Ask Your Question

Angie's List Answers is the trusted spot to ask home improvement and health questions and get answers from service companies, health providers and consumers. For ratings and reviews on companies in your area, search Angie's List.

Top 30 Days Experts
Rank Leader Points*
1 kstreett 240
2 Guest_9020487 110
3 Guest_9190926 105
4 GoldenKid 100
5 ahowell 95
6 KnowledgeBase 95
7 skbloom 80
8 Guest_98024861 70
9 Guest_9311297 70
10 Guest_9400529 70

*Updates every 4 hours

Browse Projects By Category

Question DetailsAsked on 5/22/2012

My plywood soffits are delaminating and the fascia boards are wet. There is no drip edge. Can one be installed under existing shingles?

My understanding is that drip edges are what is needed to fix/prevent this problem, and there are none installed anywhere on this ten-year-old roof. The shingles themselves are in good shape and I want to know if they can be lifted up somehow, and a drip-edge installed underneath them. However I am concerned that the underlying plywood might be wet and even rotted at the edge, I don't know yet.

House is a Swiss-chalet with vaulted ceiling and sharp 45-degree roof lines. The soffits have to be torn out and replaced, and probably the fascia boards as well. The fascia boards are very wide - 1 x 12. The plywood soffits are attached right to the roof joists so they parallel the roof line. Also wondering if I can replace with vinyl or aluminum soffits.

Do you have the same question? Follow this Question

7 Answers

Voted Best Answer

Some good points above. I'm also curious about your attic ventilation. Around our part of the country soffits will rot out due to a lack of ventilation causing condensation to form. With such large fascia boards and such a steep roof I'm curious how water could be getting to these areas unless there is a roof leak or some other major issue. The damage could also be due to an ice dam forming in the winter pushing water back up the roof but just installing drip edge or gutters won't remedy that. Drip edge can be added after the fact, generally without too much trouble, but I suspect you have bigger issues. Have a roofer inspect the roof from top to bottom. Also, take out a rotten section of soffit and look for signs of water coming from higher up the roof and collecting there or backing up from ice as i mentioned before. If you can determine the source you'll know better how big the problem really is.

Todd Shell
Todd's Home Services
San Antonio, TX

Answered 8 years ago by Todd's Home Services


I am an advocate of gutters on any eave/drip over hang (not gable/rake overhangs). In other words installing gutters where ever the water drains. A gutter with gutter flashing* solves alot of problems including your rotten wood issue because it prevents the water from meeting the wood. It also helps prevent erosion of your soil around the house and possible seepage into the basement and/or crawl space.

Can you install a drip edge now? Maybe. It however becomes difficult to retrofit after the fact due to nails, ice shield etc, especially if the previous roofer didn't leave enough overhang of the shingle. How old is the roof, why did they not install a drip edge or gutter?

If you are concerned with rotten wood beneath your roof, a skilled roofing contractor can re-do the edge of the roof, fix the wood, install an ice shield, drip edge or gutter and new shingles.

A 1x12 fascia board on eaves/drip over hangs is highly unusual. However not out of the ordinary on gables/rakes.

If the fascia wood is rotten you must fix the wood before you clad with either vinyl or aluminum. However in most cases the old plywood soffit can simply be stripped out and need not be installed if installing vinyl or aluminum soffit panels. This assumes you have a freize board or other such nailer board at the wall to secure the "J" channel for the soffit. This nailer may need to be installed as part of the project.

Generally we recommend aluminum fascia cladding and aluminum or vinyl soffit cladding. I am not a big fan of the vinyl fascia cladding which (some of it) looks cheap.

Now would also be the time to assess ventilation with your roof since soffit intake ventilation can very easily be added.

*Above I mentioned a gutter flashing. A gutter flashing and drip edge are NOT the same thing.


Answered 8 years ago by ReliableAmericanRoof


Thanks for the fast answer, Reliable. You already raised a few things I didn't even know about or consider. I think you are suggesting I don't need the plywood soffits at all, so maybe my money would be better spent on installing new gutters on the eaves where needed. I have seen houses where the roof joists are just left exposed (but does this mean I . When I purchased the weekend/vacation house 9 years ago the roof was brand new based on pieces of shingle I found on the ground and small upper deck off the master bedroom. I had no idea about the drip edge issue, and for that matter (as of now) what an ice shield is or how it should be installed. The house is in the Poconos and ice is an issue. The wide fascia boards are on both the gable and eave ends. There is only maybe an inch of shinges overhangi ng the gable ends so water runs down across the front of the 1x12 fascia board there, and maybe for that matter wicking underneath them. Hopefully the picture below will give you a better idea - not at the place now so I don't have photos of soffits themselves.

Answered 8 years ago by Eric - Poconos


Here is a detail of the front of the house (this pic is 9 years old so it looks good here). Soffits are visible underneath gable ends - this is where delaminatng is happening now. Note wide fascia and no gutters on eave end over driveway.

Answered 8 years ago by Eric - Poconos


Exposed rafters are a design consideration at the time the house is built, especially on older homes. In these cases the wall will extend up to the bottom of the sheathing, thus preventing birds, animals and insects from gaining access into your attic and wall space. Keep in mind if this is what you have behind that plywood soffit, which would be unusual unless retrofit in the past and not likely based on your picture, then soffit ventilation wouldn't help. Just so there is no confusion, I'll rephrase: If your intake is blocked in any way including by the wall soffit vents won't help and you should consider some other kind of ventilation product such as an edge vent or smart vent installed on the roof behidn the blockage. However if your problem is not related to ventilation, and it could be, then maybe better to let the sleeping dog lie?

You do have a gutter on part of the house but it looks like it was installed on an angular fashion attached to the fascia boards. Correct? If so this is not really proper, as the rear of the gutter should have been shimmed using any one of various methods so that the gutter would stand vertical, rather than angled. If you were one of my customers I would also be recommending oversized 6" gutters and oversized 3x4" downspouts.

Having said that due to the angled fascia you really wouldn't "need" a gutter. I was visioning a vertical fascia in my previous post. A gutter would still be recommended though.

Sounds to me like the seller probably needed a new roof and went cheap just to flip the house and say the roof was new. Home inspectors very often don't pick up on the subtelties like a full time roofer would. Since the roof is 9-10 years old, I'd suggest paying a licensed roofing contractor (not a roofing salesman) to perform a thorough inspection of your roof and provide a report with photos. It may cost a few hundred bucks, but may save you thousands in interior repairs. I always find it cheaper to be proactive.

If you would like to learn more about the shingle roof as a system (including ice shield), please visit this link: This link will explain about ice damning and attic ventilation:

Answered 8 years ago by ReliableAmericanRoof


The photo below is a closeup of a front corner of the house near the entrance, where you can see the edge of the gutter. The gutter is fairly level, looks like the back edge is attached directly to the angled fascia and the front by vertical straps to the fascia above it. I see now that in this 9-year-old photo I had a delaminating problem even then, because it is clearly visible in this photo (I highlighted a section of the delaminated edge). I'd say the soffits are nothing more than 1/4" plywood nailed directly to the bottom of the rafters which would mean no ventilation at all. Is this a common practice or a cheap shortcut? Is there a better design approach? There is no accessible large attic in the house, most of it is a vaulted ceiling with some small storage areas off the top floor master bedroom. The house is largely unoccupied during the winter except for occasional weekends; otherwise I keep the interior at about 40 degrees. Obviously I do need an expert inspection and diagnosis, but there are only one or two roofers listed on Angie's list in my area that have had any user reviews and feedback. I really do appreciate the assistance and informative replies here so I can at least get a basic understanding of the condition and my options.

Answered 8 years ago by Eric - Poconos


It's often harder to find reputable contractors of all types in rural areas. Vacation hot spots tend to be even harder because the crooked love preying on the guys that only have a few days to meet with contractors and get the work done before heading back to home and work.

Regardless of vaulted ceilings or not the roof needs to breathe. Ther should have been baffles installed between the insulation and roof deck to allow free air flow against the deck. Also, it is not recommended practice to use the roof rafter as ceiling joists also for this very reason. Air flow is important. Local code is 1 s.f. net free air ventilation per 150 square feet of attic space, regardless of ceiling type. Check you local codes for variances to that in your area.

I'm not saying it is a venitlation issue for sure. It could easily be a roof leak as well. With that steep of a pitch water will typically travel to the base and drip unless it encounters a barrier along the way. No decent plumber would have run plumbing pipes through those roof joist cavities (except vent stacks where necessary) so I wouldn't jump to that possiblilty until I eliminated others first. Check with the BBB for plumbers as well. Look at any complaints they may have and how they were resolved. Their grading system is a bit biased so you can't always go on that.

Todd Shell
Todd's Home Services

Answered 8 years ago by Todd's Home Services


Thanks for the photos - makes it SO much nicer to actually be able to see the issue at hand.

I agree with what the other commenters said before this - to me, the key statements are where you say (and show) the shingles have almost no overhang so wickingup under them is likely, and that the soffit is unventilated 1/4" plywood - so you have zero ventilation getting up under the roof.

Obviously just a guess till you tear off the soffits, but my guess given design and location, is that your attic is frosting up due to lack of ventilation, then it melts on warmer days and in the spring (and we may be talking an inch or more of frost here), and it is running down the underside of the sheathing till it drips on the soffit or hits the fascia board, then rotting both that and the soffits.

My recommendation - get rid of the soffits entirely. Soffits are BAD - they are there for appearance only (assuming you have insect/rodent screening at the eaves), and even if ventilated they restrict airflow up under the roof. And in your environment, exposed rafters are standard for lodge houses - just leave them out. Once the soffits are out, you will be able to see if your rafters are rotting, if water is running down the underside of the sheathing or (with a flashlight) if you have frost in your rafter bays, etc.

My guess - you will see frost (given during cold weather like now) on the underside of the sheathing, and if you have air leaks from bathroom or kitchen fans into the attic (or if they are vented up there into the attic as many lazy installers do) you will see some masses of ice at those locations - need to fix those so they vent properly through the roof. If frost has been melting and running down the underside of the sheathing for a long time, especially if unpainted (which it should be), then the grain on the wood will be raised - looks like lots of cracks parallel with the grain and splinters starting to lift off, due to the moisture expansion and drying. If not delaminating the plywood, I would not be concerned by that by itself, assuming you solve the water problem.

The photo showing the end of the house and the balcony certainly looks like you have ridge vents, so removing the soffits may well solve your moisture problem by getting ventilation up in there.

If there is rotted, delaminating sheathing down by the fascia boards then you may need the lower edge of the roof redone. Depending on the amount of damage, since it looks like you do not have a good overhang, trimming the roof and rafters back 4-8 inches does not look like a solution, but if only the tips are shot I have solved problems like this (short shingles) by cutting back the rafters and the sheathing an inch or so, if only the very front edge is bad. You might have to do some roof resheathing and reshingling at the lower edges IF sheathing is rotted, extending the rafter tails if they are rotted, and redoing the fascia and gutters - but my guess is it is just wicking under the shingles to the front of the sheathing,then into the fascia, plus any frost melt from the rafter bays. My guess - with the steep roof, and assuming the roofer put ice and water shield correctly along the bottom 6 feet (3' by code, but should be 6' in your area) I don't see roof leakage as most likely being the problem, so trashing the soffits, some sanding on the rafter tails to remove molded or slightly rotted surfaces, maybe a bit of tip trimming, installing drip edge and new fascia board and replacing gutters (preferably with prepainted aluminum fascia covers behind them for best protection, but not imperative with back raked fascia like you have) might well take care of the entire problem for something in the $1-2,000 range. Unless the rake boards are rotted, I would just drip edge them - or for more protection, dripedge and prepainted aluminum fascia covers.

(You should be able to see the ice and water shield under the front edge of the shingles, or may have been (improperly) trimmed off at the edge of the sheathing - black heavy plastic sheet material, looks like this, usually sticky backed - link also has images of how it works and where it is used - drip edge goes UNDER the shield and OVER the plywood sheathing when installed.

Obviously, you need a roofer (or two, if the first one sounds too eager to do mass tearoff) to look at it to see the actual in-place situation and give recommnedations, then have a couple give bids on a written stated scope of work.

If you are committed to soffits, at least use non-wood so they don't rot, provide maximum free air vent space (so-called "continuous slot" soffits), and make sure they are gapped from the fascia board so any frost or drips getting on them drips free instead of standing against the back of the fascia board - preferably with a wide piece of drip edge or standoff nylon mesh with plastic facing on the back of the fascia so any water from the soffits drips off the front edge of them, then hits the drip edge/plastic sheeting and gets deflected away from the fascia to the ground. Do NOT put a waterproof cover or facing on the back of the fascia - make sure anything you put there has an air gap behind it so if the fascia board gets damp, it can evaporate from the back. And do NOT paint under the rafters, sheathing, or back of the fascia board - the "dry" side should be unpainted to promote evaporation of any wetness in the sheathing rafters/fascia.

Good luck

Answered 6 years ago by LCD

Related Questions

Terms Of Use
Privacy Policy