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What Should I Look for When Inspecting the Attic?

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Do you know what to look for when inspecting your attic? Attics are an extension of your home and require regular maintenance. The condition of your attic affects not only the items housed in it but the structure of your home. Therefore, it is important to inspect your attic at least twice a year to control moisture and heat, which can cause damage. Furthermore, controlling moisture and heat within your attic helps to improve the health of your home. It is important to know what to look for when inspecting your attic and how to maintain a healthy attic to ensure a healthy home.

Generally, the best time to complete an inspection is in the summer months and in the winter months. Attic moisture is typically an issue in the winter and not in the warm summer months. The attic is hot in the summer and warm air can hold more moisture than cold air, so it is not likely to condense. However, the opposite is true of moisture in the colder months.

Winter Attic Inspection

Moisture is a more common issue in the attic during the winter and can lead to damage if not properly controlled and addressed. The attic is a warm and moist space that is vulnerable to moisture infiltration from the living space. Moisture in the attic generally begins with moisture in the living space. Due to the stack effect, warm moist air from the living space rises and infiltrates the attic space. All your daily activities such as showering, cooking, and laundry create moisture. This moisture can escape into the attic and settle in the attic space if not properly vented out. Furthermore, kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans are often improperly vented into the attic which can further the moisture issue. These exhaust fans should be vented to the outside to prevent the moist air from exhausting into your attic space. 

Moisture leaves visual clues in the attic, so an inspection of your space is very effective. Whether you hire a professional or inspect the attic yourself, there are several items you should inspect and indicators that there may be a moisture issue.

Look for the following to alert you to possible moisture issues:

  • Condition of the insulation
  • Gaps between the living space and attic that should be sealed
  • Lack of proper ventilation
  • Water droplets or frost on the attic roof decking
  • Rusted or wet nails
  • Water stains indicating previous condensation
  • Visible mold or fungal growth
  • Signs of any wood rot or decay
  • Wood sap on beams known as ambering
  • Pests such as carpenter ants or termites

Seal, Insulate and Ventilate

To reduce the amount of moisture entering your attic, proper sealing, insulating and ventilation is necessary. Air from the living space can enter the attic through gaps and cracks between the two spaces. Once the warm air reaches a cold roof deck or attic surface, it can quickly condense. This moisture may be seen as widespread water droplets or possibly frost if the attic roof decking is cold. Any parts of the roof that have melted snow may be an indicator that the warm air inside of the attic is causing the melting. The area that has melting is a good place to start looking for possible breakdowns in the barrier between the living and attic space.

Ice Dams

Furthermore, a breakdown in the barrier between the living and attic space can lead to ice dams. This is usually an issue in northern climates where snow may sit on a roof for longer periods of time. If you live in this area, one indicator of this potential problem is icicles hanging from the gutters. This is due to the melting of snow or ice on the roof running down to the gutters and refreezing. You can read more on ice dams and the mitigation of ice dams with ATMOX.

Proper attic ventilation prevents moist air from being trapped in the attic and condensing on any cold surface. The condensation becomes a problem if it sits too long because it can lead to mold. Proper ventilation will move the stagnant moist air out and help prevent condensation which can lead to mold growth.

Summer Attic Inspection

Attic moisture typically is not an issue in a hot attic in the summer. However, the exception to this may be a roof leak. Attic heat may not be visible, but it can certainly be felt. On a hot day, the temperature can actually reach 150˚ F inside the attic! The attic heat is costly and not energy efficient. Heat that is not properly ventilated may lead to heat buildup within the space. This heat can affect not only the attic and mechanical equipment housed in it, but also the living space and potentially the roof. 

Heat may be harder to detect without a thermometer reading, however, there are indicators that your heat may be causing energy efficiency issues. What should you look for when inspecting your attic during the summer?

warm weather

Summer Checklist:

  • Gaps between the living space and attic that should be sealed
  • Degraded insulation
  • Lack of proper ventilation
  • AC housed in attic is constantly running and struggles to keep up
  • Breakdowns of mechanical equipment in attic
  • Roof deterioration
  • Damage to items stored in the attic

Heat in the Attic

ATMOX Attic Ventilation

When inspecting an attic during the summer, begin with ensuring proper ventilation and insulation are in place. Additionally, check for gaps or cracks between the living space and attic. Proper sealing, insulating, and ventilating are important in creating a barrier between the living area and attic. This barrier is important to ensure the living space remains comfortable and not hot.

Check the condition of the insulation. Furthermore, insulation should not block any soffit vents. This sometimes happens during installation of insulation. The soffits must be open and not blocked to ensure adequate intake air is available. Air must be exchanged quickly enough to prevent heat buildup. Excessive heat can also transfer heat to the home’s structure. This heat creates a heavier workload on your HVAC system as it tries to keep up. Furthermore, a heavy workload is not only inefficient but can result in a decreased life expectancy of the unit itself.

What Should I Look for When Inspecting My Attic?

Inspecting your attic regularly is an important part of maintaining a healthy home. Moisture and heat can both cause damage to your attic and the structure of your home, so it is important to identify and address these issues. Inspecting your attic at least twice a year, in the summer and winter months, can help to ensure that your attic is properly sealed, insulated, and ventilated. This barrier helps to improve energy efficiency of your home and control moisture and heat exchange between the living and attic spaces. Ventilation keeps air from becoming stagnant in your attic. Stagnant air can lead to heat and moisture buildup. ATMOX brings fresh air into your attic space and exchanges the air to remove heat and moisture.

Regular attic inspections allow you to address heat and moisture issues and improve your attic’s condition. If you are unsure about how to inspect your attic or how to address any issues you find, it is always a good idea to consult with a professional. A professional can help you to identify any problems and recommend the best course of action to address them. With regular inspections and maintenance, you can help to ensure that your attic remains a healthy and functional part of your home for years to come.

Servicing Attic Controllers

Post Author: ATMOX TOM