Why You Need a Home Attic Inspection

What happens in the attic doesn't always stay in the attic, and can impact your entire home. That's why it's time to consider a home attic inspection.

An attic, by definition, is the area between the roof and the ceiling or walls of the inhabited rooms in a home. While it may seem like just empty space, an attic can tell you a lot about the condition of a home and reveal problems that need attention. That’s why regular attic inspections are so important for the overall health of your home.

What Is an Attic Inspection?

An attic inspection takes a good, hard look at the elements under the roof, including the home’s ventilation, insulation and structure. It’s designed to catch any problems before they grow into something bigger. An attic inspection provides the homeowner with key information needed to fight high energy bills, mold, moisture and poor air quality.

In addition, an attic inspection can reveal things about the home’s history. Black or sooty wood, or even painted rafters, could indicate a previous fire in the home. Tunnels and wood shavings could point to a problem with wood-destroying insects. Brian Cooper, a certified home inspector and owner of Cooper Inspection Services, LLC, says you’ll also learn a lot about the condition of the roof, whether the home is properly ventilated, and its heating and cooling efficiency.

Unless caught early, issues that start in the attic could impact your entire home.

Should You Get a Service or DIY?

Having your attic inspected periodically can help you avoid costly repairs, and you don’t always need to call the professionals. Getting familiar with your attic and knowing how to identify potential problems on your own can help you stay ahead of any future issues. Cooper recommends inspecting your attic twice a year, ideally in the spring and fall when the seasons are changing.

“Some of the key and most obvious things you can look for on your own include black mold, mice droppings, water stains and making sure bathroom exhaust fans are not loose,” Cooper says.

When to Call an Attic Inspection Pro?

Cooper says you should hire a professional when you spot a problem that needs further inspection, if you’re thinking of buying or selling a home, or if you’re physically unable to inspect the attic yourself. At an average of $100 to $600, depending on the size of the home, a professional will give you the “most accurate assessment.” Cooper encourages his clients to shadow the inspector when possible and ask plenty of questions.

A more in-depth attic inspection will include observing things like air flow, measuring insulation and looking for proper ventilation. Whether you’re hiring a professional or doing it yourself, a thorough inspection of the attic will take around one hour and possibly longer.

Attic Inspection Checklist

Whether done by a homeowner or pro, these are the main items that should be addressed during an attic inspection:

  • Ventilation. Signs of poor ventilation include, mold, rusted nails and condensation.
  • Insulation. Your attic shouldn’t feel drafty, and insulation should be plentiful and complete.
  • Leaks. Water stains, rot and mold point to leaks.
  • Pests. Look for droppings, nests, leaves, acorns and damage to insulation.
  • Exhaust ducts and vent stacks. All exhaust ducts and vent stacks should continue through the roof to the outside.

When in doubt about anything you find in your DIY inspection, consult a pro. To help, read our detailed checklist, including a pro’s tips for DIY inspections.