An attic inspection is one of the most important aspects of the home inspection, and something that should be familiar to a home owner. An attic can tell stories above and beyond its primary use, that being as an unused area between roof and living space. An attic can provide clues to the history of the home, and indicate problems unseen in other areas of the house that have not been disclosed by the home-owner. Among the things that the attic can disclose:
Truss / Rafter damage
Framing issues can be difficult to spot with interior and exterior wall finishings. Even on the roof, it can be difficult to see if the rafters or trusses are compromised. In the attic, most of the the framing is visible, and broken framing members will be apparent. An inspection would disclose cracked, twisted, unattached or broken pieces that affect the integrity of the framing, and are not disclosed, or not known to the current occupant.
Inadequate Attic Insulation
Properly insulated attics can cut down on your heating costs in the winter and cooling expenses in the summer. Energy loss can generally be traced to insulation levels. Attics can be insulated in many ways, including blown-in cellulose insulation, rigid expanded or extruded polystyrene boards, vermiculite or number, typically the higher the insulating factor. Installation of the different types of insulation can be an issue if not done correctly, such as lack of air flow, gaps in insulation, or uneven blanket.
Water flows from the top down and rarely enters a home sideways. Experienced inspectors will look for staining on the wood supports or on the walls which would provide evidence that water had leaked or is leaking through the roof somewhere. Condensation can form around uninsulated pipes, which can cause wood to rot. Sometimes furnaces are located in attic space. Check to see that no metal has rusted around the furnace.
Vermin, wildlife damage
Squirrels, raccoons, mice, birds, bees/wasps, can all be found living in an attic. It is important to eradicate these problematic attic dwellers. They can chew through wires, leave droppings everywhere, get into the home, cause fires, create an unhealthy environment or otherwise cause misery to a home owner. An attic inspection will uncover the issues and let you know what needs to be done.
Previous Fire Damage
If the wood is black, scorched and sooty, that’s almost a sure sign it had been affected by smoke and fire in the past. If the wood is painted white, it could be an indication that the smoke and fire damage was covered up to eliminate the smell and visual damage.
Of course, one cannot inspect the interior of the chimney from the attic, but an inspector can note whether the structure itself is solid within the attic. That portion of the chimney that is not exposed to the elements can also weather and deteriorate, and this especially holds true for older homes. Inspectors will look for cracks in the bricks and whether the mortar has crumbled. It’s not unusual to discover a chimney in the attic but no sign of a fireplace inside the home because it has been condemned and built over, or walled-in.
Attic inspection can reveal such problems as dangerous exposed lighting/wiring, improper air-flow through the attic, which is necessary to maintain proper venting. Some older types of insulation can be indicative of other issues, such as asbestos content, which is an altogether different problem.