How to Replace a Roof Vent: Step by Step Guide

Box Vent2 Lg

The vent system is very crucial for a comfortable home environment. It ensures that the air inside the home is always comfortable, but it also ensures that the roof’s longevity is intact and the energy consumption is regulated.

There are several types of roof vents, and installation will vary based on the type of roof venting you have. To replace a roof box vent:

  1. lift or remove the shingled around the roof vent
  2. remove nails that hold the vent tightly in place
  3. slide the old vent box out of the shingles
  4. slide in the new box vent
  5. nail down the new box vent
  6. reinstall the shingles around the vent and use roofing cement to secure the shingles in place
  7. apply caulk on the nails to prevent any leakage

Most roof vents are low profile, but when you stroll around the hood, you will not miss seeing the different assortment of appliances sitting or protruding out of the roofs from different angles and installed on the soffit ridge or peak of the roof.

What Exactly Is A Roof Vent & Are They Necessary?

Roof and attic venting systems are uncomplicated and necessary because they are the secret behind regulated home temperatures no matter the season and lower energy consumption.

In summer, when it is hot, the hot air rises and leaves the attic through the vent on the roof, and during winter, when the air is thick and heavy, a vented attic traps the warm air emanating from the living quarters below, enabling snow on the roof to melt away quickly.

An attic is a place at home we rarely visit and can be easily neglected until a stain appears on the ceiling or energy consumption goes high.

There are two important types of air ventilation in the attic;

  1. Active ventilation
  2. Passive ventilation

Active Ventilation

Attic active ventilation or mechanical ventilation is powered by turbines, electricity, and solar and works by pulling or pushing stale air out of the attic. They are mostly installed on top of the roof and are generally larger than natural ventilation.

Passive Ventilations

Passive attic ventilation, also known as natural ventilation, is the type of vent that depends on natural forces like the wind. Convection naturally draws in cool, fresh air while expelling hot, stale air from the attic.

Examples are static vents, ridge vents without baffle, and gable end vents.

In both exhaust and intake vents, the end purpose is to regulate air circulation and ensure the building structure’s safety from moisture damage.

Here are some of the problems you may face if you fail to vent your roof:

  1. Moisture build-up in the attic leads to molds’ growth inside the attic and eventual rooting of the wooden roof framework.
  2. Damage to insulation and the ceilings through dampening.
  3. Snow/ice dams on the roof for long periods lead to the damage of shingles, fascia, and gutters leading to a shorter roof lifespan.
  4. Moisture build-up in the attic results in unregulated home temperatures leading to more energy consumption as the home will need heating and cooling systems.
  5. The stale and damp smell of the air in the confines of the home is due to the stale air in the attic.

How Do You Replace A Roof Vent?

Some people might want to fix a broken vent to elongate its longevity, but the best way to handle a broken roof vent is to throw it away and buy a new one.

Fixing a broken roof vent does not assure that it will work like before or even last longer, and you might find yourself handling the same problem after a short period.

Here are the things you need when you need to replace a roof vent;

  1. A new pair of roof vents.
  2. A handful of 11/4” roofing nails.
  3. Ladder for climbing.
  4. Caulking gun for sealing.
  5. Hammer for the nails.
  6. Crowbar
  7. Mud knife. 
  8. Knife for cutting through the shingles if need be. 

The following is the step-by-step procedure of fixing a roof vent: 

Step By Step Procedure:

Step One

  • Go up the roof using a ladder and be careful not to lose your footing
  • 5/12 pitched types of roofs are easy to walk and sit on, while steeper roofs with the height of 8/12, 10/12, and 12/12 are tricky and dangerous for a DIY roof vent replacement project, and it will be best if you involve a professional to help you replace the roof vent.

Step Two

  • Remove every roofing nail from the shingles attaching the roof vent onto the shingles by sliding the mud knife below the shingles to let loose any stuck shingle and pulling the nails up using a crowbar until the nails come out.
  • Make sure to keep every nail you pull out safe and not throw it away carelessly as children may pick them up or someone may step on them and get hurt.

Step Three

  • When all the nails have been pulled out, gently slide out the old box vent and place it aside.

Step Four

  • Slide in the new box vent and ensure that it fits well around the area where the old box vent sat.

Step Five

  • Tag the box by nailing it down on both sides of the nail box.

Step Six

  • Find and replace all the nail holes from where you took them out. It is to ensure the wind does not blow up and ruin the shingles.

Step Seven

  • Apply a roofing tar or caulk on top of exposed nails and under old or loose shingles to hold them in place and prevent any water leakage.

Tips For Replacing A Roof Vent

  • Choose a day with cool temperatures to work on your roof venting system as attics and rooftops can get uncomfortably hot on a warm day, so you will not be able to work properly.
  • Replacing a roof vent may take a few hours, but setting out a whole day is best, so you won’t be disappointed.
  • Choose the rectangular-shaped roof vents as they are easy to install.

What Are The Different Types Of Roof Vents?

There are different types of roof vents, but each roof vent depends on either one of the two types of attic ventilation and the location of installation on top of the roof:

  1. Gable intake vents
  2. Static vents
  3. Ridge vents
  4. Solar attic fans
  5. Off ridge vents
  6. Powered vents
  7. Turbine-powered vents.

You can combine two types of roof vents for better efficiency. One can be installed on the roof and the other on the soffit.

Gable Intake Vents

Gable vents, also called louvered vents, are soffit vents installed on the side of the roof and popular with gable types of roof and are mostly installed on both sides of a roof.

You will spot them in rectangular, circular, or square boxes near where the two slanting roofs meet.

Gable vents are natural/passive vents and work like two windows installed directly opposite each other. The blowing wind drives fresh, clean air from one end and hot, stale air out of the attic and through the other gable end.

Static Vents

Static vents are roof vents and serve their purpose by allowing hot air trapped in the attic to escape through them.

A roof needs several static vents installed at different angles to maintain proper attic ventilation.

Ridge Vents

Ridge vents also go by ridge cap vents and are the most common among all other roof vents. 

And just like the name sounds, the ridge cap vent is installed at the ridge of the roof and runs the entire distance, end to end, letting shingles slide beneath it and blend with the rest of the roof to create a continuity that does not allow water to leak through.

Because of its location, the roof’s highest point, a ridge vent is complemented and works well with soffit vents that draw in sufficient air because the minimal supply of air from the outside will cause the ridge vent system to break down.

Solar Attic Fans

Unlike powered vents, solar attic fans are 100% cost-free. The reliability of solar-powered vents is on a 50/50 basis.

The solar attic fan is too powerful, and another time the fan is running low on power. Solar roof vents work well in hotter/warmer regions where the fan can recharge its power.

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Off Ridge Vents

The off ridge vents are installed slightly off the ridge of the roof. It is made of metal and has a length of 3 asphalt shingles, and measures up to 4 feet in length.

Off-ridge vents fall under active vents and are installed like a box vent to sit tight under asphalt roofing sheets.

The attic will be poorly ventilated and not the most popular as its location and size prevent it from expelling sufficient amounts of stale air. But it can still work well where the roof runs short distances and not one complete stretch.

Powered Vents

As the name suggests, powered attic vents are powered by electricity to expel moist air and improve air circulation.

They are efficient in their duty, but its downside is that it crowns normal utility bills with an additional energy bill. And when there is a blackout, it means the attic will be stuffy.

Turbines Vents

Whirlybird is its fun name. The turbine/whirlybird vent is powered by the blowing wind, which spins the turbine vent’s interior blades, making it eco-friendly.

The turbine blades’ speed will spin depending on outside wind strength. On days that the wind is still, the turbine-powered vent will not be able to work well.

The downside of turbine-powered vents is their small size which does not equip the vent with enough capacity to expel sufficient air out of the attic; that is why most roofs with turbine-powered vents are installed with multiple turbine vents efficiency.

How Much Does It Cost To Replace A Roof Vent?

Replacing a roof vent involves labor and materials. As a universal rule, every 150 square feet is entitled to 1 square foot of vent. 

The exact rates are not quantitative and will depend on size, design, and the number of vents you are replacing;

  • Roof vents cost as low as $10 and as high as $500 per piece.
  • Labor could cost between $45 to $150

If you decide to do it yourself, all you will need is to buy supplies, but if you source out the replacement job, a company may charge you 100 dollars to replace your old and damaged roof vent with a new one. The rough estimate then falls between $300 – $550.

When Should You Replace Roof Vents?

Most of the time, the roof air vent system functions well and does not need too much maintenance, but it also needs replacing if it has been in place for more than ten years.

The one most common problem with roof vents that call for replacement is leakage of water which is notable by:

  • Staining on the ceiling or water dripping down the roof vent.
  • Sudden unregulated temperature, e.g., too much heat or too much cold, has to be stabilized using air conditioning.
  • Ice pooling on the roof means that the attic is not properly vented.

Extreme climatic conditions cause the leakage. Too much sun and cold can damage the roof vents leading to leakage and ultimately retarding others.

What Is The Best Way To Vent A Roof?

Ridge Vent3 Lg

When deciding which roof vent to go for, you look into a venting system that cares for the longevity and safety of your roof, the type of roof, and sufficient air circulation in your attic.

The best way to have adequate attic ventilation is to combine a ridge vent and a soffit vent.

A soffit vent installed in the eaves will let fresh air flow in and out through the roof vent installed near the roof’s peak because hot air naturally rises.

Natural attic vents are also the best ridge vents. For example, wind, solar, and electric-powered vents might fail due to insufficient power and extra bills for electric power vents.

A ridge vent combined with a soffit vent will do your house justice.

How To Care And Maintain Roof Vents

Roof vents do not need a lot of maintenance, but once in a while, they may block, and you may need to clean them.

There are three ways to do it;

  1. You need to do is to use a compressed air machine to blast the dirt away 
  2. Using a broom is the easiest way to clean a vent.
  3. The use of water pressure and detergents for cleaning.

Cleaning mostly happens in spring, ensuring your roof air vents are ready to tackle the harsh winter and summer seasons.

Final Thoughts

Replacing a roof vent is one thing; replacing it correctly and adequately is another. When done properly, the venting system will save you many costly problems and may lead back to the money in your pocket.

All homes need a roof air venting system. A homeowner will undoubtedly be grateful for the regulated indoor temperatures, which will cut down the energy use in air conditioning and the hope for a longer roof lifespan.

Lastly, if you think of replacing your roof, you better choose a day with cool temperatures to work on your roof venting system.


Hubert Miles | Licensed Home Inspector, CMI, CPI

Hubert Miles is a licensed home inspector (RBI# 2556) with more than two decades of experience in inspection and construction. Since 2008, he has been serving South Carolina through his company, Patriot Home Inspections LLC. As a Certified Master Inspector, Hubert is dedicated to providing his expertise in home inspections, repairs, maintenance, and DIY projects.