Ask Angie: Soffit replacement explained
Dear Angie: The soffit over my back door is rotting. Do I hire a carpenter, a handyman or a roofer to replace this? – Marjorie W., Kissimmee, Fla.
Dear Marjorie: A rotting soffit is unfortunately a common problem for homeowners, but not everyone knows exactly what a soffit is, so I first want to explain its purpose so others can look out for potential problems.
The soffit is the board that bridges the gap between a home’s siding and its roofline. It’s located under the horizontal fascia board, which holds the gutters.
Soffits and fascia boards are at risk for water damage typically because of overflowing gutters or ice damming in cold climates.
If the roof drip edge, which directs water into the gutters, is missing or damaged, water will typically rot the fascia board before eventually traveling to the soffit, where it will continue on its destructive path.
Animals like squirrels, birds and raccoons frequently nest in a soffit and could cause damage to the structure as well.
So who is best to repair soffit damage? Any of the trades you mentioned – a qualified carpenter, roofer or a handyman with a proven background in soffit repair, as well as gutter cleaning and repair companies – are capable of doing the repair work, however just repairing the soffit won’t be a permanent solution. First, you need to identify the source of the problem. If you don’t address the source of the rotting, you’ll continue to experience this problem and it will likely only get worse and cost you more money long term. Gutters can pull away from rotting fascia boards and soffits and water can penetrate and damage the home’s interior.
Rotting fascia boards and soffits really underscore the importance of keeping your gutters cleaned. By hiring a reputable gutter-cleaning company to clean your gutters twice a year – or more if you have lots of trees – you can also identify potential problems before they occur. Also, keeping your fascia board and soffit caulked and painted can help seal it and protect it from rotting.
Before you hire anyone to do repair work, check the company’s local reputation, be sure it’s insured and has worker’s compensation protection for its employees.
Angie Hicks is the founder of Angie’s List, a provider of reviews you can trust on contractors, doctors, dentists and other service professionals. More than 1 million consumers across the U.S. use Angie’s List to help make tough hiring decisions easier.