Why do home inspectors have to look in the attic? What can you see up there?
Good question. A professional home inspector will always include the attic inspection as part of the complete inspection because attics “tell” the history of the home. Attic inspections include the structural members, chimney chase, vents, ventilation, insulation, vapor barrier and exhaust venting. The attic is also examined for water penetration or condensation and the electrical system is checked out.

The inspection of structural members such as trusses or rafters can reveal both past, present, and future problems. I have found trusses that were sawn in half to accommodate a whole house fan, or a vent pipe. Over a period of time, this condition will cause the roof to sag and eventually leak. I’ve seen shoddy rafter repair work after “undisclosed” fire damage. The homemade repair involved nailing 2×6’s onto the charred rafters. This compromised the attic area strength and the rafter’s ability to carry the weight of the roof. Proper repair should have included complete removal and replacement of affected rafters. Rafters cannot be seen except in the attic.

The chimney chase is observed for any signs of leaking at the point of roof penetration. A masonry chimney must be checked for missing or cracked mortar that could allow carbon monoxide gasses to escape into the living spaces. Metal chimneys need a two-inch clearance from the wood components of the house to provide a heat barrier and prevent fires. Many homeowners assume their home was built “to code.” The truth is, many homes were built years ago, before “codes” and “inspections” were the norm.

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