How to Repair Rotted Soffit and Fascia

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The fascia board and soffit plywood rotted because it rested on the roof shingles and soaked up rain water. The wood fascia board was replaced with rot-proof PVC composite board. Flashing is installed at the roof valley to channel the rain water away from the fascia and soffit.

How to Repair Rotted Soffit and Fascia

The rotted area is shown here where the fascia board rests on the main roof:

Rotted Fascia and Soffit at Roof Junction

Rotted Fascia and Soffit at Roof Junction

A challenge is working on a 12/12 pitch steep roof on the second story of the home.

Rotted Fascia and Soffit

I noticed the plywood soffit was cracked and curling under the eaves on where it contacted the main roof. It was difficult to fully assess the problem from ground level, so I got a ladder and zoomed in with my camera. Definitely a water intrusion problem here:

Water Damaged Fascia and Soffit

Water Damaged Fascia and Soffit

Attic Inspection

I didn’t have to wait very long for a rainy day to look at the problem from inside the attic. I carefully maneuvered myself in the attic to get a look at soffit from the inside. I did this for two reasons:

  1. To see the extent of the rain water intrusion.
  2. To better understand the soffit and frame construction.

The soffit is located below the rafter ends in the yellow square in this next photo:

Attic Soffit Inspection

Attic Soffit Inspection

I couldn’t get close enough to the exterior wall to see into the soffit cavity due to the wedge of the roof and nails sticking out, but I was able to reach out with the camera and take photos. There are several problems here:

  1. Rain water is soaking the fascia board where it contacts the roof. This is the blackened area.
  2. Rain water is leaking and pooling on top of the plywood soffit.
  3. Squirrels have gotten into the attic at some point during the last 9 years to store nuts, leaving a mess.
Rotted Fascia Board: Rain Water Leaking on the Fascia and Soffit

Rotted Fascia Board: Rain Water Leaking on the Fascia and Soffit

Closeup of the fascia board water damage where it lays on the roof. It was raining when I took these photos. The rain water is leaking onto and behind the fascia board.

Wet and Rotted Fascia Board on the Roof Shingles

Wet and Rotted Fascia Board on the Roof Shingles

I checked between the roof rafters along the soffit. The story was pretty much the same along this section of the soffit. Rain water intrusion and nuts from squirrels in the attic.

Attic View - Roof Deck, Rafters, Lookouts, Fascia and Plywood Soffit

Attic View – Roof Deck, Rafters, Lookouts, Fascia and Plywood Soffit

Notice the large carpenter’s gap between the OSB roof deck and the top of the fascia board in the above photo. The shingles lay over the carpenter’s gap into the gutter. Such a large gap in my opinion is sloppy construction and squirrels can get into the attic by wiggling or gnawing through this gap. All my neighbors say their houses are were built the same way with this large ~2″ gap between the roof deck and fascia. A 1/2″ gap is reasonable but not a 2 inches!

I asked my county building inspector if this was a building code violation, he said there’s nothing in building code on this topic, but if he were on an inspection and saw such a gap he would make the builder rework it. I also spoke with a roofing contractor that I met at a roofing supply store near Atlanta. He nodded knowingly at my problem description and that said particular county had updated the local building code specifically to address this issue.

To keep squirrels out of the attic, you can block the gap between the roof deck and fascia by installing:

  1. Wire hardware cloth (wire mesh) under the shingles to keep critters out.
  2. Roof drip edge flashing to cover the gap. Also called “eave drip” flashing.
    I later had my roof replaced and drip edge flashing installed to cover the carpenter’s gap. The attic has been 100% squirrel free ever since.
  3. Gutter covers that fit under the shingles and also cover the ends of the gutter.I chose this option. More details later in this article.

Hint: If you decide to install drip edge flashing, you won’t find many options at the “big box” home improvement stores. Your best bet is to visit a roofing supply store where the professionals shop. I found the sales people at Commercial Roofing Specialties, Inc. to be friendly and helpful with a huge selection of tools and materials.

This repair is continued in How to Repair Rotted Soffit and Fascia – Part 2.

Thanks for reading,

Bob Jackson

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  1. Dorothy Martin August 24, 2010 at 10:41 pm - Reply

    Excellent article! Thanks! Could you tell me kind of bait and trap you used to catch the flying squirrels? And where you placed the traps for your soffit problem? I have tried with a Tomahawk Chipmunk size 1-door cage/box trap, and various baits, including peanut butter, peanuts, apples, cheese, popcorn. Can’t catch anything so far. Also tried a rat trap w/peanut butter. I hear it travel thru the walls, crawl space and attic, mostly very early morning, early evening and various times throughout the night. Don’t think it is a rat or mice because it doesn’t seem to make any attempts to come into the house part to eat, which wouldn’t be too hard.

    • Bob Jackson August 25, 2010 at 6:44 pm - Reply

      The box trap I used is the Havahart One Door Chipmunk & Squirrel Trap with a dab of peanut butter and a couple of mixed nuts – because that’s what was in the pantry. It was winter and my guess is they weren’t picky about food.

      Try placing the trap along a trail or against the wall where they’d be likely to run.

  2. Donna S. November 23, 2018 at 8:20 am - Reply

    Does the fascia boards have to be replaced if they are old and some are rotted before installing new vinyl over the eaves? I live in Kentucky.

    • Bob Jackson November 23, 2018 at 8:57 am - Reply

      The old/rotted wood fascia trim boards need to removed before installing new vinyl boards because:
      * Rotted wood may continue to decay due to dry rot.
      * Nails or screws for the new vinyl trim won’t hold in a rotted wood trim board.
      * Doubled trim boards would extend beyond the edge of the roof deck, causing problems with shedding water into the gutters.
      * Pulling off the old wood trim is not difficult and can be used as a pattern for sawing the new vinyl boards.

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