a 3 foot overhang and then put in conventional eave vents and replace the gutter. However, that is because I could do it myself for probably $1000 worth or so of materials - probably looking at about $5000 rough ballpark to have it done professionally, and I would not be surprised to see bid twice that amount. And it would result in a funny looking single job unless you chose to intentially mismatch the shingle colors, because you certainly don't want to redo a new roof. I would say 2 years ago your roofer did you no favor by not proposing ventilation - or maybe he did and you thought it was upselling and did not want to hear it, whicih I can understand in that circumstance when you are already forking over $5-10K for a new roof.

At this point, for low cost and assuming you are not in a real cold winter climate (so attic frosting and condensation is less of an issue), I would probably suggest large gable vents (VERY rainproof ones, since lacking gable overhang - or maybe even built with a little shed roof over them to block rain) feeding air to standard shingle ridge vents as being a lot better than nothing as far as air inlet goes. And probably, if in a cold/snowy area, an intake vent hood into the attic fairly low on the roof (but not in ice dam area) in any rafter bay with a lot of heat sources like fan vents or furnace duct up through the attic.

btw - the mushroom vents I was talking about, which are NOT good in heavy snow or ice damming country, look like in following link (the lower passive vents), but would make for a funny row of vents along the roofline on each eave side, so unless you know you have moisture, frosting, or excessive heat in the attic probably would not consider them. To be effective would probably have to put in about every other rafter bay at least, which makes for a lot of them and a lot of potential future leak sources. Also, a row of vents like this points to an attic heator moisture problem, so you would have to be prepared to explain them come resale time, which could turn into an issue -

Answered 5 years ago by LCD


Ridge vents

Gable vents

Then replace fascia with a Fypon venting fascia .. shown is the corner piece but this will lead you to the straight piece

Next time you reshingle, 86 the round vents & send them to the previous installer as his new yard art objects

Answered 5 years ago by tgivaughn

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