For most homes, an attic is a place for storage. But what if that space can also, if left to its own accord, be a determent to the rest of the home? Experts claim that routine inspections and maintenance at least once per season are needed to ensure the spaces’ longevity and safety, as being the closest thing to the roof and a barrier between it and the rest of the house can quickly pose danger if certain things go unnoticed. This article will offer tips and suggestions to create a routine of simple yet necessary checks of a home’s attic space.
Creaks and Cracks
A homeowner should first enter an attic in the daylight. During the day, look for streams of light through cracks and crevices, taking time to fill such holes as necessary. Caused by elements (high winds for instance), or even the age and building materials of the home itself, any lesions or cracks can lead to bigger issues down the road as moisture and non-temperature controlled air can run rampant in the unregulated space. Further, this check-up is imperative as such occurrences can too be symptoms of issues elsewhere in the home such as foundation and structural issues, stress and deterioration of load-baring walls, even decay of wood and fabrication materials in the attic itself.
Using a flashlight, one should carefully inspect the ceiling for any sign of moisture and leakage. Looking for residue, investigate the boards, rafters, nails, adhesive materials, and corners and edges of elements (vents, pipes, chimneys, etc.). The residue would be an excess of moisture and water in the space, which can cause the growth of mold.
Fans and Vents
Are there whole house fans stationed in your attic space? Inspect the belt and blades of each fan, looking for dry rot which can be present thanks to the extreme temperature changes and often high levels of moisture mentioned above. Ensuring fans are in good working order can save time, money, and hassle when cooling an excessively warm house.
The seriousness of inspecting attic vents mainly lies in when the house itself was built. Some older homes vent air from bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry areas directly into the attic. However, when not directly pumped outside it can add to additional condensation and mold or fungus growth. If moving the final destination of said airflow isn’t an option, one should simply take greater vigilance in inspecting such areas and cleaning them when needed.
The last element to any attic maintenance inspection routine is to look for signs of bugs and critters that have taken a liking to the unoccupied dry space. I have seen birds, mice, even bats living rent-free in such spaces, and they tend to have the innate ability to expand to less considerate areas of a home if not taken care of. One should look for droppings as a main sign of their inhabitancy.
Insulation in unfinished attics should be level with the floorboards and joists. Any more or less than this amount is said to drastically change the effectiveness of a home’s heating and cooling system. If you are fortunate enough to have a completed attic space, remove an electric outlet to check levels with the use of a flashlight or tape measure, gently prodding what is inside to ensure the insulation's presence. While set amounts vary depending on wall depth and climate, the insulation should be visually present upon the removal of the outlet, sometimes even falling out a bit. Please note: when performing this inspection one MUST ensure any electric charge has been disbanded before proceeding.