Eaves: An Important Aspect Of Your Roof

The eaves are an important part of the roof, as they form the final seal between the end of the roof and the elements.

Parts of the Eaves

Eaves have two main parts. The fascia is the front-facing board, often where the gutters are attached. This is what many people think of when they are talking about the edge of the roof. The roof drip edge and final layer of shingles lay across the top of the fascia, and the second part of the eaves, the soffit, makes up the bottom of the fascia.

Unlike the fascia boards, soffits are rarely exposed to the elements directly. For this reason, the eave vents are placed into the soffits. The purpose of these vents is to allow air to flow into the attic from outside. This generally cooler outside air pushes hot air and condensation out of the roof through the ridge vents at the top of the roof's peak.

Common Damage

Damage depends in part on the materials that make up the eaves. Wooden eaves are prone to normal wood damage. If the paint wears thin, the boards can absorb moisture and begin to rot, for example. Wood-boring insects can also shorten the life of the eaves. Sometimes, woodpeckers damage eaves by knocking on them when seeking mates or marking territory. Other animals, like squirrels, may chew into them to gain access to the dry attic. Vinyl and metal eaves are less damage-prone, but cracks, dents, or rust can still occur.

Common damage vectors include wind and rain. Sometimes the damage is direct, such as wind ripping off a loose fascia end piece. In other cases, it can be indirect, such as overflowing gutters leading to wood rot on the eaves. In fact, gutters — both clogged gutters and loose gutters that get torn off — are major causes of eave damage. Birds and squirrels are other common causes of damage, as they chew or peck on eaves or pull out soffit vent covers for nesting and shelter.

Prevention and Repairs

The best way to prevent damage is to upgrade to metal or vinyl eaves, as these are simply less damage-prone compared to wood. Properly maintaining the gutters, such as by cleaning them regularly and checking for leaks, will also prevent a lot of damage.

Damaged eaves must be promptly patched or replaced. Soffit vent covers can be replaced with steel covers that aren't easily chewed through. Wood eaves may need regular paint jobs to guard against bare wood.

Contact a roofing service in your area if your eaves are suffering from any type of damage.