Save Your Soffits

Soffit vents are the grates beneath your eaves that help ventilate the attic. If they are blocked, then air can't circulate and that causes problems both inside the attic and outside, on the roof.

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Every time it snows, it rains inside Carol Levinson's 1980s townhouse. She's spent years and thousands of dollars unsuccessfully trying to keep the water out. Now, she’s called in house detective Reggie Marston to help solve her soggy dilemma in her Bethesda, Md., home.

Inspector's Notebook
Soffit vents are the grates beneath your eaves that help ventilate the attic. Air should flow in through the soffit and flow out near the top of the roof. If they are blocked or painted shut over, then air can't circulate and that causes problems both inside the attic and outside, on the roof.

In cold weather, if the attic is not properly ventilated, the warm air in the house will rise into the attic and warm the attic. If there’s snow on the roof, that snow will melt and flow down to the gutters where it’s no longer heated. And then it will freeze and form an ice dam.

As more water flows into the blocked gutters, it will back up under the shingles causing leaks, condensation and mold. You can help prevent this by keeping your vents clear and free of dirt and debris. And do not paint them.

Also, don’t block any attic or roof vents from the inside with insulation or storage items. Check twice a year that the insulation hasn’t shifted to block vents. Consider installing cardboard or plastic baffles to provide proper airflow past the insulation. When it comes to ventilation you need to go with the flow. Proper attic ventilation combined with proper insulation is important to a healthy roof and attic.

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