Q54: Is there sufficient insulation installed in the attic?
When you peek into the attic space insulation is going to be a major factor to think about. Insulation is rated by it’s R-value. In other words, the R-Value is the measure of the insulation’s ability to resist heat flow- the higher the R-Value, the better the “thermal performance” of the insulation – you’re trying to keep that warm air INSIDE the house in the cold winter months and hot attic air from transferring to the lower floors during the heat of summer. In most attics, the R-Value should be about R-38 which translates to about 10-14 inches of insulation depending on the type of material.
If there is no insulation or minimal insulation in the attic, you’re going to want to take the cost to insulate the space into consideration if you decide that this is the house for you. Take the basic square footage of the attic space and make a stop at your local home improvement store to calculate an estimate of the cost. Once you’ve estimated the cost, talk to both your professional Home Inspector and Realtor to decide how to make the accommodation for your offer.
Q55: Is there adequate ventilation? Is there a clear path for the air to circulate through soffit vents and gable ends?
It may seem a bit strange that just a moment ago you were asked to look at how much insulation was in the attic in order to keep warmth in the right places AND NOW you’re being asked to see if there is air flow (yes, and sometimes it may be OLD air) in the attic.
Here’s the explanation to alleviate the confusion: In the winter, having some cold air flowing through rafter vents and soffits allows the air to remain cooler which in turn inhibits the freezing and thawing affect that could cause ice damming in the gutters and as a result, damage to the roof if there was warm air floating around the space. In the hot summer, the flow of the hot air actually protects the roof shingles and removes moisture while also preventing transfer of the heat to the home below.
When you’re inspecting the attic, make sure you can see the light from those soffit vents – if you can’t, then the insulation is probably right up to the roof trusses. If you noticed any other issues on the outside of the house (curled shingles, rotting soffits on the house eaves, etc) you will need to discuss the entire issue with the professional Home Inspector. If you feel the attic only requires additional insulation, then get a recommendation for a contractor and/or make a is it to your local home improvement store – but always make proper ventilation in the attic space a consideration in your decision before you put a purchase offer in.
Q56: Do exhaust or appliance vents fully exit the attic?
Once you’re IN the attic, you want to notice if the bathroom vent actually goes straight up through the attic and out of the house. If the bathroom fan vents only INTO the attic, you have a problem waiting to happen. The bathroom air is moist and will eventually cause condensation and eventually mold in the attic, within the insulation, the roof trusses and even cause problems for the roof decking.
You absolutely will want to correct any issue you might see here because it could lead to something more. Additionally, if you decided you were going to put forth a purchase offer on this property, inquire with your professional Home Inspector concerning what you spotted.
Q57: Are all electrical wires secured so they do not present a hazard (no hanging splices)?
While we don’t claim to be electricians, we can tell you that when electrical wires are spliced, they require special handling to avoid problems. So what is a splice? A wire splice is where two wires are connected together. Usually a wire “nut” is used to ensure that the connection enables constant flow of the electricity – however, those wire nuts and splices are supposed to be placed inside of a covered box so that IF they become overloaded or loose, they don’t get heated or spark causing a fire.
This is a job that should be addressed by a licensed electrician as quickly as possible. Don’t be surprised if your professional Home Inspector recommends that you make correction of this issue a condition of the final purchase – at the very least, talk to your Realtor about the best way to handle this issue if this is the property you decide to call home.