FAQ: What Homeowners Need to Know About Soffits and Fascia

Soffit and fascia repair required for residential home
Soffits and fascia are a part of most homes in the U.S., but many homeowners aren't aware of them or what they do. That's understandable—they aren't the most fascinating parts of your house, and if you noticed them at all, you may have assumed they're just decorative elements that exist to give your roof eaves a finished look.

However, these architectural elements are actually critical features that are very important to help prevent problems such as pest infestations and extensive roof damage, as well as moisture damage issues like wood rot and skyrocketing utility bills. When your soffits and fascia have suffered damage, they can't protect your home.

If you're concerned about the condition of your roofline, you likely have some questions about soffits and fascia boards. Our answers to frequently asked questions will explain what you need to know about these important parts of your roofline, including the signs that your trim boards are in trouble and crying out for help from Mr. Handyman of Central - Eastern Norfolk County and South Shore.

What is the Difference Between Fascia and Soffits?

Your trim boards, also known as soffits and fascia, are parts of your roofline where the roof overhangs the exterior walls, though in slightly different locations with different purposes. Fascia boards run along the edge of your eaves, parallel to the outer walls, where rain gutters are usually attached. Soffit boards are underneath the eaves—they are what you see if you stand against an exterior wall then look straight up—and they are ventilated with holes or slots. Traditionally, they are made of wood or aluminum, but these days more builders and homeowners are choosing UPVC or vinyl soffits and fascia for durability and ease of maintenance.

Are Soffits and Fascia Necessary?

They are definitely necessary. Since heat rises, your attic or crawl space collects warm, humid air and soffit vents provide the air circulation needed to get rid of excess heat and humidity. Without proper ventilation, moisture soaks into the timber of roof rafters, encouraging the growth of wood rot that can cause serious damage to rafters by making them decay. This causes serious structural problems that can affect the entire house. Compromised soffits can also decrease energy efficiency, causing your utility bill to increase by forcing your HVAC system to work harder to compensate for the warm air that can't escape your attic.

Fascia boards seal off the edge of your roof, preventing water infiltration in the interior of the roof. They’re also hated by squirrels, rats, and other pests because they block access to the roof for rodents or insects that spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to get inside your cozy house and bring dozens of their nasty little friends along with them.

How Did My Roofline Get Damaged?

Overflowing gutters. That’s it, that’s the cause.

We’re kidding—sort of. It is probably fair to say that clogged gutters are the number one cause of damage to soffits and fascia boards. That’s one reason why it’s so important to keep your gutters clean. Normally, gutters collect all the rainwater that falls on your roof and channel it safely into downspouts and away from the house where it can’t do any harm. That may not sound very impressive, but just one inch of rain on a 1,000-square-foot roof produces 620 gallons of water.

When your gutters are crammed full of dead leaves, dirt, animal nests, and other debris, all that water has nowhere to go and spills over the edge. Since the gutter is attached to the fascia, the water pours across your trim boards and causes them to degrade rapidly.

Wear and tear over time, wildlife damage, and weather damage are a few other big causes of trouble for your roofline. During storms, wind can blow standing water out of gutters and straight into soffit vents, causing more water damage inside your attic.

When Should I Repair or Replace Soffits and Fascia?

Wondering if your trim boards need professional help, or if they’re good to go for another season? Here are some telltale signs of damage to keep watch for.

Peeling, Flaking Paint

When the finish on your trim boards is peeling off, that’s an early sign of water damage. This is particularly true for wooden boards, because when the timber begins to take in moisture it swells up, pushing the paint or wood stain outward and causing it to peel off. In that case, replacing soffits and fascia will be the best option to get them functioning properly again.

Discoloration on Boards or Siding

Have you noticed black, brown, or rust-colored stains on your roofline or siding? That’s caused by water, likely due to issues with your rain gutters. You may also see green, grey, or whitish marks from algae or lichen growth. If the damage isn’t extensive, the discoloration can be cleaned off—but the source of excess water needs to be repaired or the damage will worsen.

Increased Energy Costs

We mentioned above that compromised soffits can’t provide adequate ventilation, keeping hot air trapped in the attic. That causes your air conditioner to work overtime trying to make up for the rising heat, and you end up paying more than necessary on your utility bill. If you’ve noticed your energy costs are up even though your usage hasn’t changed, a new soffit installation can make your home energy efficient again and save you a lot of money.

Bird, Rodent, or Insect Nests

Are there birds constantly flying to and from your roof, or signs of increased rodent or insect activity around the gutters and fascia? Or, can you see visible bird, rodent, or insect nests around your roofline? If so, they need to be removed immediately before they can cause serious damage and find a way to get inside your house.

How Can I Keep My Roofline in Good Condition?

It makes good sense to include your trim boards on your annual maintenance checklist. If you’re not up to the task of climbing a ladder to repair fascia and soffits, no problem—Mr. Handyman can take care of it quickly and efficiently. Here are a few tips to keep your roofline in good shape year-round.

  • Clean and Repair Gutters: This should come as no surprise! Make sure your gutters are clean and in great condition, with no holes, breaks, or clogs.
  • Spot Cleaning: If you see a bit of mold growth or mildew on your trim, gently clean it off with a soft brush and bleach water solution.
  • Install Drip Edge Boards: A drip edge is an L-shaped piece of metal flashing that attaches to roof deck boards and helps to direct rainwater away from your fascia.
  • Clear Out Vents: Every couple years or so, it’s a good idea to use compressed air to blow out soffit vents and get rid of any dirt or dust that has built up so that the air flow is not obstructed.

Trust Mr. Handyman for Soffit and Fascia Repair and Installation

Whether you’re in Norwood, Duxbury, Marshfield, or a nearby area, you can rely on Mr. Handyman of Central-Eastern Norfolk County and South Shore for quality workmanship and customer service that goes above and beyond.

Give us a call today to find out more about how we can improve your home and make your life easier!