Can You Combine Gable Vents With Ridge Vents?

Lawrence Bonk
Written by Lawrence Bonk
Updated October 28, 2021
A gable vent on a brick house
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There’s nothing like a fresh, airy home, and proper roof ventilation is key to achieving that. Some homeowners may not realize the importance of their roof and attic exhaust vents. It turns out, these systems are the MVP when it comes to regulating temperature, airflow, and moisture levels. So yeah, they’re kind of a big deal. There are as many types of ventilation as there are roofs, with some older homes featuring a hodgepodge of different exhaust vent types. Here’s the scoop on mixing and matching these vents.

Gable Vents Explained

If you have a gable roof, you also likely have gable vents. How to spot a gable roof? Look for a roof with one long ridge spanning its entirety. A qualified roofer places gable vents on the sidewalls beneath the eaves at both ends of the roof. Gable vents, otherwise known as louvered vents, passively ventilate the attic space and roof. With vents on each side of the roof, fresh air enters through one vent, and stale air squeezes through the other. Think of gable vents as two open windows on opposite sides of the room.

Ridge Vents Explained

As the name indicates, ridge vents run the length of your roof’s ridge, right along the peak. They offer a sleek, subtle look as they disguise themselves as matching shingles. Just like gable vents, ridge vents provide passive ventilation. Warm air rises naturally and leaves your attic via the ridge vent. However, the design offers fantastic efficiency, as this type of exhaust vent covers a whole lot of square footage.

Do Gable Vents and Ridge Vents Work Well Together?

The simple answer is: Not really. If your home features both ridge vents and gable vents operating simultaneously, you should think about sealing up the gable vents. Different types of exhaust vents actually prevent each other from working effectively. Ridge vents are especially good at their job when left alone. Gable vents can interrupt the “heat rising” effect encouraged by ridge vents, creating a cross breeze or circulating air back down throughout your home.

The end result? A less comfortable home and a higher energy bill. Some homeowners report that this vent combination actually pulls in snow to your attic during the winter months. Let’s keep the winter wonderland outside, shall we?

Of course, any negative impact depends on the size of your gable vents. If they’re small and don’t let much air in, the chance of a conflict with the ridge vents is minimal.

How to Tell if Gable and Ridge Vents are Negatively Impacting Ventilation

There are two simple ways to get to the bottom of any ventilation issues caused by combining exhaust types.

Energy Audit

A ridge vent opening at the peak of a house’s roof
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Hire a pro to perform a home energy audit or ask your power company to do one for free. These technicians will expertly analyze the efficiency of your ventilation system and let you know if your ridge vents and gable vents are friends or mortal enemies. They’ll also check in on your soffit vents to ensure they are cooperating with the rest of your exhaust system. You’ll get a report that details the efficiency of your system and lets you know of any vent conflicts. You'll also find out whether you should invest in more ventilation, such as attic fans or roof turbines.

Test it Yourself

You can roll up your sleeves and perform a simple DIY test to check on any ventilation sluggishness caused by gable vents fighting with ridge vents. Take a temperature reading in the middle of your attic and then close the gable vents with cardboard or plastic. Leave the closed vents undisturbed for a few days and then perform another temperature check in the same location. If the temp is more comfortable than before, keep the vents sealed. If it’s less comfortable, open them back up.

How to Seal Up Gable Vents for Good

If you decide to close your gable vents for the long haul, you should start by sealing up the attic-side vents with plastic or cardboard. Consider hiring a pro for the exterior-facing vents—unless, that is, you’re super comfortable with heights. You can cut wooden boards to fit over the outside vents; this will help protect against extreme weather conditions (and don't worry, there's no need to make an airtight seal). Once lined up, hammer down a nail or two and take a deep breath of freshly ventilated air.

Please take any and all safety precautions while sealing up gable vents, including having a second person around to hold your ladder and your tools.

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