Attic’s are a very important part of our homes, however people tend to ignore them until they have no choice but to inspect them. Come the spring thaw, when your roof begins leaking, damaging drywall, paint, and furniture, it is too late for a preventative inspection.
Attics are a buffer in two very important ways. The attic is NOT heated. In fact, outside air should circulate freely within an attic for proper circulation. This does the important job of keeping moisture levels down, which is the second way an attic acts as a buffer. Every attic should have vents to permit air flow. Most of these vents are in the eaves, and in many cases they are assisted with a “whirly bird” attic vent on the roof itself. A dry, cool attic is a functional part of every house.
A dry attic should not have a pest problem, however a warm, moist attic is a recipe for not only mold and mildew, but insects and rodents can thrive. The other common pests are birds and bats which can enter very small holes to nest. It is a good idea to have all vents screened to prevent this problem.
Rodents can be particularly harmful in an attic. They can gain access to much of your home, their urine smells and will permeate through the ceiling, and they can damage everything from electrical wiring to vapor barriers.
When inspecting your attic, pay special attention to the wooden structure of the roof itself. Watch for variations in the coloring to look for possible breaches in the exterior water proof membrane. This is most common around chimneys and plumbing vents. As well, on the bottom 3 or 4 feet of the roof above the eaves, and in valleys where 2 roofing surfaces meet are critical areas. Cycles of freezing and thawing found in the spring can sometime cause water to flow UP, underneath the shingles or tile, and leak into the attic.
Check the seal of your attic hatch using a candle. Light it, and then blow it out so it will smoke. Run the candle around the perimeter of the hatch to see if the smoke is drawn in, or blown out. If either occurs, add a strip of foam weather seal to the hatch.
Check for the storage of chemicals. Do the containers have labels? Are they out of reach of small children? Are the products still effective, or have they expired?