By Gene and Katie Hamilton
Need to increase the air flow in the attic? The flow of fresh air across roof shingles draws hot, moist attic air out through a ridge vent and pulls fresh air into the attic through soffit vents. This roof ventilation is important because it allows air to circulate in the attic so there’s a balance of air intake and exhaust. This movement of air reduces cooling costs and eliminates potential damage to the roof shingles. While most new homes are built with a continuous ridge vent along the peak of the roof for this purpose, some older homes are not.
Here's the cost data: To install a 50-foot long ridge vent a roofing contractor will charge $400, which includes the labor and material. If you’re a handy homeowner who has experience working on roofing projects, you can buy the ridge vent material for $155 and install it yourself, saving 61 percent, a nice reward for your work. Not all homeowners are comfortable working on a roof, so if you are the least bit hesitant, hire a roofing contractor for this job.
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The best time to install a ridge vent is when installing a new roof, but it’s possible to add one to an existing roof. Installation involves cutting into the shingles and then inserting and fastening the vent within the shingles, being careful not to cut into the roof rafters. You’ll need a circular saw, chalk line, utility knife, roofing nails, caulk and, of course, a ladder. Don’t even think about doing this job by yourself if you have a steeply pitched roof.
Watch Fine Homebuilding's video Replacing a Roof and How to Cut and Instll a Ridge Vent.
The average price to install a ridge vent noted above is cost data to compare a contractor’s estimate with doing it yourself. Tweak the data by adding your ZIP Code to find a local cost.
Improvement and Repair Cost Updated 2020