What is there to check in an attic? It’s just trusses and insulation, right? Actually, it’s surprising how many attic problems I find during home inspections. The most important item is roof leaks. Sometimes the roof looks fine from above and it’s only when you get inside the attic that you can see the leak.
Another attic problem I have been seeing a bit of lately is leaking air conditioning ducts. Instead of all that cool air going into the house it is going into the attic! Not only does this lead to the air conditioner working harder and higher electric bills, the cold air causes condensation which leads to mold. Sometimes, it is just a little mold on the duct in the attic, but when it is really bad, the condensation drips onto the ceiling and you end up with mold on your ceiling.
The most common attic problem, and one easily fixed, is insulation blocking the vents. Insulation is put up there to keep the house cool but when it is not installed properly it is also keeping your attic hot – a little counterproductive! An attic in the afternoon in the summer can be 120 to 140 degrees and some even hotter. Still, some argue that it does not make that great a difference – that may be true if the attic is really well isolated from the rooms below. If you have downlights, for instance, you may have a lot of superheated air being pushed inside your home.
One attic problem concern that I don’t think anyone will argue about is termites and rodents !
One last attic problem that I have sometimes found in attics is a plumbing problem, especially in villas. This problem is polybutylene pipes. Polybutylene pipes were used extensively from the mid-70s to the early 1990s in many areas, including Sunrise, Tamarac, Coral Springs and Margate. It corrodes from the inside so you can’t tell from looking at how long it will last. It can be very expensive to replace, so, if you have polybutylene pipes make sure that it is covered in your insurance policy!
The lesson to be learned here is to make sure that you choose a home inspector who does more than stand on a ladder at the attic entrance. Unless it is an attic that is only 2 or 3 feet high and blocked by a.c. ducts, inspectors need to get inside the attic to make sure there are no problems there.