A ridge vent is an opening made of metal or plastic that sits on top of a ridge where two different sections of the roof meet together. They play an important role in keeping your attic free from water damage, as they allow the rising warm air in your home to escape outside instead of building up in your attic. If the air in your attic is warm and your roof is cold, condensation can form on the underside of your roof decking. This can lead to mold growing in your attic or the wood in your attic slowly rotting away, compromising your home's structural integrity.
Unfortunately, ridge vent leaks are quite common. They're open to the air, which means that wind-driven rain will sometimes make its way into the vent during heavy storms. Leaking ridge vents can allow a large amount of water into your attic, leading to water damage issues that the ridge vent was installed to prevent. If you think that your roof's ridge vent may be leaking, read on to learn how you can tell if the leak is coming from the ridge vent and what may be causing it.
How Can You Tell if Your Ridge Vent Is Leaking?
It's usually quite easy to spot a leaky ridge vent. Go into your attic after a heavy storm and shine a flashlight towards the rafters. If your ridge vent is leaking, you'll notice damp roof decking or insulation in a straight line. The line is caused by water entering in through the entire length of the ridge vent.
What Causes a Ridge Vent to Leak?
In most cases, ridge vents leak because they've been damaged during heavy winds. Since ridge vents sit at the very top of your roof, they're exposed to high wind speeds. The wind can catch the ridge vent and partially tear it off of your roof, which opens up a hole in the top of your roof that water can leak through. If you had an extremely strong storm come through your area recently and your ridge vent is now leaking, it's likely that it was damaged by the wind.
Ridge vents can also leak due to improper installation. Using fasteners that are too short makes the ridge vent more likely to detach from your roof in heavy winds, even if the manufacturer's specifications state that it's wind-resistant. Another installation error that can occur is when the roofer doesn't properly cap the ridge vent. A ridge vent is open at its ends, so plastic caps need to be inserted into the ends in order to prevent rain from entering the ridge vent. If this step is skipped when installing ridge vents on homeowners' roofs, it can lead to water damage.
If you've noticed a water stain in your attic that looks like a ridge vent leak, contact a residential roofing contractor in your area and have your ridge vent inspected. If your ridge vent was installed improperly or has been damaged by wind, it will need to be replaced. Thankfully, replacing a ridge vent is extremely quick and easy — they're the last roofing feature that is installed on a roof, so it's easy to remove a ridge vent and install a new one. There's no need to remove shingles or alter any other components of your roof except the ridge vent, which makes replacing a leaking ridge vent an easy and inexpensive job for a residential roofing contractor.
For more information about residential roofing, contact a local contractor.