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Roof Soffit Maintenance Guide

by Harvie Simms

Your roof is more than the shingles that make up the top. The edges of the structure also need proper care so that your roof performs as it's supposed to. The underside of the roof's edge is called the soffit. Soffits are sometimes made of metal or vinyl, but sometimes they are made from wood boards or panels. The soffits also usually contain the roof vents, which allow hot hair and moisture to escape from inside the roof. Properly caring for wooden soffits can prevent problems with the rest of your roof, as this guide will show.

Start With an Inspection

A quick visual inspection will reveal several things about your soffits. First and most importantly, check to see what type you have. Wood soffits are usually solid pieces with small vents installed at intervals along the roof line. Metal and vinyl soffits may have the same set up, or the entire soffit may have small holes built in to provide venting. Tapping on the soffit should reveal whether it is vinyl, wood, or metal, since it can be difficult to tell visually.

Once you know what type of soffit you have, look for trouble signs. These may include:

  • Peeling paint. This is mainly a problem on wood or metal soffits, since missing paint can lead to rot or rust.

  • Damaged panels. Look for wood damage, rust, bends and creases, or broken or cracked vinyl.

  • Vent problems. Vents sometimes become clogged. Birds and small animals will sometimes nest inside as well, if the vents are large and contain no screens.

Fix the Panels

If the soffit itself is damaged, a quick fix is in order. If the damage is as simple as peeling paint, the fix is quick. Simply sand down the soffit to roughen it up slightly, then paint two coats of fresh paint over the damage. You may need to scrub a rusted metal soffit with a wire brush first to remove the rust, and then coat it with a rust-inhibiting product before painting.

Rotten or broken soffits require replacement. If you have panels, simply remove the damaged panel. Check that there is no water damage inside the roof behind the soffit, and then replace the panel with a new one. If you find water damage inside the roof, you may need to contact a local roofer to remove and replace the damaged plywood and roof supports. For board-style soffits, either replace the entire board length, or cut out the damaged section and only replace this.

Vent troubles are also a simple fix. You may need to remove the vent cover to clear any debris that has collected behind it. Then, install a sheet of 1/4-inch metal mesh inside the vent before replacing it. The mesh acts as a barrier that keeps animals and debris out, while still allowing moisture and air to escape. To find out more, speak with a business like Peacock Roofing.