Attic Inspection

Hi to all,
I ran across something interesting on a inspection today. While trying to inspect the attic, I opened up the access door and there were about 15 electrical cables blocking the entrance to the attic. This was to include the service cable, and the washer and dryer cables that were tight and could not be moved out of the way preventing the inspection of the attic. I called this out to the buyers of the home and they said that the previous inspector of the seller **DID NOT **see a problem with the cables blocking the entrance to the attic. They said he was about 6 ft. and 150 lbs. and had no problem getting into the attic. As stated, I did call this out and did not inspect the attic. What is your opinion on the entrance being blocked and not inspecting it.

Russell Britton
Britton Home Inspection

Was there enough reasonable room to get by anyway? Unless somebody exited some other way the cable installer got out the same access door regardless. Still, it sounds like you’re covered.

I could not access the entrance without moving the cables out of the way. Also with the cables not having any slack in them it prevented them from being moved. As far as the cable installer getting out. I would have much rather climbed in or out before the power was put to these wires. I was just curious if there was a code for blocking the entrance to the attic.

Russell Britton

Did the access look like it was cut in after the house was done?
That is usually why they end up that way. The guy cutting the hole was cutting blind. I would look over the cables to be sure if they didn’t get dinged.

[quote=Greg Fretwell]
Did the access look like it was cut in after the house was done?
That is usually why they end up that way. The guy cutting the hole was
cutting blind. I would look over the cables to be sure if they didn’t get dinged

That definitely looks like that is a possibility. I did not look over the cables for nicks.

Russell Britton

This may have been posted here before but its a good reminder on attic access issues.


2003 IRC:

There will also be references to proper running of electrical cabling and this is an obvious safety hazard! I would immediately disclaim the attic without attempting to enter it. You may not be able to tell what can occur by trying to move these cables, especially the Service Entrance cables!! It will be a very nice way of telling the buyer that they will need to have new access arrangement to the attic or the more costly route of moving the cables.

Hi to all,

There are also protection requirements for cables adjacent to attic openings under NEC/IRC,

here is the IRC rule



It should be noted that most attics are not really rated for storage in the first place. The bottom chords of engineered trusses are only designed to carry the ceiling, typically a couple pounds per square foot. Interior walls will tend to stiffen this up so people do get away with it but it is not in the engineering. Be especially careful when you are storing things in areas with wide spans between walls. It probably won’t come crashing down but you can crack the ceiling sheetrock.

Advised that my client get a copy of the engineers stamped drawing allowing the a/c attachment. The builder called me direct and to me to go f—off. Guess their was no approved drawing.
Yes I know this is minor but this builder is clueless, new contruction inspection 3 pages on summary.


Do you really think a stamped engineers drawing is necessary for such an installation? I think that is kind of an unrealistic request.

I don’t think that it is unrealistic…good call. The a/c unit ductwork does not appear to be fire-stopped at the ceiling penetrations. There are probably other fire wall issues as well, i.e. no self closing hinges on the door, the pull down stairs in the ceiling, etc.

And on and on and on for 3 pages. The roof was the worst that I had ever seen. Hey, the clients don’t know and don’t know to ask. It’s our job to pass on the info. IMHO:D
Happy Inspecting.

I should tell the A/C installers I know then.
I have never, ever seen, nor heard of, an engineers drawing for a central air install.

If you read post # 9, this was a truss load issue relating back to storage( yes it’s minor), not an Engineer needs to sign off on A/C issue.

Actually this thread had to do with scuttle hole access clearances. Greg’s 10:58 am post took it in another direction, i.e. the truss loading issue. What am I missing?

You are covered Russell. You did not inspect it and stated your valid reasons for not doing so - which is exactly what you should have done.

The issue is not whether someone else managed to squeeze past the cables and lived to tell the tale - you felt it was unsafe to do so and stated as much. Where you would be in error would have been if you did not inspect the attic, but report that you did - which you did not do - so no harm no foul.

In any situation like this I take good photos and include them in my report.

Arne Larsen
West Coast Home Inspections Ltd.
Abbotsford, BC

my bad should be starting with #9 sorry.
regardless, Russell made a good call.

That is the way everyone installs air handlers in Florida. I can’t get anyone interested in the implications of fire protection (dampers etc) They point out the wall between the garage and house is not fire rated in a type 3R (IRC).
The only time it has to be fire rated is if there is dwelling space above the garage.
As for the truss loading, they usually require a horizontal member catching 4 or 5 truss chords on the all thread hangers (generally two 2x4x8s) but it may not actually happen

And with the pull down stairs there is never a firewall in the attic seperating the rest of the house from the garage.