Not only does a roof have to keep the water out of a home, it has to "breathe." Finding an experienced roofer that understands how soffits, fascias and roof vents work together can help your roof do just that. Below, you'll find descriptions of these roofing items, as well as a brief explanation of how a roof breathes.
Soffits and Fascias
A roof is much more that the covering that reaches from the center point to the edges. While it is important that this section be waterproof, it is equally important that the soffits and the fascias receive just as much care.
What Are Soffits?
In order to be effective, a roof extends beyond the wall line, creating the eaves. The soffits are located underneath those eaves. They give the roof a more finished look and close any gaps that would allow birds, bats or other wildlife to move in.
In vintage homes, like Victorians, traditional soffits are made of wood. In more contemporary designs, as well as in some renovations on older homes, soffits may be aluminum or vinyl. On older homes, it's not unusual to pair a wooden soffit with a vinyl or aluminum soffit vent.
What Are Fascias?
Think of a fascia as a vertical outline that runs along your roof edge. It is attached at the end of the rafters, and supports the gutters. The fascia frames the roof edge, covering up any uneven edges to provide a more finished look. This is a design feature of more modern homes, but a roofer can usually add a fascia to a vintage home when doing a remodel.
Fascias don't have any vent holes. Instead, a ventilation gap is usually left along the top of the fascia, where it joins the roof line. The soffit sits under the fascia. Both soffits and fascias may be made of the same materials.
Types of Roof Vents
Four types of non-powered roof vents are typically used with soffits and fascias.
- Ridge vents run along the ridge line, or the roof peak. These long vents run from one edge of the roof to the other, with the ends tilted at a slight downwards angle to keep rain and snow from getting inside. Ridge vents are nailed down end to end along the ridge, then covered with fitted shingles to provide a more finished look.
- Static vents are strategically placed holes in a roof that have some sort of covering to prevent water from getting inside. Most vent covers are round or square and sit horizontal to the surface. An "eyebrow" vent cover looks like curved, questioning eyebrow and has a lower profile. When skilfully applied, these vents may be barely visible from the ground.
- Wind turbines are usually found on flat roofs. They are quite efficient, using the power of the wind to turn the mushroom-shaped domes that turn an internal fan. That fan pulls out any hot air from the attic.
- Gable vents are slightly different. They are only installed at the gable, which is the triangular peaked point created where the two sides of a roof meet. The vents are installed at the top of the triangles on the gable walls. Sometimes gable fans, mounted just behind the vents, are used to draw out even more hot air.
How a Roof Breathes
When you combine the soffits, fascias and the various vents, you create the "lungs" of a roof. The most efficient breathing system uses the ridge vent. Remember, hot air rises because it is lighter than cold air. Think about hot air balloons. The propane burner heats the air that fills the balloon and sends it soaring.
The cool air enters the roof through the vents in the soffit and through the ventilation gap in the fascia. The cool, heavier air forces the lighter, hotter air to the top of the attic and out of the ridge vent. Even during the cooler seasons, the air brought in from outside is usually cooler than what is in the attic. The exchange of air may slow down, but it still happens.
For more information on helping your roof breathe, contact a professional roofing company like Home Advancement.