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Strengthen Soffits

06/25/2024

Make Resilient Upgrades | Strengthen Your Home • Hurricanes | Roofs

Why do they matter?

Your home is vulnerable to damage during hurricanes, severe thunderstorms, or tornadoes when roof ridge vents, soffits, valleys, and other roof accessories fail. Securing the components of your roof during a storm can prevent water intrusion, the creation of windborne debris, and subsequent damage to your home's roof and interior. Strengthen these parts of your roof today, so you are ready when high winds arrive.

What do I need to know?

Roof accessories refer to various products and materials used in conjunction with a roof system to enhance its functionality, appearance, or both. Some standard roof accessories include:

  1. A soffit is a horizontal surface outside on the underside of the eaves. The eave is the area of the roof that overhangs the exterior walls. Properly installed and braced soffits resist wind forces and keep water out when the wind drives rain against the outside walls pushing through soffits and into the home's attic. Soffit failure during recent hurricanes continues to present a challenge. It has caused widespread and costly ceiling and interior damage. The good news is that soffit bracing is a high-impact yet low-cost DIY home improvement project.
  2. Attic ventilation openings include soffit vents, ridge vents, off-ridge vents, gable rake vents, and turbines. Post-storm damage investigations often find attic ventilation openings that failed to resist high-wind pressure or keep wind-driven rain from entering the home.
  3. Ridge vents are installed at the roof's peak to allow hot air to escape from the attic, improving ventilation. Shingles on roof ridges often blow off in hurricanes or severe windstorms. Vented ridge caps should be fastened adequately to ensure wind resistance. Low-profile ridge vents are a good choice as they are less vulnerable to high wind.
  4. Roof valleys are problematic in severe weather because they experience significant water flow. They can create ponding if they collect leaves and debris, leading to water seepage into the attic.
  5. Rooftop exterior equipment includes exhaust fans, fan cowlings, and vent hoods. This type of equipment can blow off during high-wind events due to insufficient anchorage, inadequate equipment strength, or rusting fasteners and straps.
  6. Flashings are metal pieces installed around chimneys, vents, and other roof openings to prevent water from seeping into the roof.
  7. Gutters and downspouts are installed at the roof's edge to collect rainwater and direct it away from the building's foundation.
  8. Skylights are installed on the roof to allow natural light into the building.
  9. Snow guards are installed on the roof to prevent snow from sliding off and potentially causing damage to property or people below.
  10. Solar panels are installed on the roof to generate electricity from sunlight.
  11. Chimney caps are installed on chimneys at the top to prevent debris and animals from entering.

Where do I start?

Have a licensed general or roofing contractor inspect your roof accessories to ensure they are anchored and secure.

More Resources:

FLASH. Resilient Design Guide: High-Wind Wood Frame Construction Edition

HurricaneStrong.org Soffit Checklist

Buyers Guide to Resilient Homes – Hurricane and Tornado Checklists

FEMA 499, Home Builder's Guide to Coastal Construction Technical Fact Sheet Series

Technical Fact Sheet No. 7.5, Minimizing Water Intrusion through Roof Vents in High-Wind Regions

FEMA P-55, Coastal Construction Manual: Principles and Practices of Planning, Siting, Designing, Constructing, and Maintaining Residential Buildings in Coastal Areas

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