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and maintenance of gutters and siding in the Vancouver Lower Mainland.

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Taking Care of Your Soffit and Fascia

Soffit and fascia are constantly exposed to the elements year after year. While gutters play a major role in keeping water from gathering behind the fascia and seeping into soffit panels, simple maintenance can help prolong the lifespan of the exterior finishing elements that make up the roofline.

Inspect Soffit and Fascia

Prevention goes a long way to avoiding expensive repairs or replacement of soffit and fascia. Soffit panels cover the underside of a roof’s overhang; fascia boards seal off the ends of the roof rafters from the elements. Periodically inspect soffit and fascia for potential problems such as:

  • soft spots or rotting – applicable to wood soffit and fascia only
  • warping – applicable to wood soffit and fascia only
  • holes
  • peeling or bubbled paint
  • stained surfaces
  • cracking and splitting – applicable to vinyl and wood soffits and fascia
  • panels or boards separating from the house
  • missing fascia and/or soffit panels

The most common reason for water damage to soffit and fascia is overflowing gutters. Check to see if there are clogs in the gutter channel or blockages around the gutter outlet.

Clean Soffit and Fascia

Soffits are fabricated from three main types of material: wood, vinyl, and metal. While their key purpose is aesthetic, soffits also make the roofline stronger. Due to constant exposure to the elements, soffit boards can become grimy and collect bits of debris in corners, around vents, etc. Whatever they are made of, most surface dirt should be easily removed by washing with a solution of mild detergent. When stronger cleaning methods are needed, ensure that you use a cleaner that won’t damage the material the soffits are made from.

Fascia boards are also made from wood, vinyl, and metal, most commonly aluminum. Washing fascia at least once a year maintains their appearance. Removing streaks and grime reduces potential damage that environmental pollutants might harm the finish of the fascia boards, minimizing how well they protect your home.

Repair Soffit and Fascia

Small holes or cracks in wood soffit and fascia can be repaired, and warped sections of fascia or soffit panels can be removed then replaced. Even when repairs can be made to soffits and fascia made of wood, many roofing contractors advise replacement with comparable aluminum or vinyl products that require less maintenance and care.

In most cases, metal or aluminum soffit and fascia can be repaired or repainted. However, vinyl soffits and fascia typically have to be replaced when damaged.

What is Gutter Flashing?

Flashings are thin pieces of water-resistant material used to protect a structure from water infiltration. Flashing is typically installed where two surfaces are joined together like around a chimney, skylight, window, door or vent. Gutter flashing prevents water from getting in behind the gutters, increasing functionality and providing additional protection to your home’s exterior.

Gutter Flashings

Gutter flashings serve three main purposes. The first function is to direct water directly into the gutters, preventing it from damaging the fascia and soffit. If water is not drained properly from the roof, it causes water damage and invites mold/mildew/algae growth.

The second purpose of a gutter apron or drip edge is to support the weight of the shingles. It helps prevent the shingles that hang an inch to two inches past the edge of the roof from curling, shifting or cracking.

The third function of gutter flashing is to cover the space between where the gutter meets roofline. It can prevent animals from prying up shingles and damaging the roof, soffit, and fascia and/or entering your home.

Today, many roofers automatically add gutter flashing when they’re installing the roofing system. However, older homes, constructed in the past twenty years or more did not have gutter flashings unless specifically required. A house typically needs flashings when the roofline does not extend far enough past the edge of the gutter. Gutter flashing is also used on roofs with a low slope, where water could flow back in behind the gutters.

Types of Gutter Flashing

The two main types of gutter flashings are a gutter apron and a drip edge. Gutter aprons typically go over the roof deck, under the shingles, and then over the back edge of the gutters.

A drip edge attaches over the roof deck, under the first row of shingles, and directly onto the fascia or rake boards, behind the back of the gutter. Drip edges are generally used where you have no gutters, the roof has a unique configuration, or the roof is shallow or low-pitched. They are designed to allow water to drip clear of the fascia, roof deck and/or rake boards.

Flashing Specifics

Gutter aprons and drip edges are typically made of metal and plastic.

Flashings used for gutter aprons are bent at an angle, usually at a 35-degree angle. It can vary depending on the manufacturer and fabrication technique.

Gutter flashings can be custom fabricated to meet specific job requirements.

How Neglected Gutters Harm Your Home

While it’s summer, the last thing you probably want to do is think about preparing your home’s exterior for fall, including cleaning the gutters. If they are still attached to your house, a little bit of dirt is obviously not bothering them. The reality is by the time they have fallen off the damage is most likely serious, affecting not just the gutters but other parts of your home as well.

Fascia and Soffit

The main reason for standing water inside a gutter is debris build-up. When inclement weather adds rain to a gutter system already filled with water, gutters can overflow. If water spills over the inner edge (side of the gutter closest to the house) and seeps into the fascia boards, damp fascia can slowly become rotting fascia. Overflowing gutters may also seep into soffit with a similar result.

Neglected gutters are heavy. Water combined with debris weighs down the gutters until they pull away from the fascia boards and/or put additional stress on soffit panels.

Algae, Moss, Mold, Mildew

Gutters not properly maintained are vulnerable to the formation of algae, moss, mold or mildew. When it can be seen on the gutter face, soffit or fascia, plant growth such as moss can be removed. When gutters overflow and rainwater seeps in behind the gutters or into soffit panels and fascia boards, algae, moss, mold or mildew are more difficult to deal with.

Mold, mildew, and moss can pose mild to serious health issues. Moss is very absorbent; once it takes hold inside the gutter channel, it retains water, adding extra weight to the gutter section. Most types of algae are not harmful to a person’s health like moss, mold, and mildew are. However, algae can stain and even ruin the protective finish of your gutters.

Effects of Standing Water

Neglected gutters filled with twigs, leaves, and dirt encourage standing water. The same goes for clogged downspouts; debris trapped inside downpipes stops rainwater from exiting the gutter system.

Pooled water beneath a downspout can cause flooding in a basement. Standing water inside the gutters creates an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes and other kinds of nagging insects. It can also cause rusting, pitting and leaks in aluminum gutters.

What to Expect from a Roof Inspection

Even if you keep an eye on the roof to see what it’s up to with every seasonal change, there might come a time when your roofing system needs the attention of a professional roofing contractor. For instance, a certified roof inspection might be required before selling your home. The following is a brief guide outlining what you can expect after calling a contractor for a roof inspection.

There’s No Charge

Many roofing companies provide a free estimate. The company will typically schedule an appointment. On the agreed-upon day, the contractor will come to inspect the roof, resulting in an estimate listing what needs fixing. The attic is often a part of the roof inspections – they will check for moisture and insulation issues. The estimate should also include cost breakdowns for materials and labour.

Should be on the Roof

It’s recommended for a homeowner to conduct regular roof inspections with binoculars. But for a thorough roofing inspection, the contractor should be on the roof. He or she will examine how all parts of the roof are working together; age and current condition of the roof; and whether the roof will need replacing now or in a few years’ time.

What a Roof Inspector Looks For

The main purpose of a roof inspection is to assure its structural integrity and to identify potential problems and current issues that will become worse if not addressed. A roofing contractor will check for:

  • improper installation of roof components
  • condition of existing shingles
  • condition of flashings around structures on the roof like vents, skylights and chimneys
  • whether or not fascia flashing/drip edge flashing needs to be added
  • appearance of mold/mildew or other signs of trapped moisture under roofing tiles

Don’t forget that the gutters are part of the roof too. Water coming off the roof needs to be properly channeled away from the house. Keeping gutters free of debris ensures that rainwater freely flows through the gutters and into the downspouts. A roof inspector will alert you to any potential gutter systems problems that require attention.

Summer Roof Tips

Out-of-sight-out-of-mind is a dangerous game to play with your roof. Exposed to the elements 24/7 year-round, it can take a beating. Summer is an ideal time to get your roof in shape.

Cleaning Off the Roof

Keep the roof free of debris. Just like the gutters, a roof can be a great collector of leaves, pine needles, twigs, balls and other miscellaneous unexpected items. When using a broom or a rake, don’t press down.

Helpful hint: Don’t use a pressure washer – it can dislodge the granules from roofing tiles, force water in behind fascia boards and soffit panels, and do further damage to worn shingles.

Inspecting the Roof

Since a roof’s temperature is often higher than ground and air temperatures, this can make an asphalt roof more susceptible to damage when walked upon. Plan to conduct your roof inspection early in the morning or use binoculars first.

Look for:

  • debris build-up in valleys and around flashings
  • loose roofing shingles
  • loose flashings
  • damaged shingles
  • damaged shingles around roof protrusions such as dormer windows, skylights, etc.
  • stained shingles, soft spots, and wet patches that don’t dry up 36 hours after a rainfall
  • worn, damaged and/or water stained soffit and fascia

Helpful hint: After inspecting the roof, if you do need to make any repairs, plan on getting them done while the weather is still cooperating. Roofers and gutter contractors tend to be less busy during the summer months.

What are the Gutters Up To?

Inspect the gutters for any damage like dents, worn hardware, or leaking seams. Also look for leftover nests, evidence of insect infestation, and other signs of life (plant or animal) in the gutter system, including the downspouts. If you discover any residue, dead blossoms, and twig bits in the gutter channels, rinse out gently with a garden hose.

Helpful hint: Trim back any trees growing close to the house. This will help reduce the amount of debris deposited into the gutters or onto the roof.

Adding New Elements

Hire a contractor if you are thinking about adding a skylight, some dormer windows or decorative-detailed fascia. Depending on the project, cutting into the layers of a roof or piercing its surface with nails can prove challenging to even an experienced do-it-yourselfer.

Helpful hint: Get three estimates from roofing contractors – it will help you decide on who will be the best fit for your project.

Damaged Gutters and What You can do about Them

Gutters are designed to withstand the elements, protect your home and be strong and durable. But as they age, they become vulnerable. Fortunately, the signs are easy to identify. If your gutter system is damaged, here is what you can do to prevent the situation from becoming worse.

Signs of Damaged Gutters

Damage to gutters occurs in a variety of ways. It can be as simple as leaning a ladder against aluminum gutters or as complicated as a tree crashing onto the roof during a storm. Common signs of damaged gutters are:

  • sagging
  • warping
  • dents
  • rusting
  • separation of seams
  • fading gutter colour
  • water stains

When Gutters are Damaged

If the gutter system hasn’t been cleaned in a while leaves, twigs and other bits of debris build up inside the gutter channel. As the gutters become weighed down they can sag and warp. If the gutter sections are held in place by brackets, these might pull away from the fascia, allowing the gutters to sag even more.

Dents “cave” inward, reducing the amount of water flowing through that section of the system. The more pronounced the dent the more likely debris will snag creating clogs.

Fading gutter colour isn’t just about appearance. The colour of metal gutters, including aluminum gutters, is baked on. Fading indicates the finish has been compromised or weakened, allowing further damage to occur.

Rusting and the separation of seams are typical signs of a deteriorating gutter system.

Water stains on siding, soffit, and fascia might indicate overflowing gutters. If left unchecked, overflowing can cause soffit and/or fascia to rot. It can also be responsible for the appearance of mold or mildew on your home’s exterior.

Taking Action

When deciding on what course of action to take, first assess how severe the damage is. A small dent or a handful of pinholes due to rust can be repaired. On the other hand, if you’ve had to reseal leaking or separated seams five times in one season, it’s probably time to replace the gutter system. Any damage such as sagging, dents, or the separation of seams that obstructs the gutters’ ability to efficiently move water to the downspouts should be fixed as soon as possible.

Sagging, warping and water stains can be fixed by:

  • thoroughly cleaning the gutter system
  • reattaching or replacing loose nails or fasteners
  • checking the gutter slope and readjusting if required

Sections affected by dents and fading gutter colour can be replaced. Where there are too many dents or the colour has faded in three or more areas, consider replacing all of the gutters

Improve the Appearance of Your Roofline with Fascia

When a home’s exterior finishing elements are carefully selected with an overall design in mind, the result is cohesive and eye-catching. Fascia, an exterior finishing element, plays an important role in a roofing system, keeping weather out and heat in. If you’re upgrading your home’s exterior, take the opportunity to improve the appearance of your roofline with new fascia.

What is Fascia?

Fascia boards cover the ends of the roof rafters that would otherwise be exposed to the elements. Whether it’s intentional or not, the roofline of a house makes a difference to your curb appeal. The two types of roofing fascia most commonly used in residential applications are eave fascia and gable fascia.

Eave fascia covers the exposed ends of the rafters of the roof and the top of exterior walls immediately below the roofline. This type of fascia board is typically flat and/or without decorative detail to form a smooth backing for gutters.

Gable fascia is attached to edges formed by the triangular upper part of a wall closing the end of a ridged roof. Decorated or detailed gable fascia is used to enhance a home’s exterior.

Fascia Materials

While fascia is still made of wood and composite wood products, popular materials for fascia boards or fascia panels are aluminum and vinyl. This is largely due to the fact that aluminum and vinyl fascia can be manufactured to mimic wood grain, without the hassles of wood, such rotting, splitting or mold.

While metal fascias are mostly seen on commercial and public buildings, metals like copper, zinc and galvanized steel fascia are used for residential exteriors to define the roofline or emphasize a certain architectural feature or style.

Because fascia is particularly vulnerable to the effects of wind and water, strength and appearance are important. For example, expect to replace wood fascia every five to seven years, depending on where you live.

Maximum Impact

Homeowners who want to create a particular look for their home exterior using the roofline as a focal point choose elements with maximum impact. These include:

  • bold (bright) or dramatic (dark) colours for fascia panels
  • pairing fascia with soffits in a contrasting or complementary colour
  • incorporating complementary fascia, soffit and trim materials to add levels of texture
  • stylistically connecting eave fascia, gable fascia, entry door and window trim

Checking the Roof in Winter

With all of the different types of climatic conditions the Lower Mainland has been experiencing recently, you might be wondering how your roof is weathering the storms. Even if there are no obvious indicators of a leaking roof, your roofing system still might have sustained some type of damage. Here are some suggestions on how to safely check the roof in the middle of winter and what to look for.

On the Roof

When walking directly on the roof, take all necessary precautions. Pick a day that is not rainy or windy and one with temperatures above freezing (0 degrees Celsius). Take note of any parts of the roof that feel soft or have a little too much “give.”

Look for:

  • missing shingles
  • damaged (curled or cracked) shingles
  • patches of damp that should have dried up since the last rainfall
  • loose flashings
  • missing flashings
  • roof projections not securely fastened
  • accumulation of debris in roof valleys

Don’t forget, the gutters are part of the roofing system too. From your birds-eye view, inspect them for clogs. If there is only a small amount of debris in the gutter channel, it most likely won’t do any immediate harm and can wait until the gutters are cleaned in the spring.

Roof by Ladder

If you don’t want to brave direct contact, conduct a roof inspection by ladder. To help you see as much as possible, reposition the ladder as needed. Use binoculars; they’ll let you zoom in to take a closer look without having to actually walk on the roof.

Check for missing roofing tiles, water stains, and flashing and roof projections that have become loosened or are damaged. “Smudged” shingles or dirty patches could be an indication of roofing tiles that have lost their protective granules.

Check the fascia – ensure the gutters have not pulled away from the house or are sagging.

From the Ground

If you want to avoid climbing up on the roof or hauling out the ladder, you can still see what your roof is up to by conducting a visual inspection from the ground. With a pair of binoculars, look for anything out of place, potential trouble spots and missing shingles or sections of flashing.

How to Maintain Downspouts

Gutters and downspouts protect a very important investment – your home. Even though together they make up the gutter system, often downpipes get the short end of the stick when it comes to maintenance. But overlooking the important role downpipes play can lead to costly repairs to not only the gutters, but to also to siding, the roof, or soffit and fascia.

Keep Downpipes Free of Debris

When debris enters the gutters, twigs, dirt, leaves, pine cones, etc. can collect in the gutter channel or in downspout itself if it doesn’t exit the gutter system via the downpipes. Clogs also might form at the gutter outlet where the downspout is joined to the gutters or in the elbow at the bottom of the downpipe. Keeping downpipes free of debris prevents rainwater from backing up into the gutter channel, causing gutters to overflow or allowing water to remain inside the gutter sections.

Periodic Inspections

In addition to regular cleanings, downspouts should be inspected with every change of season and periodically throughout the winter moths. They get buffeted by wind, heavy rains, and branches, resulting in loosened brackets, misalignment and damage such as dents (restricting water flow) and scratches (corrosion or rusting). In violent storms, downpipes can become completely disconnected from the gutter system.

If you use some type of downspout extender or splash block to manage rainwater draining too close to your foundation, check to make sure it is still attached or hasn’t shifted or been moved.

Take Action ASAP

After inspecting the downspouts and you discover loosened nails or a clog in the mouth of the downpipe, don’t ignore it. Weather permitting, make time to fix what’s wrong. Tightening loose nails, screws and fasteners will stop the section of pipe from being loosened even more or worse, becoming dislodged. You want to reposition a splash block or reattach a downspout extension immediately to avoid pooling water or rainwater from washing soil away from the foundation. Taking the time now to repair downspouts can help you avoid the cost of extensive repairs while extending the life of your gutter system.

Soffit Lights

Exterior lighting is one of the simplest methods to add a level of security to your property. A well-lit house is a deterrent to burglars. Using soffit lights to illuminate the front door, steps and other areas of your home’s exterior will help protect your home. It is also an excellent way of increasing your nighttime curb appeal.

What is Soffit Lighting?

A soffit light is a type of outdoor lighting intended to fit into the soffit panels of the eaves, a porch ceiling, a veranda ceiling or the garage roof overhang.

Soffit lights go by a number of names including can lights, pot lights or downlights.

A soffit light is typically designed with an exterior trim to cover the hole cut into the soffit, while the electrical elements are encased in housing to protect the lighting fixture (and your home) from potential fire hazards.

Considerations

Purpose: What is the purpose of installing soffit lights? Want to be able to clearly see the lock? Select an angled soffit downlight over the front door. Give the exterior of your home depth and definition with second storey soffit lights.

Safety ratings: Any outdoor light fixture you purchase should be industry standard and have the applicable product safety certifications for its use.

Space: Select the appropriate size and number of soffit light fixtures for the space you will have to work with – typical overhangs can vary from 12 inches or less to 36 inches.

Types of Soffit Lights

Voltage: 120-V systems generally cost less than 12-V low-voltage fixtures, but 12-Volt systems are more energy-efficient.

Bulb type: Common bulbs used in soffit light fixtures include LED, compact florescent and halogen. Factors for selecting one kind over another are: the cost to operate, the cost to buy, and how much heat is emitted.

Size: While 4-inch pot lights are the most common size for 12-V models and 6-inch soffit lights are typically paired with 120-V systems, outdoor recessed lighting 3” and 5” diameter options.

Features: Decide on what features are important to you. Although round is popular, square soffit lights are also available. Do you want a baffle to diffuse or change light flow? When a downlight won’t cut it, try an eyeball or gimbal fixture that can be angled to shed light where it’s needed.