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What Is a Continuous Soffit Vent?

Asphalt shingles will last much longer if the attic temperature is equal to the outside temperature.
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  • Written By: Dana DeCecco
  • Edited By: Amanda L. Wardle
  • Last Modified Date: 07 October 2014
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A continuous soffit vent is a perforated building material that allows fresh air to enter an attic space. Various building materials can be used to fabricate a continuous soffit vent. A continuous vent runs the full length of the soffit, which the underside of the roof overhang. Attic ventilation is a necessary element in roof construction procedure.

Common materials used in the fabrication of a continuous soffit vent are steel, aluminum, and vinyl. Fiberglass screen and vent panels may also be used for roof ventilation. Steel strips and panels are fabricated to provide air flow through holes and expanded slots. Aluminum and vinyl soffit panels are available with perforated holes and slots, providing a large continuous soffit vent area.

Roof ventilation systems draw cool air in from the soffit vents and expel hot air out through the roof and gable vents. The roof and gable vents can be static or power. Power vents use exhaust fans, electric motors, and thermostats to draw hot air from the attic. Cooler fresh air is then drawn in through soffit vents. Continuous soffit vents provide a more uniform supply of fresh air than occasional spot vents.

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Continuous ridge vents are used in combination with continuous soffit vents to provide a well ventilated attic. Insulation should not block the performance of soffit vents. Instead, insulation should be applied above the ceiling of the living area, but not in front or inside of the roof overhang. A free flow of fresh air is necessary for proper ventilation. Polystyrene ventilation baffles can be used to maintain air flow.

Attic ventilation is important for optimal function of insulation. Moisture control will keep framing members dry and free of mildew. Asphalt shingles will last much longer if the attic temperature is equal to the outside temperature. A continuous soffit vent along with roof or gable mounted vents will accomplish this purpose. Wind and thermal convection will keep the air flowing.

Ventilation is so important that the US has initiated building codes with certain requirements for attic vent construction and function. Installing a continuous soffit vent will meet or exceed these requirements. Air conditioner performance will dramatically improve, lowering energy consumption during warm summer months. Maintaining dry insulation and a moisture-free attic will also improve heating performance.

Continuous soffit vents can be installed in existing structures without ventilation. New products developed specifically for this purpose may aid in the process. Roof and gable vents can also be installed at any time. Many homeowners have experienced a reduction in energy consumption after installing these products. A power roof vent installation can pay for itself in a short time through savings on air conditioning costs.

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