Completely sealing off the interior of your home from the outside might seem like a good idea, but it actually can lead to air quality issues and even damage to your home's interior. Instead, you want to ensure the exterior of your home is designed with proper ventilation in mind.

Soffit and fascia are two important elements of a proper roof system when it comes to ventilation. Soffits are the boards under your roof eaves while fascias run parallel along your roof, where gutters are placed. While fascia is important for both sealing off the soffit and aesthetics, the soffit itself is what provides ventilation to the attic.

Soffit comes in two forms: vented and non-vented. The difference between vented and non-vented soffit is usually easy to see (vented soffit has holes while non-vented does not). You could use a combination of both vented and non-vented soffit on your home for proper ventilation, depending on how much ventilation you need.

How Vented Soffit Differs From Non-Vented

The primary reason for installing vented soffit is to ensure that your home has proper air circulation in the attic. While it may seem contrary, having proper ventilation actually prevents issues related to moisture build-up and increased energy costs.

Some issues from not having proper airflow are moisture build-up and ice dams. Moisture enters the attic space from both outside the house and inside the house as a result of showering, cleaning and doing laundry. Without proper airflow this moisture is unable to escape and can lead to mildew and mold, and can shorten the life of your shingles.

Without proper airflow, warm air can be trapped within the attic and cause ice dams to form along the roof line as snow and ice on the roof is melted from the warm air and then refreezes on the colder roof edge. The use of vented soffits, along with non-vented soffits, helps prevent ice dams from forming along your roofline. Keep in mind the ratio of vented to non-vented panels will differ depending on your home and your installer’s techniques. It also helps prevents mildew, mold and fungus from infiltrating the home due to excessive moisture build-up.

While there will always be small amounts of moisture that enter your attic, vented soffit combined with another form of ventilation, such as a fan or exhaust vent, will help you get to the right balance of airflow, ensuring this natural moisture won't become trapped.

Importance of a Properly Ventilated Attic

There are a few reasons why a properly ventilated attic using vented soffit is beneficial for homeowners.

A properly balanced attic airflow system using vented soffit can help save on your monthly utility bills as it ensures your house consumes less energy, particularly when it comes to cooling.

Hot air can easily build up in the attic and warm your roof when it has nowhere else to go. This, in turn, heats the rest of the house, leaving you to run your air conditioning more than you would with a properly vented attic.

And if you haven't read over your roof’s shingle warranty, you might not be aware that a lot of companies require some sort of ventilation system for your warranty to be valid.

The reason many roofing manufacturers require a properly vented attic is because of the issues that arise from trapped heat in the summer and ice dams in the winter. Both of these issues can cause serious damage to roof decking such as dry rot and can shorten shingle life and underlayment.

While vented soffit alone isn’t enough to properly ventilate an attic, it can make a significant improvement when combined with additional intake and exhaust vents. Some examples include ridge venting, static vents and gable vents.

Advantages of Using Vented Aluminum Soffit

Soffit comes in a variety of materials that look great with various types of exterior cladding. Wood and vinyl soffit are both quite popular due to their easy availability rather than for their benefits.

Wood soffit is a traditional choice of material. Thick, high-quality wood soffit can last for years but only when properly cared for. As with any wood product, moisture is the enemy.

While rain might not directly hit your wood soffit, exposure to high moisture levels can still lead to mold and rot. Wood is also tempting for insects and rodents to chew on.

In order to protect your wood soffit, you'll need to keep up on surface treatments (such as cleaning, scraping and painting), just as you would with wood siding or decking. This is even more difficult on vented wood soffit, which is why most wood soffit is non-vented.

Vinyl is another popular material for both vented and non-vented soffit. Using vinyl solves the maintenance issues found with wood and comes in a variety of different colors. However, vinyl becomes less durable as it ages: It tends to weaken over time and is prone to becoming brittle and cracked.

A third choice that is neither high-maintenance or brittle is aluminum soffit. Aluminum vented soffit is long-lasting, requires very little care, is insect- and rodent-resistant, and comes in a wide range of color options. Ventilated aluminum soffit is a great way of adding more ventilation to your home's attic and roof. For more information on vented aluminum soffit, contact a representative at Rollex.