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I need to install new gutters on my home. I live in Chicago in a one story brick bungalow with a ridge roof (home is about 1000 square feet). I had a ridge vent and one additional vent installed at the back of the house when I had a new roof put on about 10 years ago. I had someone come out for an estimate yesterday regarding gutters and downspouts (I haven't received the quote yet). However, he is suggesting that I have ventilation installed around the bottom of the roof to prevent ice dams. I've never had any problems in the past, and I did have an ice/water shield installed when the roof was put on. I don't have an overhang of any type or soffit. My questions is, how involved is this (will layers of shingles need to be lifted?), is it necessary, and is it extremely expensive? I want to keep my home in good shape, but I also don't want to be taken for a ride. The conversation then led to insulation, etc. I don't want this project to snowball into something that's going to cost me $10,000 if it there isn't a dire need. I have no idea what I should expect in regard to cost for any of this. I told him to break out the quote into just gutters and gutters with the vent. Naturally, he said if it was his home he would do it all at once. However, I would appreciate your expertise. Thank you.


If you have the ice and water shield at the perimeters of your roof areas as you say, you should not fear an ice dam.

If you are not having condensation issues in your attic or are experiencing mold or deterioration now or in the past (I am assuming your home is more than 30 years old as you replaced your roof) then I would say that your attic is sufficiently ventilated as is.  It may not be in accordance with the letter of the Building Code, but adequate none the less.

If you put an attic vent under the shingles (and they are out there)then you are compromising your ice dam protection with a long slot in your sheathing.  This tends to compromise the roof diaphragm also.

I would not change a thing, even if it were free.

Just replace your gutters, and you might consider a different contractor.

Best of Luck!

Bruce Ryan II, RRO
Professional Roof Consultants, Inc.  


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Bruce A. Ryan II, RRO


I offer solid knowlege of all types of Commercial and Residential Roofing, Waterproofing, and, Building Envelope systems. Experience ranges across low slope and steep slope roof systems. I am also well versed in matters regarding condensation and ventilation. I enjoy donating some of my time and knowledge to the betterment of others.


Bruce Ryan has 20 years of roofing, waterproofing, and building envelope consulting experience with PRC, with 5 years of commercial roofing experience prior to joining the firm. He became Vice President of the company in 1998. Bruce Ryan plays a key role in the development of practical, long-term roofing and waterproofing solutions, along with implementation of on-site forensic studies. Bruce also has a high level of experience with regard to the impacts of roofing materials and construction for demanding clients with heavily occupied structures.

Oregon Construction Contractors Board Construction Specifiers Institute National Roofing Contractors Association The Institute of Roofing, Waterproofing, & Building Envelope Professionals Oregon Board of Investigators Installation Masters

University of Maryland BS Business & Administration Registered Roof Observer - RCI Private Investigator Certified EIFS inspector - Northwest Wall and Ceiling Bureau Certified InstallationMaster™ - The Installation Masters™ Training and Certification Program (developed by American Architectural Manufacturers Association)

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