Gambrel Roof Ventilation Problems (And How To Overcome Them?)

Gambrel roofs are a great way to have a large space in your attic. You can even turn it into a separate small room in some cases. 

And it just adds elegance to your house that you can’t match with some other choices.

But amidst all of that, you have to face some Gambrel roof ventilation problems. The shape they have can impact the ventilation of the roofs to the point where you may start struggling to have them. 

Don’t know where to start? 

I have got you covered; let’s get through the problems and the solutions you can try.

Ventilation Problems You May Face With Gambrel Roof 

Gambrel roof ventilation

Now, there are several different ventilation problems that you may go through when it comes to the Gambrel roof. These are some fundamental issues that you face with the roof system, and luckily, they are solvable as well. 

First, let’s check out the problems and then take you through the solutions.

Heat and Moisture Buildup

The main purpose of ventilating a roof is to prevent excess heat and moisture from becoming trapped. This warm, damp air can lead to a variety of problems if allowed to stagnate:

  • Accelerated deterioration and rotting of wooden roof components
  • Warping and cracking of materials like shingles or roof deck boards
  • Mold and mildew growth
  • Reduced insulation effectiveness
  • Ice dam formation in winter

Inadequate ventilation allows attics to become saunas in summer and cold sinks in winter. This takes a toll on the durability of all building materials.

Gambrel roof shapes already have a head start on heat and moisture issues due to their increased interior capacity. More air volume means more humidity being created and retained. Add in poor airflow, and conditions can spiral out of control quickly.

Improper Vent Placement

The ideal setup is to have unobstructed ventilation at the lowest and highest points of the attic. This allows for circular airflow, pulling fresh air in through soffit vents and pushing warm air out through ridge vents at the peak.

Unfortunately, the dual-sloped nature of gambrel roofs complicates this strategy. The change in roof angle about two-thirds of the way up essentially creates two separate attic spaces—each with their own hot spots. Ventilating only one section leaves the other prone to ventilation gaps.

Equal venting must occur in both the upper and lower areas. Relying too much on one vent type over the others also causes imbalanced flow. Enough soffit, gable, and ridge vents spaced evenly creates the required passive air movement.

Insulation Interference

Gambrel Roof Ventilation

While vital for energy efficiency, improperly installed insulation can also hinder proper gambrel roof ventilation.

Insulation lined too closely under the roof sheathing blocks fresh air from flowing through soffit vents. Meanwhile, gaps between insulation boards or compressed batts open pathways for conditioned air loss. This imbalance reduces attic ventilation while still allowing heat transmission into living spaces.

Ideally, insulation should be kept several inches away from soffits to permit airflow. Maintenance of installation integrity is also key—settling or sagging materials can create new gaps over time.

Using a baffle or vent chute between roof joists maintains that critical ventilation space. This allows air to reach the upper vents while keeping insulation batts from sagging and closing soffit gaps.

Structural Features Causing Airflow Obstructions

Certain structural elements needed in gambrel roof framing can also interrupt smooth venting airflow:

  • Collar ties: Horizontal planks spanning the upper roof to prevent spreading.
  • Knee wall framing: Vertical partition walls that create upper attic rooms.
  • Ductwork: HVAC machinery housed in attic spaces.

Large collar ties inhibit warm air rising to the peak. They basically create a ceiling that traps hot air against it. Without vents installed above them, heat and moisture buildup can occur.

Similarly, knee walls or ductwork segregate the attic into isolated sections. Air struggles to flow around these blockade features leading to dead air pockets.

Modifications like rotating collar ties on edge or installing venting cutouts in framing helps mitigate some obstructions. Strategic vent placement around ductwork and walls also improves airflow. But in some cases, major structural changes may become necessary.

That’s why I have this solution to try out.

Signs of Poor Ventilation

Many ventilation issues in a gambrel attic go unnoticed at first. Subtle symptoms eventually cascade into major roof problems or indoor air quality issues:

  • Higher cooling/heating bills from weakened insulation
  • Visible mold or mildew growth on wooden roof parts
  • Soft, spongy spots in plywood suggesting early wood decay
  • Cracking or curling shingles signaling premature roof aging
  • Musky attic odor entering living spaces via ceiling leaks

Solutions To Try Out For Gambrel Roof Ventilation

fixing Gambrel roof ventilation issues

There are some straightforward solutions that you can try to solve ventilation problems in your home with the Gambrel roof. These are some solutions that you can implement by yourself, or you can try opting for professional services to do them for you. 

Let’s get through that part now –

  • Installing Soffet Vents 

Soffit vents are amazing solutions to the problem of air intake in your home. You can do this by different kinds of stuff like cutting openings with tools like a saber, or using a saw, then installing some grilles. 

You can also use a hole saw and get your desired opening. You can finish it off with the installation of round grilles.

When using this, make sure you are doing it on a continuous soffit, as it helps wash the complete roof with air. This way, you can easily avoid too much heat buildup and avoid any kind of damage to the roofing material.

  • Trying Eyebrow Vents 

Aside from Soffit vents, you can also try using eyebrow vents for air intake in your home. Eyebrow vents work great when you install them on the overhanging part of your roof on the lower end.

With the eyebrow vents, you will have to think about the number of vents you install. Because it needs to be of the correct number, you won’t get the results you desire to get. 

The number of vents relies mainly on the size of your attic.

  • Placing Ridge Vents 

Now, here is a solution that you have to try out for exhausting the air out through the roof. You can install ridge vents on the upper part of your Gambrel roof. It helps the air is escaping through the roof.

The place ridge vents are one of the best solutions considering they are cost-effective. And at the same time, they are very much efficient as a result you can get a lot out of this system.

  • Installing Ventilation Fans 

Last but not least, you can always install ventilation fans to let out the hot air in your roofing system. No matter what anyone says, this is the best solution available for you in terms of effectiveness. 

You can notice the results immediately in all extremities.

Since they are quite powerful devices, the air quickly goes out of the roof. Now, the only issue you may have with this solution is the fact that it’s a bit noisy and awkward to have around the space.

But when it comes to cooling your space and preventing moisture-related issues, this is the best fix that you should try to implement.

So, these are the solutions that are available for you. They all usually work, but they differ in the impact or effect they have on your ventilation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How do you ventilate a gambrel roof?

Ventilating a gambrel roof requires an evenly balanced system of soffit intake and ridge exhaust vents. The dual sloped planes can create isolated areas, so vent placement on both upper and lower sections helps maintain airflow. Using vent baffles along eaves also keeps insulation from blocking vented soffits.

What are 3 disadvantages of a gambrel roof?

The three biggest disadvantages of a gambrel roof are:
Increased ventilation challenges from the dual sloped attic space.
Complex framing required to create the steep lower slope.
Difficult Access into the cramped upper attic area.

What is the problem with gambrel roofs?

The main problem with gambrel roofs relates to their increased risk of ventilation deficiencies leading to excess heat/moisture buildup. The bifurcated attic space has more dead air zones that require balanced vent placement. Catching issues early via temperature monitoring and leak inspection mitigates serious deterioration.

What happens if a roof isn’t ventilated properly?

If a roof lacks proper ventilation, excess moisture exposure deteriorates shingles prematurely and causes wood rot. Heat also reduces insulation effectiveness leading to added energy costs. Trapped humidity further enables mold/mildew growth creating IAQ issues and possibly structural decay over years.


Summing up the Gambrel roof ventilation problems, I would say you just have to think about the air coming in and air going out. These two can cause problems like moisture damage and condensation, which you will surely want to avoid at all costs.

As you already saw, the solutions are pretty easy to follow up on as well. And once you implement them in your house, you end up with something amazing in terms of roofing for sure.

Ralph Wade

Hey...Ralph is here! So, did you find this article useful? If so, please leave a comment and let me know. If not, please tell me how I can improve this article. Your feedback is always appreciated. Take love :)

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