Handyman on Call

Roof ridge vs. side vents

Q. What are the pros and cons of a roof ridge vs. side vents on a home? I have a condo which has side vents at the top of the condo’s two side peaks and there are small vents under the outside roof underhang. The roof has just been shingled and a ridge vent put along the peak of the roof, but there has been a lot of disagreement as to whether to block the two side vents or not.

JANE RALPH from cold N.H.

A. The disagreements on whether to close the side (gable) vents when a ridge and soffit vents are installed are mainly among amateurs. Pros always suggest closing the gable vents when ridge and soffit (under the roof overhang) vents are used because they interfere with normal ventilation of the ridge and soffit vents.


For you, just wait a while and check the attic for moisture or mold growing. If none, the attic is sufficiently vented. If you detect any moisture or mold, then it is a must to enlarge the soffit vents that you described as “small.” The best soffit vent is a 2-inch-wide continuous screened strip.

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Q. I am considering replacement windows for my home. I have 16 double-hung windows with thermal glass and all have storms in good condition (20 years old). I see most new houses or replacements seldom have storms. Are the new windows that good and worth the expense?


A. If what you call thermal glass are really double glazed (two layers of glass), you are home free, and with the storms, you have triple glazing, as good as you can get. If the thermal windows are not double glazed, you still have the storms that make those windows double glazed.

Many installers of replacement windows say you can take off the storms because the replacements are enough. Baloney! They are not good enough to get rid of the storms. Keep them because they add to the insulative value of any window system. Sometimes storms cannot be taken out for washing, but they can be washed in situ. I have 12 replacement windows installed by a Harvey dealer, and he agreed that leaving the storms on was a good idea. So, never, ever, toss your good storms. They protect the replacement windows, too.

Fusible damper


When Mike Tagliaferro asked if it was OK to cut a hole in the ceiling to allow heated air in one room to heat the room above, the Handyman wasn’t sure, so he asked the caller to check with his town’s building department.

Dave Guilmet of Newbury called to tell us of a fusible, fire-rated damper that can be installed. Made by W.W. Grainger, it is sold in hardware and big box stores, and must be installed the right way, and will shut itself down in case of trouble such as fire or other hazards.

Globe Handyman on Call Peter Hotton also appears in the Sunday Real Estate section. He is available 1-6 p.m. Tuesdays to answer questions on house repair. Call 617-929-2930. Hotton ( also chats online about house matters 2-3 p.m. Thursdays. Go to