Roofs protect the home
from rain and snow but not all moisture is vertically distributed.
When the weather gets rough and the rain and sleet begin to drive
sideways at the home a roof becomes a marginal protection and water
damage may be the result. As well, roofing directs a disproportionate
amount of water over the sides and into a concentrated area which
could ultimately run into the basement. This is where gutters,
soffits and fascia come in.
Soffits Fill the Gap
A soffit is a single piece of sheet material or vinyl shaped to go
underneath the projecting rafters of a building frame, perpendicular
to the house wall. Although vented, the soffit prevents water from
getting up under the rafters ans onto the joists which form the
ceiling for the rooms below. Besides making the ceiling wet the water
can make the insulation in the attic ineffectual.
Before the use of metal
soffits the underside of the rafters was clad with plywood and
painted. In many cases over the years the wood would warp and crack
which would allow moisture to penetrate. Prepainted aluminum soffits,
made in standard widths of 12 to 48 inches and in lengths up to 12
feet, made the job of both building and replacing soffits easier.
These are fastened to a horizontal strip which runs both along the
wall of the house and on the lip of the fascia, which covers the
“rafter tails” of the roof. The soffits are lain on top
of these strips and fastened to them.
is the “facing” and can be made as wide as the rafter
tail and is, in essence, the cladding which protects them from rot.
They are installed under the drip edge of the roof so that water runs
over into the gutter. Like the soffits they can be made from vinyl
but most homes use aluminum because they can be bent on site to the
Although vinyl has made
inroads in the past 20 years aluminum and steel are the two most
commonly installed gutter materials. The pros of aluminum gutters are
that they' are inexpensive and will never rust. Steel gutters are
stronger and resist denting from ladders and tree damage and will
hold their shape. However, water sitting in a steel gutter will have
a high probability of causing rust and perforation.
are usually formed onsite for a seamless, leak-proof job. Thes
companies had a machine which forms the gutters from a rolled
aluminum (.032” - .025” thicknesses) that is formed into
several profiles and sizes, the most common of which are the “K”
and “U” shapes. The channel for the water removal is
usually made to 5 inches and the downspouts are 2” x 3”
or 3” x 4” rectangular tubes. You can go larger, or have
round ones made, especially if there are a lot of trees where the
leaves can easily cause clogs.
The mounting of gutters
is against the fascia and this edge is tucked under the drip edge of
the roof so that the leading edge of the shingle will direct the
water into the channeling. Your contractor will hang the gutters
along a chalk line for a slope of 1/4 inch for each 10 feet toward a
downspout. Without this slight incline the water will sit in the
parts of gutter that are slightly lower than the lipof the downspout.
In wintry areas this can freeze and compromise the seals or even pry
the gutters from the rafter tail making them loose and prone to being
blown off by a high wind. As well, standing water breeds mosquitoes
and black flies.
For more information on
sheet metal gutters, soffits and fascia go to Renovation Experts.