By Gene and Katie Hamilton
It's especially important in warm weather months to keep air circulating in the attic as protection against excessive heat and moisture build-up. In winter, too, the warm heated air from the house can accumulate and condense on the sheathing and framing in the attic causing the formation of mold and dry rot. Any time of year, a gable vent is the solution because it circulates air and removes excess hot air and wetness. Baffles on the vents resist water, and screens deter squirrels and other critters from becoming unwanted attic residents. Gable vents come in a variety of colors to match exterior siding and trim and in a wide selection of shapes and sizes, making them nice architectural features as well as practical solution for ventilation.
To install a new gable vent, a carpenter will charge $189, which includes the vent and labor. If you do it yourself, you can buy and install the vent for $60, pocketing a 68 percent saving. You'll need basic carpentry skills to cut into the siding and permanently fasten the unit to the siding. The unit has predrilled flanges for nailing and leveling lines for alignment. A snap-on ring hides the rough edges of the siding and conveniently acts as a template for cutting the hole for the opening.
Before you decide to install it yourself, consider whether it will be easy to get at the part of the attic where you plan to install the vent, as well as how high the ladder work is required on the outside. If access is difficult, this might be a job to hire out to someone who has the equipment and agility while you watch from the sidelines.
No matter who does the work plan the job for the spring or fall when attic temperatures are temperate. Don’t schedule the job in the summer months, when it’s too hot to work in a hot confined area.
The bottom line: compare the price of a contractor’s bid to install a gable vent with what it costs to do it yourself and make your decision. You adjust the cost to where you live by adding your ZIP Code.
Cost updated 2013