If you’ve just bought a house, you need to follow our attic checklist to make sure everything is in order.
Let’s jump right in!
The most important appliance in your attic, and hopefully the only appliance in your attic, is your heat exchanger or furnace. If you’re like me, you have no idea if the heat exchanger or furnace is working properly or not. However, if you turn on your AC or heat and the wrong temperature comes out, it’s probably not working.
However, you can check the ductwork and flashing. Check your ductwork to see if there are any holes or rust on any of the duct. Most importantly, check where ducts connect to other ducts and the unit. The shiny duct tape looking stuff is flashing tape. In best of circumstances, you need to replace the flashing every 5-10 years. Double check yours when you move in.
Proper duct work and flashing will increase your unit’s efficiency.
Attics require ventilation. Otherwise, they get super hot and humid. While you’re in your attic, you should check to make sure your vents are open and not clogged with debris.
Non-insulated attics usually have loose fill insulation. Loose fill insulation is that white fluffy stuff on the floor of your attic. You should have 6-8 inches of this fluffy white stuff for optimal efficiency.
Use a ruler or tape measure to see how deep your insulation is. If you need more insulation, you can buy some at your local hardware store. If you need a lot of extra insulation, you can hire services that pump the extra insulation in through a tube.
While doing your inspection of your insulation, you should also be checking to see if there are signs of rodents, moisture, or mold. Since the insulation is supposed to be white and fluffy, it’s easy to notice when something is awry.
Any moisture or mold could be a sign of something wrong with your roof or attic vents. When you clean up that insulation, you also need to fix whatever is wrong. It’s important to gather all the moldy insulation and dry out the area before you add new insulation. Otherwise, you’d just be making the problem worse. Additionally, if you can’t solve the leak, you’ll just have the moisture problem again very quickly.
I actually had to clean up some moldy insulation for a family member once. Fortunately, that moisture was caused by a faulty vent fan in their bathroom, not a leak in the roof. Keep in mind that condensation on vent fans and HVAC equipment can also cause moisture buildup.
Rodents leave obvious signs. You may notice droppings, scratch marks, or nests built in your attic first. Or, you might notice the smell. Many attic dwelling creatures smell terribly. I love bats, but I don’t love bats in my attic.
Much like your crawlspace, you shouldn’t store things in an attic that isn’t climate controlled. Porous materials hold moisture. Cardboard boxes make fodder for rodent nests.
New Attic Checklist
In summary, you need to check the following:
- HVAC System
If you’ve checked all these items on the attic checklist, you’ve done what you can do with your attic as a new homeowner. Don’t forget to do these checks at least once a year. Fixing small problems can save you tens of thousands of dollars.