Attic Inspections

How far in does an Inspector really go?

I use bright lights and a good camera that has infra red focus and adjusts the flash to provide the light to take the photo. In this cold climate the attic ventilation is critical. I look for condensation or water stains, signs of mould or rot, insulation, vent pipes etc. No body installs equipment in the attic in this part of the world.
I do not enter the attic.

Every single bit of it I can safely get to! You can learn a lot about the home in an area that is unfinished!!

How far do you go Brian?

When I first started I would go in all the way. I now go as far as the equipment deck. Many of the homes here have 12 to 15 inches of insulation, plastic water pipes, sprinkler pipes, HVAC duct, alarm wires, electrical wires, and can lights buried in the insulation. I do not want to damage any of that stuff, not to mention going through the ceiling. 1,000,000/cp rechargeable cheapo light does the trick.:slight_smile:


New homes are the same 15"+. That is why I qualified my statement with “safely”.

If I can not see the ceiling joists, or insualtion is to deep to chance, I won’t walk it. I also won’t walk any area with decking that is not properly secured or of significant size spanning several joists. I always carry a pair of binoculars in the attic with me and the camera has a good telephoto on it.

Seen enough instances of handyman work in attics, and to not perform a full inspection, if possible, could overlook serious issues.

That’s a good question Brian. Normally with all the hazards that you noted I do as you do, but a couple of weeks ago I ran into a 2006 Pulte that has a sealed attic.

There is no insulation on the floor and the ceiling (attic floor) consists of 3 layers of 5/8" sheetrock. The insulation is in the rafters and held in place by mesh stapled at every rafter and about every 6-12" down to the eve. There is also the same insulation set up at the gable ends. This was a true joy to inspect as everything was visible. When I was done I went down to the Suppers shack and talked with her for quite awhile about this new thing (to me anyway) they are doing. She said that the attic space temp will not vary more than 5-10 degrees from the interior temp of the home and that summer time bills have been from 50-75% less than with conventional building practices.

I don’t think this would work to well anywhere but the driest and hottest of areas, but for here I think they may be on to something.


Let me gues Todd she asked you to dinner

I try (if safe) to inspect the entire perimeter. I have learned to walk (or crawl) the rafters.

There are too many things to check:

  • Ridge vent clogged.
  • Soffit vents open.
  • Exhaust vents taken outside.
  • Vapor barrier in place.
  • Roof decking and rafter moisture readings (multiple places).
  • Check for mold or rot (UV flashlight).
  • Chimney and/or steel vent flue firestopping.
  • Can light fixtures are sealed (around ceiling) and not covered with insulation or IL type.
  • Ceiling fans have properly type and secured boxes.
  • Rafter, collar tie, purlins not broken, improperly spliced.
  • Engineered trusses have not been modified.
    Miss one, you are in trouble. My clients are very demanding and I like to keep my repuation (and my hard earned money :mrgreen: )

Please note: This is just the way I do it. Not coming down on anyone else for their methods. We are all business owners and responsibile for ourselves.

Also, being conservative, I can be really anal with my work :mrgreen: .

Hope this helps;

Will, as tall as you are you probably can lay down and touch the other side

Ahhh. You have found my secret, Gary.

Same here as long as it is accessible

I believe the poll question should have included whether or not any ceiling joists or walkways were visible for use.

Many builders only toenail ceiling joists and they have no lateral support other than the toenails. These can twist and fall over real easy so keep that in mind on your next balancing act.

Really depends on the attic. If trusses and deep insulation, I only go farther if I see something that bothers me. Truss purlins are not designed to be walked on. Neither are the bottom chords, if you can see them. I also do not like to compress insulation. Older attics are generally easier to traverse due to lack of insulation, ceiling joists, decking etc. I nearly always traverse older attics.

If I can fit , I will go there. Sure it can be a balancing act in some instances but all it takes is that one time I didn’t try to view the whole attic and sure enough there is the problem I missed.

Louis Agudo

Question for Todd Allen. how did they secure (3) 5/8 drywall to the joist? It would be almost 2" thick. I’m not questioning you just wondering how.

I turn on the bathroom ventilators and try to find them in the insulation if possible. Probably 25% of the time, they have no ducts at all and are 100% covered by insulation. Ceiling moisture damage will result over time.


If you walk on 2 x 4 engineered trusses and make sure that you are over a support wall and step close to the webs, there is no problem.

As to the insulation, I usually walk the attic in ‘chinese slippers’, with flexible rubber (and insulated) soles and canvas sides. It is very easy to ‘feel’ your way along.

Also, get yourself a UV flashlight. I have found many attics that look OK from the scuttle hole, but when I shine the UV around, I get all sorts of light ups, usually from mold from water infiltation.

Better quality, you can charge more. :mrgreen:

I seldom get to see an attic I can get into.
Here in Canada most attic entrances are in the master closet .
Small opening full of clothes.
The Attic usually has 8 inches blown in cellulose insulation.
I get enough of the insulation falling on the cover I have used in the closet with out going into the attic.
I can see me bringing about a bushel of insulation down on my clothes . Trying to get out side to shake it off and the trail through the home .
I try and make sure I get a good look from the attic entrance but no way will I go all the way into the attic.
Roy Sr

Does anybody check temp? I check temp & RH outside, inside & the attic. Doug


Come on now, we know why you have a UV light, let loose! You bought it so you can use it on all those blacklight posters you hung onto from the 60’s! :smiley: :smiley: :smiley:

Actually I’ve been looking for one but have not found one worth buying yet. Most are very weak and you wind up having to get right up to the area to use it. Those that are comparable to even a mag lite burn through batteries so quick it would be difficult to use for long. Do you have a preference on a UV Light brand, model? Have you found different wavelengths better for one inspection task over another? Any other advice on the lights from your experience?