Learn some basics of your attic, what those components are designed for, and how you can best care for your attic.
Attics are dangerous places. They are confined with difficult egress if an emergency would occur, they are accessed with ladders which are inherently dangerous, construction materials are not covered with protective finishes, stray nails, assorted loose insulation, the possibility of damaging the ceiling below, possible pests and the list goes on. My point here is that attics are not for storage, they should not be modified without a structural engineer's approval, and there is almost no reason for homeowners to be in attics often. That being said: every home is different, some attics may be designed as loft storage with finished walls and flooring, some may have HVAC or other equipment that requires regular maintenance, or other factors can change the recommendation. But those situations will be accounted for in the design of the attic space.
The most important thing a hands-on homeowner can do is to take advantage of opportunities when they choose to take that risk and open the hatch. Use those times to review the condition of your attic. Are there signs of moisture damage, condensation, organic growth, or other red flags that need to be addressed by a contractor? Do you suspect invasive pests like bees, wasps, birds, or even raccoons that need to be handled by a pro? Is the appropriate ventilation still operating as it was designed? Do disturbances in insulation allow hot, humid air to condense on interior ceilings - or just lose efficiency of your interior HVAC system?
We do not recommend typical homeowners access their attic for any reason, but if you do: These quick tips can help you keep an eye on your home's performance. They are just a few items on our inspection list. There are many factors in deciding whether an attic is accessible, safe to the inspector, or if entering may cause property damage. Whenever possible, we work to access confined spaces because those are the places things can go most wrong. Of course, health and safety always win out! Things change over time, so an annual home maintenance checkup from Top Notch Inspection Services will help monitor those changes and catch problems for correction sooner than later.
Too long, didn’t read version: Attics are not typically intended for storage or regular access. Entering them can be unhealthy or may cause property damage. We recommend an attic be inspected along with the whole home at every real estate sale, whenever changes are made, and with annual home maintenance checkups.
-Marshall Tramp, CPI, RMP
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