Rotting Fascia Boards – maybe you need drip edge flashing

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Are the fascia boards behind your gutters rotting? And does water drip out between your gutters and the house when it rains? This is what is happening at my house.

In this article I’ll go over some things I’ve learned about rotting fascia boards and ineffective gutters. And we’ll look at one likely culprit that could be causing your problems and mine. Hopefully this helps you too.

What is causing your rotten fascia boards? – one culprit exposed

Disclaimer – I am not a roofer or a licensed contractor. I’m just relaying some of the important information I learned while dealing with this issue on my house. Call a licensed and insured company to properly inspect and do work on your property. But this article may give you some things to ask them about so the root cause of your problem will be fixed.

Do I need to get new gutters?

I saw the rotten fascia boards on my house and water dripping past my gutters so I presumed it must be these things that need to be replaced.

Below you can see the fascia board on the back of the house is rotten and sagging down.

Rotten fascia board sagging down.

But interestingly my gutters themselves weren’t dripping.

(It is one long continuous 30ft section of gutter that doesn’t have seams.)

The water was dripping behind the guttersbetween the fascia board and the gutters. (As shown in the picture below.)

Water leaking behind the gutters...between the fascia board and the gutters. The gutters themselves weren't leaking.
Water is leaking behind the gutters.

So what is going on if you have rotten fascia boards and water dripping behind your gutters?

Luckily, I called a gutter company that gave me the honest rundown of what was really going on. The owner came and inspected my house.

The company could have just told me to buy new fascia boards and gutters, and that would have made my house look better.

But in this case, replacing the fascia boards and installing new gutters wouldn’t have solved the underlying problem.

Just like most things in life, the symptoms aren’t the cause. And we need to get down to the cause.

The contractor said the problem is with my roof.

What is the real problem here?

The problem wasn’t with the gutters.

Yes the fascia boards were rotten, but they were rotting for a reason.

What the contractor told me is that the reason the fascia boards rotted, and the reason there was water dripping between the fascia boards and the gutter (and between the fascia boards and the house too), is that…

…my roof didn’t have a proper drip edge.

And the roof didn’t extend over the gutters enough to allow the flowing water to drip into the gutters.

No proper drip edge flashing on my roof so water leaking behind the gutter, and not flowing into the gutter like it is supposed to. This lack of proper drip edge caused the rotting of the fascia boards.
Improper roofing led to gutter and fascia problems.

Instead, the rain was flowing down over the edge of the shingles and dripping down against the fascia boards.

After years of being subjected to that water the fascia boards rotted.

And as the fascia boards rotted the screws that held them in place started pulling out, and the screws that held the gutters into the fascia pulled away too.

Some rain did end up in the gutters which put weight onto the gutters, and the weight of the water caused the gutter to pull farther away from the fascia thereby making the leaking between the house and the gutter even more severe.

You can see in the picture below how the eavestrough (aka gutter) is pulling away from the rotting fascia board.

Gutter is pulling away from the rotting fascia board because the screws holding the gutter in place is pulling out of the fascia board.

If I just replaced the fascia board and put in a new gutter without addressing this underlying problem, I could be dealing with similar issues again in a few years.

Below is a close-up picture of the edge of my roof. You can see how any water flowing off the shingles would just be wicked underneath and behind the gutter. It is no wonder the water is leaking out all along the roof line.

No drip edge flashing along my roof causes the rain water to be wicked via surface tension against the roof sheeting material and against the fascia board.
Close-up edge of roof without a proper drip edge installed.

What did I do about the rotting fascia boards?

Well, after taking a look at the condition of my roof, the gutter company owner said that I’ve got some bigger issues than just rotting fascia. My roof will need to be replaced because it is old and shingles are curling up and sagging in some places.

In his opinion paying the money to install new roofing drip edge onto my existing roof wouldn’t buy me much extra time: the roof will need to be replaced soon anyway.

And if I’m getting the roof replaced, I could get proper drip edge flashing, and new fascia boards put on at that time.

Do you need to install drip edge along your existing roof?

What I’ve learned from this is that the leaking behind the gutters and the rotting fascia boards may be a symptom of a different problem. Your roof might be the problem.

And it might be that you may need to install drip edge flashing along the edge of your roof.

The rain draining off your roof may not be properly dripping into the gutters: it may be leaking onto your fascia boards, and perhaps even wicking up onto the roof’s sheeting material (the stuff underneath the shingles).

To solve this problem you might need that drip edge flashing on your roof.

What should you do?

I suggest you search your local area for a gutter company to inspect your house.

Ask them the cause of the problems you’re having.

Are the problems that you’re seeing just a symptom of a different problem?

Ask them if they do roofing drip edge installation.

They may not do roofing drip edge installs, so you may need to contact a roofing company. Search for a reputable one in your city. Are the workers certified roofers who have done an apprenticeship for roofing?

What is drip edge roof flashing?

Drip edge flashing on a roof is installed along the edge of your roof to ensure that water pouring off the roof gets into the gutters where it belongs.

The video below helps illustrate what a drip edge does and why it is important.

And as you can see from this video, it is important to have the drip edge installed correctly.

The guys from “This Old House” do a good job showing you what a drip edge does. They show you on a roof without a gutter, but it demonstrates what a drip edge does (keeps the water away from the fascia board and roof sheeting and directed toward the gutter where it belongs).

What you’ll see in the video is that if the drip edge flashing isn’t installed correctly – for instance not enough overhang over the fascia board – the surface tension of water will cause it to still hit your fascia boards and still lead to problems.

So like most things, having the right part but installing it incorrectly won’t fix the problem either.

I hope my experience with rotting fascia boards and water leaking behind the gutters has helped you too. (When I get the roof done I’ll try to put up updated photos.)

I’m glad I had an honest person come and tell me about the cause of my problems and not just charge me a couple thousand dollars for new fascia and gutters without addressing the source of the issues.

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