Tag Archives: attic

LOOKS LIKE THE TAPE MEASURER WAS BROKEN?

Almost there isn’t quite good enough for this ladder.

I recently discovered this unique version of an attic access hatch during a recent home inspection in Mount Vernon. The pull-down ladder in the garage was undersized and did not fully extend to the concrete slab below; furthermore, the pull-down ladder hatch did not close fully, which was a safety issue as the garage ceiling is considered a fire separation barrier between the garage and the home. 

In the home inspection, we have a very technical term for this: double trouble!

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‘BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE’: GREAT SONG, NOT A GOOD IDEA FOR YOUR HOUSE

It’s surprising how often I come across this issue when doing home inspections: metal flue pipes serving furnaces and water heaters that come in contact with roof sheathing and underlayment in the attic. When this occurs, it’s a very obvious safety issue.

This issue is especially common when roofs are replaced. Why? Contractors may neglect to appropriately cut back roofing materials during installation. 

If you want to make sure your home doesn’t inspire David Byrne to write another song about burning structures, you’d be well-served to provide 1-inch of clearance, free and clear, around the flue pipe at all times. And again, this is especially important if you have had your roof recently replaced.


Moldlike Growth in Attic

At a recent home inspection on Orcas Island, I discovered plywood sheathing in the attic that was stained with a mold-like growth. This typically, almost always, indicates an insufficient ventilation or elevated moisture issue within the attic. Vents could be restricted, vent ducts may be discharging into the attic, or the interface between the main home and attic may need to be better sealed. In any event, a contractor needs to first resolve the underlying cause of elevated moisture and make necessary repairs. The mold-like growth is then typically remediated with a mildicide and then painted with mildicide paint to encapsulate historic mold growth. I recommend tinting the paint TAN because white or black mold growth will be obvious if it returns (e.g., you’ll see it on tan paint). If the attic is forever tan, you know the issue has been addressed satisfactorily. Because most home buyers want this issue addressed prior to closing, and remediation can be expensive, I recommend peeking into your attic on an annual basis and dealing with any apparent mold-like growth sooner than later if noted.

VIDEO: Moldlike growth in attic!

At a recent home inspection in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, I discovered plywood sheathing in the attic that was stained with a mold-like growth. This typically, almost always, indicates an insufficient ventilation or elevated moisture issue within the attic. Vents could be restricted, vent ducts may be discharging into the attic, or the interface between the main home and attic may need to be better sealed. In any event, a contractor needs to first resolve the underlying cause of elevated moisture and make necessary repairs. The mold-like growth is then typically remediated with a mildicide and then painted with mildicide paint to encapsulate historic mold growth. I recommend tinting the paint TAN because white or black mold growth will be obvious if it returns (e.g., you’ll see it on tan paint). If the attic is forever tan, you know the issue has been addressed satisfactorily. Because most home buyers want this issue addressed prior to closing, and remediation can be expensive, I recommend peeking into your attic on an annual basis and dealing with any apparent mold-like growth sooner than later if noted.

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.