The most common type of fascia board damage is wood rot. This article directly describes fascia board rot caused by water and how to prevent more fascia board damage from happening.
Gutter systems are designed so that the water goes into the gutters and not behind them. Anytime you have water going behind your gutters, that water is destroying your fascia board and going inside your walls. Once your fascia board gets rotted to the point that it is soft, the fascia can no longer support the weight of the gutters. What eventually happens is the gutter will fall off of the home.
Fascia Boards (pronounced “face-sha”) are the white trim boards installed to the roofing eave of your home. Your homes gutters are mounted to this board. Their main purpose is to cover and protect the exposed rafters and prevent water from going inside your walls. By doing this it gives the home a finished look and also prevents entrance from insects, birds, squirrels, etc…
Fascia comes in a variety of sizes like 1×6″, 1×8″, and 1×10″. To determine what size is needed for your home you will need to measure your existing fascia boards.
There are only a couple choices of materials that Fascia is available in. Wood is the most common material because it is cheapest and easiest to work with. Always remember that all wood will rot from water exposure. Therefore you will need to paint the fascia with a waterproof based paint and sealant.
There are other options for fascia such as composite fascia which is made up of wood chips, sawdust, and epoxy resin. Or you could even get your existing wood fascia wrapped with aluminum or vinyl to act as a shield and protect the wood.
Once Fascia board gets soft it can no longer support the weight of the gutter. Eventually the gutter will fall off of the wall. In the example photo above, you can see the gutter hardware (hidden hangers) are no longer biting into the fascia board. You can also see that the fascia board behind the gutter is discolored and rotting.
The gutters in the pictures above are in the beginning stages of falling of of the home. If it does fall you will likely need to replace the gutter and the fascia board.
Anytime you see gutters hanging off of the house, chances are that the fascia board is damaged. In the picture above you see a gutter that is half on the house, and the other half is hanging to the ground. From the picture it appears they attempted to attach new fascia board to old fascia board, and the old fascia is completely rotten.
If you had a gutter re-secured because it was hanging loose, but then a few weeks later it came loose again… That fascia board is likely too soft and needs to be replaced. As a gutter company that does a lot of repairs, we see this all the time.
In the two above photos (ignore the Christmas lights) you see a gutter with a lot of holes in the back of it. What has happened here is they have re-secured this gutter multiple times and it is still coming loose. The extra holes are a dead giveaway of this and also the mixture of multiple styles of hangers. (gutter spikes, hidden hangers, self tapping screws, etc…) The reason for this, is the fascia board damage is too much and the board can no longer support the weight of the gutter. You could put a gutter spike every 2 inches, but those spikes will all pull loose soon enough.
In both of these pictures you may also notice that there is no DRIP EDGE present on the roofing eave. Drip Edge is a very essential component of the gutter system and roofing eave of your home. It’s purpose is to make sure no water goes under the shingles or behind the gutter. However, when there is no drip edge the water just destroys everything.
Over time the paint on fascia boards will flake off. The paint was the protection layer so once this happens the wood is vulnerable to water damage. The white boards are the easiest to spot discoloration on.
By taking a lap around your home every 6 months to a year you can keep an eye on your fascia boards. Since the gutters are mounted to the boards, you may only get to see the bottom or the top of the wood. Look for any signs of rot on the exposed sections of wood you can see. One general rule of thumb is to poke the fascia with a screwdriver. If it’s solid it is still good. However if your screwdriver goes into the wood itself, then that wood is getting soft.
Anything from cracks, splits in the wood, paint peeling, moss, mold, wet spots, termites is all considered fascia board damage. Since the gutter is mounted to the board and it is higher up, you may need to use a ladder to get an up close view.
As we’ve discussed above, once the fascia board starts to rot then everything else that is attached to it is also at risk of falling. Sometimes fascia board holds up the soffit that is installed under overhanging roofs. (like in the photos below) Not all homes have soffit, so you shouldn’t use the soffit as your deciding factor.
Once the fascia starts to rot the gutter is usually the first thing that comes loose. Not all homes have soffit, so you shouldn’t use the soffit as your deciding factor. But if you do see the soffit starting to fall out in one section, you should have them check the fascia when re-installing the soffit.
The short answer is “yes”. You can repaint your fascia boards if you catch them early enough before any significant damage has occurred. The fascia has to still be hard and solid for it to work. To do this you would need to completely remove all gutter and hardware attached to the fascia. Next step would be to scrape away all loose paint. Then paint the fascia boards using a waterproof paint. (pre-primed preferably) Lastly, you would reinstall the gutter system after the paint has dried.
Fascia Board rot is an irreversible process. Once water has wore away and penetrated the water proof seal the wood is now vulnerable. Re-painting your fascia every few years will increase the life span of your fascia.
The cost to remove and reinstall the gutters plus have a professional painter paint your fascia is going to be almost as expensive as replacing the fascia wood itself. If you are not handy with tools or don’t have any friends to help you, then re-painting your fascia isn’t always best option. And that’s because you’ll be paying almost as much (about 75% of the cost) to repair it than you would pay to replace with all new wood.
Replacing damaged fascia board can be a time consuming project. The problem is that you need to remove all gutter and hardware that is mounted to that section of fascia board. Here is a brief step by step guide describing how to replace damaged fascia board. However, we do not recommend attempting this unless you know what you are doing. Keep in mind that these directions are very basic and require some knowledge of measuring/cutting wood.
Fascia board is considered a very essential part of your gutter system and roofing eave. To get the most life out of these boards as possible you’ll need to keep an eye on them and act fast if you see signs of damage. Always remember that there is no repair for rotting wood. It will need to be replaced.
And most importantly, keeping your gutters regularly cleaned and maintained is the best thing you can do for your home. Gutter negligence is the #1 cause of all problems with your gutter system. If debris is piled up in your gutter than water could be going behind the gutter and damaging the wood.
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