A vented rainscreen — an air gap behind the siding — has become a standard detail in many new houses. It helps remove moisture that works its way through the siding, and in the process helps siding last longer. It’s the “vented” part of this equation that has Gerald Pehl thinking.
“I’ve got an assembly design for a vented rainscreen, and it will be held continuous to the soffit spaces, which then vent through to the attic ridge vent via conventional vent chutes between the rafters,” Pehl says in a comment posted in the Q&A forum at GBA.
His question, and the start of this Q&A Spotlight, is whether this plan eliminates the need for additional soffit venting. Pehl’s building inspector has left the decision up to him.
Risks in the event of a fire
Malcolm Taylor suggests that connecting the rainscreen and attic ventilation might increase the drying potential of the wall assembly. He points out, however, that a rainscreen is typically 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch deep, a function of what material is used to create it, and that probably isn’t enough to make up the required area for soffit vents. Even if it did, he adds, that detail raises another issue: What happens in the event of a fire?
“Here in Canada,” Taylor writes, “we can’t connect the two to find out. The code precludes it because it creates a concealed air space from which fire can spread up into the roof assembly. Practically, I wonder how much difference there is from a fire spread point of view between a connected rainscreen, and one which is vented at the top with soffit vents immediately above. I’ll be interested to see what other posters think.”
GBA senior editor Martin Holladay…