Tag Archives: attic

VIDEO: OLD Oil Lines in Attic, Possible Old Underground Oil Tank Too?

I discovered what appear to be abandoned oil supply and return lines in the attic of a recent home inspection in Anacortes on Fidalgo Island. This suggests there was an oil fired appliance in the home, historically, likely an oil furnace, subsequently removed. Typically, when oil tanks and appliances are removed, so too are the oil supply and return lines. In this case, while I didn’t see any visible evidence of an underground historic oil tank on the property- originally constructed in 1957- I recommended verifying that the previous oil tank had been properly removed and/or decommissioned. Decommissioning oil tanks, especially if underground storage tanks, can be costly, so it was important to follow up on this detail for my clients.

Water intrusion in attics

One of the reasons it’s important to inspect attics is to look for signs of water intrusion.  Here you can clearly see water intrusion from a roof leak in the attic.  Nothing was (yet) presenting at the interior finishes within the home, but it’s a matter of time before the roof leak worsens and leads to roof structural damage and leaks to the interior.  I always advise my inspection clients to have someone take a peek into their attic and crawl space on an annual basis looking for signs of water intrusion; if you find it sooner than later, the repairs are much less expensive.  Water is the enemy to homes in the Pacific Northwest!  This was discovered at a recent home inspection in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island.

Bathroom vent FAIL

Close, but not close enough!  Bathroom vent ducting shouldn’t discharge into the attic.  Instead, it needs to be routed all the way to the exterior to help prevent elevated moisture conditions in the attic area that can lead to mold growth.  I also recommend insulating vent ducting in the unconditioned (unheated) attic area to help prevent condensation within the ducting itself.  This was discovered at a recent home inspection in Anacortes on Fidalgo Island.

Handyman Roof Rafters in Attic

Handyman framing practices, rafters heavily shimmed at their bases, was noted in the attic of a recent home inspection in Anacortes on Fidalgo Island. While there weren’t any visible issues presenting within the home at the time of inspection, this really should be corrected by a qualified framing contractor to ensure the roof’s structural integrity is maintained over time.

Video: BURIED Old Knob-and-Tube Electrical Wiring (Major Safety Issue!)

At a recent home inspection this week in Anacortes on Fidalgo Island I discovered, to my complete and utter dismay, original (old) knob-and-tube electrical wiring in an attic BURIED underneath fiberglass insulation and in direct contact with framing members, clear and well known safety issues. It’s imperative to maintain proper clearances around this old wiring as it can overheat causing a possible fire. Please don’t insulate your attic if you have old knob-and-tube wiring! The insulation looked professionally installed, which is why I was completely baffled to see such an egregious, irresponsible apparent contractor oversight. The insulation will need to be removed and proper clearance around all old, original knob-and-tube wiring provided for safety reasons. Better yet, upgrade the old wiring and be done with it!

Evidence of bird activity

 

Evidence of bird activity was noted in an attic of a recent home inspection on Lopez Island in the San Juan Islands.  When you see feathers in your attic area, you likely have a soffit vent that isn’t properly screened, or the screen has become damaged allowing birds, and possibly vermin, into your attic area.  I recommend taking a peek into your attic annually to look for obvious signs of birds, vermin or mold.  In this way, you can deal with the issue before it becomes more significant.  Bird feces running down the exterior siding of a home may also suggest they’re getting into the attic, and the soffit vent location that likely needs to be re-screened with mesh screening.  Don’t just block it off, it’s important to keep the attic well ventilated as blocking the soffit vents can lead to mold growth in the attic area.

Attic insulation upgrade issues

We all want our homes to be more energy efficient.  And, with attractive rebate incentives from local utility providers to improve attic insulation, there’s little reason to not jump on board.  In fact, priority #1 should be to air seal and insulate the attic.  Why?  Because hot air rises.  You want to keep it in the house.

A few issues I commonly run into when inspecting older homes that have recently installed attic insulation are concerning.  The most common is for insulation to be blown in around everything, including furnace flues.  Clearance requirements vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but at least one (1) inch, free-and-clear, is required of all.  Insulation in contact with the chimney flue is a safety hazard and is all too commonly discovered.  The second issue I discover is blown-in insulation completely restricting the roof’s soffit vents.  By restricting attic ventilation, you run the risk of elevated moisture and humidity in the attic area.  This can lead to moisture and insect related issues, together with the real possibility of structural problems down the line.  The insulation contractor should install baffles (typically card board or styrofoam), designed to keep insulation away from the underlying soffit vents, and allow for free and unrestricted ventilation of the roof system.

So, yes, please have your attics insulated and brought up to prescriptive levels (typically R38).  But, ensure that your contractor does it right and keeps your home safe.  The simple installation of a sheet metal protective shroud around the chimney flues and soffit baffles will keep your home safe and properly functioning.  Plus, you’ll enjoy substantially reduced heating bills from the increased insulation!

Mold in Attics . . . Why Should I Care and What to Do About It?

It’s true, mold in attics rarely affects the indoor air quality in homes, so what’s the big deal?  Why is it a reportable issue, why does it scare homeowners and what can be done about it?  This is a common issue for homes in the Pacific Northwest, so I wanted to take a moment to address it because there’s also a lot of hype and misinformation out there about mold. Continue reading

Energy efficiency: Attic insulation upgrade issues

We all want our homes to be more energy efficient.  And, with attractive rebate incentives from local utility providers to improve attic insulation, there’s little reason to not jump on board.  In fact, priority #1 should be to air seal and insulate the attic.  Why?  Because hot air rises.  You want to keep it in the house.

A few issues I commonly run into when inspecting older homes that have recently installed attic insulation are concerning.  The most common is for insulation to be blown in around everything, including furnace flues.  Clearance requirements vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but at least one (1) inch, free-and-clear, is required of all.  Insulation in contact with the chimney flue is a safety hazard and is all too commonly discovered.  The second issue I discover is blown-in insulation completely restricting the roof’s soffit vents.  By restricting attic ventilation, you run the risk of elevated moisture and humidity in the attic area.  This can lead to moisture and insect related issues, together with the real possibility of structural problems down the line.  The insulation contractor should install baffles (typically card board or styrofoam), designed to keep insulation away from the underlying soffit vents, and allow for free and unrestricted ventilation of the roof system.

So, yes, please have your attics insulated and brought up to prescriptive levels (typically R38).  But, ensure that your contractor does it right and keeps your home safe.  The simple installation of a sheet metal protective shroud around the chimney flues and soffit baffles will keep your home safe and properly functioning.  Plus, you’ll enjoy substantially reduced heating bills from the increased insulation!