Ridge vents are a series of gaps located at the ridge of your roof designed to provide a passage for hot air to exit the attic and avoid problems related to humidity and overheating. Because air keeps circulating properly, moisture doesn’t build up, and your attic stays dry unless your ridge vent is making matters worse by springing a leak or two.
One of the most common reasons why a ridge vent leaks, is poor or incorrect installation. Shingles over the ridge vents have to be secured properly to make sure they stay in place and provide enough coverage. If the roof nails used to secure the shingles are too small, then there’s a fair chance that strong wind or other factors can knock the shingle off and expose the ridge vent.
Even with properly secured shingles, leaks are still likely to happen if the ridge vents are not installed properly. In some cases, ridge vents are laid out like strips end-to-end, spanning the entire length of the roof ridge. However, this means there is some space between the ends of each strip where water can seep through. To avoid this, ridge vents must overlap by at least 1.5 inches and be sealed properly with caulking.
Of course, ridge vents are bound to have a few leaks without proper maintenance. While the maintenance requirements are fairly low, ridge vents should be inspected at least twice a year. This helps ensure that the ridge vent is free from possible problems before the start of the more extreme seasons (summer and winter).
Inspecting a ridge vent involves walking along its entire length, pulling the vent slightly upward every few meters. Check for any loose seams or fasteners and have them repaired as soon as possible; even a nail slightly out of place can cause problems later on.
If you feel like you’re not sure of what to look for, there’s always the option of calling in a professional roofer for help. While it costs a lot more than performing the inspection on your own, getting professional help is safer and often yields better results.