Attic Venting And Air Compressors

The Handyguys take a listener question about attic venting then talk about air compressors and air tools

First up – A question from Natalie

I live in an 1957 government built home that has a lot of open areas at the bottom of the roof, but none on the top. There is an open space at the bottom of each board that forms the roofline, but no openings anywhere else. I would like to know if I should add two vent openings at the top of the peak, one at each end of the roof? And do you have any recommendations as to what kind?

Thanks, and love your show!

Natalie – This is a very timely question. For the benefit of our subscribers our response went as follows:

Ice DamNatalie – Thanks for contacting The Handyguys! Attic venting is a key factor in extending the lifespan of your roof, keeping summer cooling bills lower and preventing ice dams in winter. The best time to address venting is when you install a new roof. From your description it sounds like you have only soffit vents. Ideally you should have soffit vents in conjunction with a ridge vent or gable vents. First off, make sure you do not have insulation blocking the soffit vents.

Where you go next will depend on the age of the roof. If you will need a roof in the next couple of years I would wait and install a ridge vent at the same time you install a new roof. If the roof is in good shape and you want to upgrade your venting then you have two options.

Option 1 – Install a ridge vent. This will involve cutting a slot in the peak (ridge) of your roof. A special vent is then installed over the slot to keep out water and allow rising air to escape. Some types of ridge vents are shingled over, some are purely aluminum. I like the looks of the ones that you shingle over. The aluminum only ones are easier to install. One type that you shingle over is a thick mesh that just rolls out over the cut opening in the ridge and then cap shingles are installed over that.

You would need a ridge vent, in a sufficient length, plus new cap shingles. If you want details on installing that please let us know.

Gable VentOption 2 – Install gable vents. These go in each gable end wall. They install much like a window. You would need to cut a hole for the size of vent you choose. These vents come in aluminum, vinyl, wood and composites. Many sizes, shapes, styles and colors are available.

Finally, please keep in mind, if you have a low slope, not steep, roof you cannot safely install a ridge vent and not expect leaks. Your only choice for a low slope roof is a gable vent.

Feel free to let us know if you have additional questions and feel free to send along some pictures.

And Natalie’s follow-up:

IciclesYou guys are awesome!

I will take some pics and send. I need to repair the roof now, and am looking at putting on metal roof maybe next year, at which time I will put in ridge vent, but for now gable vents are what I need I think for the winter. The attic gets HOT even in the winter and I have a bad problem with icicles.. until I get the new roof, at which point I will get the ridge vent.. would I then have TOO much venting with the ridge and the gable vents?

I live in Los Alamos, New Mexico at 7400′ elevation, in a house built by the government for the folks at Los Alamos National Lab in 1957. Last year we put in 20 additional rolls of unfaced insulation in the attic, and we made sure not to block the openings at the end of the roof – the soffit vents. There sure are a lot of them.

I believe the house is not really sided, per se… more like what is covering up the studs is wood panels with decorative boards, I am not sure of what it is called. I will make sure to get it in the pics.

I have a pretty good pitch for the roof, but be sure not to laugh at my solar panels – from the 70’s, which only blow hot air and still work to heat the house when it is sunny!

Thanks again,


You can hear The Handyguys discussing attic venting in the podcast.

Next up – The Handyguys Discuss compressors and air tools

Campbell Hausfield Label

Impact Wrench

There are many choices of compressors as well as air tools. A key consideration in choosing a compressor is will it have enough air to handle the particular tool. The new Campbell Hausfeld Impact Wrench and Air Ratchet have made determining if you have enough air power easy. They have an easy to read guide right on the package. If the size of your compressor is in the red zone you cannot use the tool, if its in the yellow zone you can use it intermittently, if its in the green zone you are good to go.

RatchetSpeaking of Campbell Hausfeld Impact Wrench and Air Ratchets – Campbell Hausfeld has come up with some unique packaging. Their new package will not only hold the tool but will hold some accessories as well. If you are looking for an impact wrench or ratchet, make sure you check out Campbell Hausfeld.

The Handyguys also talk about what is new in compressors. The Handyguys really like their portable compressors. Paul uses a Makita MAC700. We talked about that compressor in Episode 5. The nice thing about the MAC700 is its light weight and very quiet. The downside is it will not be capable of driving the ratchet or impact wrench.

Maxus CompressorIf you want additional air capacity yet not sacrifice the weight, you may want to consider the new aluminum tank compressors from Maxus. Additionally, aluminum tanks do not rust. When air is compressed, any moisture in the air will accumulate in the air tank. If you do not drain your tank, it will eventually rust. Aluminum tanks do not have this downside. You still want to drain your tank to keep excess moisture out of your tools though. But again, make sure your compressor has enough capacity for the tool at hand. Many small portable contractor compressors will not have enough volume to support an impact wrench or ratchet. Campbell Hausfeld has a buyers guide for compressors.

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