Soffits can play a key role in a roof’s function. Unfortunately, it’s not common for the average homeowner to be aware of what they are, or if their roof even has them. But understanding what soffits are, how they work, and why they must be well-maintained is essential to keeping your roof healthy for years to come. That’s why we’ve compiled this quick 101 on everything you need to know about roof soffits.
If your roof has overhangs (also known as eaves), then it has soffits. Soffits are the boarding that is affixed to the underside of a roof’s overhanging section. They can come in a variety of materials, including vinyl, wood, fiber cement, and metals like aluminum or steel.
Soffits are the lowest part of the roof, making their location a prime spot for introducing ventilation. This is why installing soffit vents is a standard roofing practice.
The venting may take the form of individual vents placed at key locations, or continuous vents that run throughout the entire soffit length. Much of the time, you can spot these vent systems from the ground below, unless the type of soffit vent has been especially designed to blend in.
Because soffit vents serve as the lowest entry point for air, they facilitate full attic ventilation from top to bottom. The incoming air sweeps the entire underside of the roof, naturally gravitating toward the peak, where exhaust vents allow hot and humid air to escape.
Soffits work in tandem with fascia, the boarding that is attached along the ends of your roof’s trusses and rafters. It is commonly thought of as a part of a home’s trim, since it is usually matched in color. But it actually works as a part of the roof’s ventilation system as well, with strategically-placed venting that usually sits perpendicular to the soffit vents. This creates a bigger influx of fresh air from below, maximizing the amount of circulation in the attic.
The ventilation provided is critical for preventing condensation and moisture accumulation. Without properly-working soffits and their vents, your attic is at risk of developing mold or rot. This can result in a health hazard, the need to replace parts of your roof, or even damage to items stored in your attic.
Soffit ventilation is also critical for keeping your home energy-efficient. Without the soffit intake vents creating an inward push of cool air, warm air builds up in the attic and has a hard time escaping. This can keep your home much warmer than desirable in the summer months, which can lead to a rise in energy bills due to excessive A/C usage.
Roof soffits don’t usually need much upkeep, but it is possible for them to become damaged and dysfunctional. Obvious signs of expired soffits include sagging sections, cracks, or discolorations. On painted soffits, the paint may start to peel.
If you can’t spot the damage to your soffits from the ground, other signs that your soffits need replacing are the presence of rotted wood in and around your roof, or an increase of pests invading your home.
Given how important soffits are for protecting the structure of your roof, it’s critical that replacements are performed by professionals. An expert roofing contractor can diagnose the extent of the damage done to your soffits, and evaluate whether or not other parts of your roof have been compromised as well.
Our residential roofing team knows what it takes to perform flawless soffit installations that keep your roof safe and hold up for many years. To schedule a free inspection and a cost estimate, call us today at (941) 727-3996.
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