Your roof is probably the most neglected part of your house.
As bad as that sounds, roofs are designed to be left alone. They only need maintenance when something goes wrong.
This normally manifests as a leak, but sometimes you can tell if maintenance is needed by the condition of the fascia and soffits. These are visible from ground level. They are exposed to the elements, and they do weather over time.
What fascias and soffits do
Fascia boards and soffits are an important part of your roof.
A soffit is found on the underside of your roof beside the wall. It is the board you see from ground level. It is tucked underneath the fascia board. Sometimes, soffits have vents for the attic. This is important to deal with condensation.
A fascia board is a vertical barrier covering the edge of your roof. It also carries the guttering. This makes it an essential part of your roof’s weather system. The fascia board is connected to the soffit creating a sealed unit.
Fascias and soffits are sealed at the ends with a box end. A bargeboard then extends up the roof, sealing off the roof at the sides of your house.
Sometimes, fascia boards and soffits will physically separate. This could be for a variety of reasons. Examples include earth movement, worn-out glue and screws, storm damage and extreme construction problems like subsidence.
Physical separation of the fascia board and soffit is often an easy fix, requiring clamping and new adhesion measures to bring them together.
However, if rot is detected, the fascia board or soffit will need to be replaced. This also applies if you have a plastic soffit that has cracked. The good news is boards and soffits are relatively inexpensive parts. The main cost will be labour.
Soffits and fascias made from timber will rot if the paint is penetrated. This happens over a period of 10-15 years. You can extend the life of your fascias and soffits with painting, but it is more economical to use a waterproof material.
If your timber fascias and soffits have rotted, you should upgrade to a UPVC or aluminium product. This will eliminate the issue of rot forever.
This isn’t a problem with the product itself but the result of a flaw in its design. If gaps are left between a soffit and fascia, birds can force their way in. They could get into your eaves and nest. This is a problem if they can’t get out again.
If you have clunking and scratting in your eaves, you have a bird problem. You should get your fascia boards and soffits checked after nesting season to see if they are the problem. If they are, sealing them should be relatively simple.
As a side note, squirrels are also known to use the space inside fascias and soffits to nest. A problem you think is birds could be squirrels.
How to maintain fascias and soffits
For safety reasons, we do not recommend inspecting your fascias and soffits yourself unless you are trained to use a ladder.
The safest way to maintain your fascias and soffits is to have a roofing company inspect them when you get your roof inspected. Ideally, you should have an inspection after each winter, but once every two years is the next best thing.
Routine fascia and soffit maintenance can include replacing fascia and soffit sections, replacing sealant and re-joining.
However, you may need additional roofing work, because soffit and fascia problems can be caused by leaky roofs and leaky gutters. A competent roofer will be able to recommend the best course of action following an inspection.