The underside of your roof – specifically, the area where the roof meets the walls and comes out from the house – is known as the eaves. They protect the sides and the house’s foundation from the weather, such as rainwater running down the siding and causing flooding in the basement or crawl space.
The term “eaves” derives from “efes”, an Old English word with Germanic origins and means “edge”. The word “eavesdropper” refers to a person who would stand next to the house, under the protection of the eaves and listen to the conversations inside the house. The area underneath the eaves, where the rain hits the ground, is called the eavesdrip, or dripline.
This article will look at the parts of an eave, the different types of eaves you may see, and why they are important to have on your house. We will also discuss why it’s essential to maintain the eaves in your home.
Ready? Let’s begin.
What are the Parts of an Eave?
Fascia and soffits make up the eaves.
You need to stand underneath your eave and look up to find the soffit. The soffit is the building material attached to the underside of the eaves and running parallel to the ground. While the soffit may look solid, it actually has ventilation. The ventilation allows air to flow through the attic to help regulate the temperature inside the house. Soffits also prevent rodents, such as squirrels, chipmunks, and mice, from getting inside your home.
If you back away from the house, you will see a vertical board parallel to the house’s side and perpendicular to the ground. This board is the fascia and connects the soffit and the roof. The fascia helps to hold up the edge of the shingles and allows you to attach gutters.
Different Types of Eaves
There are four different types of eaves: exposed, boxed-in, soffited, and abbreviated. We will explain each type and look at different architecture styles that incorporate eaves into the overall design.
Exposed eaves leave the supporting roof rafters visible. You rarely see exposed eaves on finished homes as they can leave your house open to the environment and can be inviting to pests such as wasps, rodents, or birds’ nests.
Soffited eaves are standard on traditional houses. The underside of the roof is enclosed with vented panels that match the house’s siding.
A boxed-in eave extends beyond the house’s exterior and will attach to the side of the house with the same angle and pitch as the roof. They will have soffit and fascia to enclose the roof rafters, along with decorative moulding and features.
Abbreviated eaves are cut very close to the house and have a minimal overhang. They still have the soffit and fascia to protect the home from the elements but offer very little protection otherwise.
Even though there are four basic styles, you will find plenty of design variations within each type.
Eaves and Architectural Styles
Throughout the ages, architectures have incorporated different types of eaves into their designs so that the eaves have become synonymous with specific architectural styles.
Dutch colonial houses originated in the 1600s and were popular in the United States during that period. Their principal distinction was the broad, barn-like roofs with eaves that curved up slightly.
Homes from the Victorian period have wide eaves with decorative moulding and cornices.
East Asian pagodas have multiple tiered eaves. Each level of eaves is slightly narrower than the one beneath it.
Frank Lloyd Wright made the prairie-style house popular with its low-pitched roofs and wide, overhanging eaves.
A-frame houses are easily recognisable by their steep-pitched roofs with eaves that nearly touch the ground.
Why Do Buildings Need Eaves?
The eaves on the house provide it with a clean, finished look. But, they’re not only decorative, but they are also functional.
Protection From Rain and Snow
The eaves allow rain and snow to fall away from the house. Without eaves, your siding and windows may get leaks, water damage, mildew, and mould. Eaves can extend the longevity of your house’s exterior. They can also prevent leaks where the roofline meets the wall.
Keeping rain and melting snow away from your house will also help keep your basement dry. Water seeping into the ground can work its way into the cracks around your foundation. If the water freezes, it makes the cracks larger, weakening your foundation even more.
During warm summer rains, you can open windows to allow ventilation without worrying about the rain blowing inside.
Protection from the Sun
Wide, overhanging eaves can prevent direct sunlight from coming into your windows and fading your furniture and wall hangings.
Lower Utility Bills
Not only do the eaves provide shade on sunny days, but the ventilation in the soffits can also keep air circulating in your attic. By helping to keep the house cool, your eaves can help reduce your electric bill and make you less reliant on your cooling system.
The eaves of your house also provide a discrete location for adding security cameras to your property.
Drawbacks of Eaves
Eaves have plenty of pros with the form and function they provide, but they also have some cons.
Houses with open eaves may discover hornets, wasps, and birds building their nests among the rafters. Eaves without soffits are also inviting to rodents and bats.
Over time, weather and pests can damage your eaves. Blockage in gutters can cause ice jams and water overflows. Water can work its way up under the shingles, spreading rot. If left unattended, it can spread quickly, leading to even more damage and a leaking roof.
If your eaves need attention, contact Roofing Costs. They will connect you with roofing contractors in your area and find the right professional to meet your needs. You will then receive a free, no-obligation quotes from contractors near you. If you’re unsure where to start, they will also talk you through the process.