Installing Soffit Vents

This story shows how to install soffit vents.

Intro

Ridge and roof vents are easier to install just prior to a roofing job, but they can also be retrofitted onto an existing roof. Soffit vents can be installed anytime.

Venting goes hand in hand with insulation. Measure the thickness of your attic floor insulation (or wall and ceiling insulation, if the attic is finished) and ask your building department or a home center whether you should add more.

If you need more ventilation but don't want to cut a new hole in the roof or gable, consider adding a power vent, which can be controlled by a thermostat and/or a wall switch.

Checklist

Time
Several hours to install most venting products

Tools
Tape measure, drill, reciprocating saw, jigsaw, chalkline, circular saw, hammer and chisel, trowel

Skills
Basic carpentry and roofing

Prep
Determine how much and what type of ventilation you need. Tear off the roofing or plan to cut back shingles for the installations. Make preparations for working safely on the roof.

Materials
Soffit, roof, ridge, or gable vents; nails and screws; roofing; roofing cement

Step 1

Position soffit vents, whether rectangular or circular, about midway between joists. You can often locate joists by looking for nailheads on the soffit or by using a stud finder.

Step 2

Make a cardboard template for the openings, which should be about 2 inches shorter and narrower than the vents; make sure you will have room for driving the mounting screws. Drill a hole or two inside the lines, insert the blade of a reciprocating saw (shown) or jigsaw, and cut the opening.

Step 3

Inside the attic, make sure air can flow freely through the vents. If you have blown-in insulation, you may need to cut and attach blocking to keep the insulation from blocking the vent.

Step 4

Position the vent over the opening and drive the mounting screws. Use stainless-steel screws, which won't rust.


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