Identifying Problems with Soffits and Fascia

Identifying Problems with Soffits and Fascia

Soffits are an essential cog in your home which contributes both to the physical appearance of your home as well as how your home ventilates the roof.  Neglecting either part of your soffits can result in a diminished home exterior as well as problems in your roof including mold, dampness, and rot. Soffit material is commonly made of wood, metal, or more recently outdoor durable vinyl. Regardless of the material type, the soffits occupy a rather inconspicuous area on your home, underneath the roof eaves, or the horizontal area under your gutters.

Soffit, Fascia, and gutter identifier cheat sheet

Effects of Neglected Soffits

Degradation of soffit material, commonly seen in wooden soffits is caused by water not being properly wicked away from your home causing the water to drip from the roof and collect in the eaves and on the soffit boards. Every homeowner should inspect their soffits, fascia, and gutters every year in the spring or summer months because degradation of the soffit boards can cause greater damage to the roof.

Annual Soffit Inspection

In most cases, a visual inspection will be an adequate indicator to tell you whether or not you may have problems. Inspection of soffits should include identifying areas of peeling paint, water marks, rotten section, holes, water stains, warped boards, and discolored areas.  If any of these symptoms are observed, it is not enough to just paint over the defective area or cutout the impacted section. By covering or removing the defective area without identifying and fixing the cause only assures that the problem will continue to manifest itself in your homes soffits, fascia, and roof.

If defects are observed in your homes soffits, they need to e removed and the remaining area needs to be examined. Examination of the rafter boards, fascia boards, 2 by 4’s, and attic space is critical to understand what has caused the soffit defect. In most cases soffit damage is caused by water infiltrating the soffits along the drip edge or by the lack of ventilation in the attic causing humid air to cultivate mold growth.

Close inspection and soffit removal or replacement requires a close up inspection of both the fascia and under the soffit eaves. If your home is a single story it may be able to inspect them on your own, if it is a two-story it may be best to contact a local professional to eliminate the risks associated with scaling and inspecting your home. Contact your local window and siding contractor to tackle the job if you are not confident with either the inspection or scaling the sides of your home.

Soffit Damage Identification

Rotten, damaged, or otherwise defect boards should be replaced after the cause of the defect is identified and solved.  Because soffits damage is likely due to another roofing deficiency, the first step is to locate the source of the roofing defect and to fix it.  In most cases, a local roofing and siding contractor can identify deficiencies by inspecting the attic and soffits on a rainy day. From the attic, inspectors will check the underside of the roof and identifying where the water is dripping from.  Mark the area causing the soffit and roofing defects so you can collect multiple quotes on fixing the impacted roofing area as well as the defective soffits.

After all of the roofing repairs have been completed, the soffits can then be replaced. Examine all the soffit boards, and framing material on both the exterior of the home as well as from the attic space. Both the soffits, fascia, and roofing material need to be structurally sound and properly ventilated. If all of the soffits are in poor shape from either the exterior of your home or from the roof, it would be a good idea to replace the soffits and fascia boards as well. Make sure that you schedule the replacement to take place while the existing soffits and fascia are dry before attempting repairs or replacement.

Soffit Replacement

Before the soffits can be replaced or repaired, the fascia boards need to be removed. For this reason, many homeowners replace the soffits, fascia, and gutters in the job. To remove the fascia board, the gutters need to be removed.  These are commonly held in place by nails which are secured to the roof underneath the final layer of shingles. Once the gutters are removed, the fascia boards can be removed. Replace the damaged fascia board with a new one, which can easily be cut to the same dimensions as the old and painted with outdoor durable paint. Nail the new fascia board in place.  With the fascia boards replaced and secured, the soffits can now be replaced.

In many instances soffits are made of thing material grooved together and nailed to the roofing outlooks.  Remove all of the damaged soffit material. New soffit material can easily be cut to the same dimensions as the old and painted with outdoor durable paint.  Secure the soffits to the fascia and roofing outlook.

Perform a final soffit inspection after the new installation is complete.