What is soffit on a house?

soffit under a roof

What is the purpose of soffit?  

When a house is built, after the roof is constructed, the soffit is installed, underneath the overhang, and in between the roof edge and side walls of the house. The soffit and fascia work together to protect the roof and allow the roof to ventilate.  The fascia is the board that runs along the side of the overhang, protecting the ends of the rafters from the elements. Both the fascia and soffit are important to the protection of the roof. What is the difference between eaves vs soffits?  Soffit is located under the eaves. The eaves are the overhang from the roof. 

The soffit serves multiple purposes for a house: 

  • Protection: The basic purpose protecting the roof rafters from moisture and other weather elements. If the hose didn’t have soffit, the rafters would get wet and mold, then the mold would spread to the attic and roofing. 
  • Aesthetics: The soffit also provides an aesthetic finish to a house, adding character with a variety of colors and designs. The soffit adds interest to a home’s outward appearance.
  • Ventilation: Another important purpose of a soffit will depend on the roof design. That possible third purpose of soffit is to provide the attic  natural ventilation. A soffit doesn’t have to be present for ventilation, there are ways for an attic to have ventilation, such as vents. 

However, a house with roof overhang is a perfect opportunity or natural ventilation be added for the attic. For this ventilation to work properly, there is a matter of balance between the eave intake and the roof vent exhaust along the roof’s peak. 

  • Pest Control: The soffit keeps pests out of the attic, a favorite nesting and breeding area for critters and pests. When critters and pests have access to an attic, they will damage the roof, chew through electrical wires, and bring bacteria, disease, and germs to your home. 

Does a house need soffits?

Houses haven’t had always had soffits. There were gable vents or hood vents installed for air to reach the attic. The trouble with that method was the air did circulate. This allowed mold to form in the attic insulation. 

The soffit is passive ventilation that keeps warm moisture out of the attic that creates mold. The soffit outlines the roofline, allowing nonstop ventilation by cycling the air through the vents, pulling heat and moisture out. 

Do all houses have soffit vents?

No, not all houses have soffit with vents. Should they? In the opinion of experienced builders and contractors, if there is a roof overhangs and the height of the roof allows rom for soffit venting, soffit ventilation should be added. However, older homes typically do not have soffit vents. 

Years and years ago, attic ventilation importance wasn’t known to home builders. Thus, earlier built houses have inadequate attic venting. That lack of venting is what causes roof shingles to age faster and become warped.  Lack of attic ventilation also is one of biggest causes of high energy bills. 

Do soffits lead to attic?

Yes, this is where fresh air comes into an attic, circulating to the peak of the roof.  Many homeowners will outgrow their house and determine the attic makes perfect sense for an additional room or two. With that planned, the need to cool and heat the  attic becomes necessary, so the need for rafter venting comes into the picture. 

The rafter vents are installed in the rafter space, creating narrow gaps where fresh air enters from the soffit vents, going to the roof peak.  By installing these specialty vents, the finished aesthetics of the house’s exterior isn’t affected.  Yet, fresh air is still able to enter and flows through the attic space, keeping the roof sheathing dry and mold-free. 

newly built roof with soffit

How do you repair soffits in a house?

The roof on your home will age and undergo wear and tear, and more often, it is the soffit that shows that damage first. From erratic weather to pesky critters, the soffit gets damaged and mold begins to grow, rotting the soffit. That mold and rot will spread to the attic, roof, and your home if not addressed.  Fortunately, there is no need to get on the roof to fix your soffit, simply follow these steps while on a ladder: 

  1. Pry any shingle mold off  a pry bar.
  2. Using the pry bar, remove the fascia carefully so you can reuse it if it hasn’t been damaged. 
  3. With your gloved hand, remove the rotting soffit.  
  4. If there is any rotted rafters, remove those with a reciprocating saw.
  5. Replace the rotted rafters with new rafters by clamping new wood to a one-inch backboard and fasten with screws.
  6. Coat both sides of the new soffit board with a waxy sealant, including all the edges for water protection. 
  7. Fasten the soffit to the roof eaves underside with screws and apply liberal amounts of caulking where water could seep through. Allow the caulk to dry and with galvanized nails, attach the new fascia. 
  8. Install the shingle mold along the new fascia’s top. 

There are several components to a roof, and where the fascia and soffit may appear to be a decorative touch to your home’s exterior aesthetics, they serve an important purpose. By not repairing or replacing one small area of soffit, you’re setting the entire roof up for rot and destruction.  This includes soffit cleaning every two to three years by blasting compressed air to remove dirt, dust, and loose insulation that has fallen. Need soffit installation or repair? Call (405) 470-9115 today!