Word Smith: Soffit

A local builder took one look of our roof in 1988 and he told us we needed to replace it. “Why?” we asked. “Your attic is not breathing so the roof is frying every hot day,” he told us at our meeting. “That is because your soffits are blocked!” He was explaining why, after 10 years of life, we had to replace our “20+ year roof.”

“Whoever did the work and subsequent paint jobs blocked the soffits, which allow your attic to breathe.” With that warning, we knew we had little choice but to repair the tinder-dry plywood and asphalt roof tiles or risk further attic and drainage problems. As Uncle Jim Hooper used to lament, “A leaky roof never gets better by itself.”

It is funny how you learn things in life. The expression “ignorance is bliss” is so true. If you don’t know something exists, you don’t worry about it. Having never heard the word soffit, there seemed no connection with construction, home ownership, roof breathing or attic health. We soon were educated in this area of blissful ignorance and we had to pay for our previous laissez faire attitude.


Our home had neither fascia vents nor functioning soffit vents. The soffit areas were spray and brush painted so thoroughly that the circular vents did not “breathe,” a key component to attic health. Who knew that homes had health issues? And ours had emphysema and was on life support.

With some new construction in our future, we realized that the work would include replacing the entire roof. As we dug further into this new area of knowledge, we discovered that because of the coloring of the original asphalt roof tiles, it was impossible to match the coloring. We had to get a new roof eventually. And sooner was better than later, when misfortune could have struck.

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So with the help of our contractor, we put our addition on the house and replaced the entire roof, added new plywood, where needed, new soffits and vents and new fascia vents and new ridge caps and vents and on and on. Lots to learn indeed. It seems that the more you know the more the home owns you, rather than the other way around.


Now that we know, we wanted to spread the word. Soffit or burn.