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Roofing Terminology

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Your home's soffits not only help define the exterior elevation of the house; they may also play a vital role in the roof and attic ventilation system. If you suspect a problem with your soffits, a roofing contractor should do an inspection to determine the nature of the damage and make repairs before the issue can escalate into a more serious structural problem.

Soffits and your Roof System

When framing contractors install trusses on your home, there is usually an overhang of about 12 inches past the vertical walls. This overhang provides definition to the appearance of your roof in relation to the rest of the home, moves roof water away from the foundation, and often creates an area to ventilate your attic. The vertical trim board at the end of the trusses is called facia and the horizontal return to the face of the home is called the soffit.

Older homes usually have wood soffits, but many modern homes have aluminum or vinyl soffit panels. This area of the roof leads up into the eaves and directly into the attic space which makes soffits an ideal place to locate vents for attic air circulation.

Soffit vents should be checked on a regular basis for proper operation. Blocked soffits can contribute to:

  • Interior condensation. Stagnant air in the attic can cause condensation on the underside of your roof sheathing, possibly leading to extensive damage.
  • Ice damming. Heat buildup in the attic during winter months can cause roof snow to melt too quickly. This can lead to ice damming and possible water leaks.
  • High cooling bills. Summer heat in the attic can make your HVAC system work harder to cool your home.

A roofing contractor can inspect your soffits for blockage and may be able to install soffit vents if your home doesn't have them.

Roofing Terms