If you’re a new homeowner, or even if you’re not, you may not know all the technical terms for the components that make up your roof. And more importantly, if you don’t know what bits and pieces are there, you also won’t know what to look for when something goes wrong. For this reason, we have decided our next Professional Roofers blog series will describe the parts that make up your roof and the common problems associated with each. For our first post, we are going to kick things off with a couple of terms that seem to be known the least amongst homeowners we meet: ‘soffit and fascia’.
So, first things first – what is a soffit? While not all homes have an overhanging roof, most homes in Canada do – particularly those with sloped roofs. If your house has an overhang, the ‘soffit’ on your house is the wood or vinyl material that covers the underside of your roof’s overhang. Essentially, it is the material that protects your roof’s framing (rafters and beams), insulation, and vents from beneath. When looking for the soffit on your home, bear in mind the soffit is ONLY from below. The materials that protect the side of your roof’s overhang are our second term today: fascia.
Soffits and fascia are, as I am sure you can imagine, relatively well protected as far as your roof goes; however, there are some issues that may crop up throughout your home’s lifespan. For this reason, it is important to be vigilant and thorough during your semi-annual roof and home maintenance inspections. This area can be prone to water damage if your roof’s gutters become clogged or your drip edge (the part of your roof that directs water into your gutters) becomes damaged, allowing water to run down the fascia and inevitably across the soffit as well. Gutters must therefore be cleared out regularly, and checked to ensure that they are in good working order for proper soffit and fascia maintenance.
The area beneath your roof can attract insects and small wildlife like bats, squirrels, or raccoons that enjoy the protection that this area offers them. Wildlife will take advantage of any weak spots on your soffit or fascia in order to gain access to your attic space and insulation, so beware of any cracks, holes, or rot – even if it doesn’t seem like animals have used the area yet. It is a good idea to use a screwdriver or other light, unyielding tool to check damp areas to see if they give when probed.
Many soffits, in addition to protecting your roof from the elements and moisture, will also assist in the ventilation of your home. Either they will have vents built in directly to the metal material your soffit is made from, or vent grills are added in between soffit building materials to help promote airflow within your non-habitable attic space. Airflow and ventilation is incredibly important for your home, particularly in the attic space, so it is important to check your vents regularly to ensure they are clean and in good working order.