Should I be concerned about dirt around soffit vents?

No.  You should count yourself among the lucky ones.

Here’s why:

Your house needs to breathe, and more accurately, in the cases of soffit, your roof needs to breathe.  A roof is supposed to breathe in from the soffit, and breathe out from the exhaust vents.

The same air we breathe has dust in it.  That dusty air gets drawn up through the soffits and out through the exhaust vents in your roof.  Consequently, if you have a traditional pod (sometimes called turtle) vent in your attic, you are likely to have dust or discoloration on the roof just adjacent to where the hot air is exiting.

If that’s happening, your airflow is moving as designed.

There are a couple types of soffit vents.  One looks like a cheese grater and is a favorite of house flippers and homeowners who care more about price than they care about how how their house will look.  The other type is a hidden vent system which can actually let more air in, improve your ventilation, and has the vents hidden within the panels.  So if it gets dusty, it doesn’t matter because it’s in a shadow line and no one will ever see it.

Strangely enough, I once had a customer concerned about this dust that they will never see.  The answer is simple — it will never adversely affect the ventilation of your house, will improve the health of your house and extend the life of your roof.  Those vents may even help to lower your energy bills as you won’t have to pay as much to cool the place in the summer.

Jim McGuigan is a ventilation certified contractor serving Southeastern Wisconsin.

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