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What Are Eaves on a House?

By September 20, 2020June 5th, 2021Roof
What are eaves on a house

Have you ever heard of eaves on a house and wondered what they are? Well, eaves are on the roof of a home and they hang over the edge of the roof and over the walls to provide a few purposes. They provide shade for the house and they keep the home cool or warm.

This results in keeping the electricity bill lower with the angle at which they are mounted.  Additionally, homeowners use them for decorative purposes.

The word “eaves” comes from the Old English word efes which means “edge” or “border.”  Let’s take a look at what eaves are on a house and also why they are important, what they provide, the types, and how to maintain them.

A little known fact about eaves on a house

Eaves are essential as they allow the water to just run off the house.  Before this, the water would go down the sides and make a puddle and indentation in the yard. 

This indentation was called an “eavesdrop.” If someone stood in the “eavesdrop”, they could be said to be an “eavesdropper” as they could hear everything going on in the home.

What are eaves on a house

What Are Eaves On a House?

As mentioned above, they are part of the roof that hangs over the side, protecting the home from weather elements, and issues with foundation and flooding. 

Eaves are made of fascia and soffits. The fascia runs underneath the eaves and goes around the building horizontally and covers the roofs rafters.  The soffit is the paneling that is under the eaves and fills the gap between the rafters from the weather.  

Why eaves should be installed on a home

Eaves are an important part of the home.  Besides protecting the home, they protect the foundation and siding on a house or building.  They don’t encourage puddles to form nor do they destroy the footers or foundation.  They also keep basements dry in homes that have them, as they are located at the meeting of the roof and the wall.

What eaves provide for the home

As mentioned above, they protect the home from the rain and melting snow and keeping the water away from the house.  They can provide warmth to the home in the winter depending on their angle. 

In hotter climates, eaves are shade providers because placing them near windows will keep the home cooler inside in the summer.  Additionally, they come in different widths and that depends on the pitch of the roof. 

A nice feature is that they ventilate roof space and keep the home from overheating in summer months. Nowadays, some people have them so they can put a security camera on the home.

Types of Eaves on a House

Besides serving the purpose of protecting the home, they also have a purpose for style and decoration.

Decorative Eaves

Decorative eaves have an Italian or Spanish influence and are on slightly pitched roofs.  They overhang no more than 2 feet to make the look.  Often, brackets or corbels are added to the architecture to create this look.

Deep Eaves

Deep eaves are wide, have brackets, and are popular on bungalow or ranch style homes.

Overhanging Eaves

Overhanging eaves are popular with many architects wanting to recreate Frank Lloyd Wrights Prairie House style.

Multiple Eaves

Asian Pagodas and Japanese Castles use multiple eaves to create their unique styles.

Maintenance of eaves on a house

It is important to inspect and maintain the roof, eaves, and gutters.  The eaves can leak where they are attached to the home so it is essential to keep an eye on the area.  Protip: You can tell if your eave is leaking by looking for stains at the soffits. They are typically rust or yellow in color.

The soffits that are under the eaves and close the gap between rafters are there to keep out the unwanted pests such as bees, bats, squirrels, and birds.  However, they can find their way in. 

A great maintenance tip is to keep the eave clean and checking them regularly for holes.  Sealing the holes when you see them is important. Also, you can use nettings, sticky stuff, and wires to help with repairs.

If you have gutters, it is important to keep those clean.  If they backup, water can get into the home and the basement.

Drip edge flashing and gutters

Drip Edge Flashing and Gutters

Install drip edge flashing at the edges of the roof so it controls the water. It keeps the water away from the fascia and protects the areas that are underneath and the shingles from damage. It also seals in any gaps that there may be and also helps with keeping animals out like the eaves.

Add gutters to eaves so they can help in keeping the water away from the home. Unfortunately, water and mud can be kicked up and thrown on the sides of the home. The gutters can help funnel it off the roof and help keep the ground from eroding.


Eaves are important to keep the elements out of the home and for decoration purposes.  They do require maintenance to keep animals out.  If you have questions about your eaves, soffits, or fascia, contact us at Alpha Building Inspections and we can help.  Feel free to drop us a line below and tell us about your eaves!