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Top 5 Issues Missed by Home Inspectors – Issue #3

This is the third in a series of articles addressing the top 5 issues many inexperienced home inspectors overlook when inspecting homes in our area.  This week’s topic is “Inadequate Attic Ventilation.”


Issue #3 – Inadequate Attic Insulation

Even an inexperienced home inspector will find roofing leaks, but they may lack the experience or training to ensure a home has adequate ventilation.  Inadequate attic ventilation can result in higher-than-normal heating and cooling bills.  Inadequate ventilation can also cause excess moisture and heat in the attic, which can cause mold growth, rotting or warped wood and the roofing material not lasting as long as it should.

While an inexperienced home inspector may perform a quick visual inspection of the attic, an experienced home inspector will conduct a thorough inspection.   This inspection is designed to answer such questions as:

  • Is the intake ventilation restricted by insulation, minimizing its effectiveness?
  • Are air baffles installed properly, allowing sufficient intake air to enter the attic?
  • Is the ridge vent adequate for the amount of exhaust ventilation?
  • Is there a balance between air intake (at your eaves, soffits or fascias) and air exhaust (at or near the roof ridge)?
  • Are there signs of plywood buckling or mold growing in areas of the attic, indicating moisture or ventilation issues?
  • Are there signs of deteriorating shingles, caused by issues in the attic?

A number of roofing manufacturers offer easy-to-use calculators to help homeowners determine if they have adequate ventilation for the type of roofing installed!  Here’s a link to one:  GAF Calculator.

Many inexperienced home inspectors, believing that a home has inadequate attic ventilation, may recommend installing a “power vent” as the solution.  While this may appear to be a reasonable option, it can also create other issues that an experienced home inspector, knowledgeable about energy efficiency issues, will recognize.  A power vent can draw air from the conditioned area of the home, bringing heat into the attic in the winter and air conditioned air into the attic during the summer.  If the home is not well insulated or sealed, a power vent can result in significantly higher heating and cooling bills.  Keep in mind that even an experienced home home inspector may not fully understand energy efficiency issues, unless he or she has had extensive training.  An inspector who thoroughly understands these issues will be able to suggest solutions that will cost the homeowner less money and create a more energy efficient home!

Real world examples:  I have inspected attics with intake ventilation completely covered by insulation and ridge vents that were installed without even cutting away the plywood below to create an exhaust, making the ridge vent useless.  I have inspected roofs needing to be replaced after 8-10 years, when they would have lasted 20 years or more with proper attic ventilation.

Having performed over 20,000 inspections during my career, I have seen inadequate attic ventilation in hundreds of homes.  This is an issue that is clearly an epidemic in our area.

Before hiring a home inspector, take the time to ask how he or she inspects for adequate attic ventilation!  Ask questions and  check online reviews/testimonials.

You now have the knowledge to ask the right questions that will help you to determine if the home inspector you are considering is experienced or lacks the training and expertise. you truly need!

If you have any questions or need to schedule an inspection, contact Housebusters!

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