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  1. #1
    Rick Maday's Avatar
    Rick Maday Guest

    Default Attic inspection - case study

    Started a new thread to show a specific attic I was confronted with.

    From the hatch - directly in front (for orientation sake) is "open"// to the immediate right (6 inches) is a OSB "wall" about 6-8 feet long // immediately behind (4 inches) is a "wall" of insulation. Directly to the left (six inches) is a truss connection - with the web opening getting to 36 inches about a foot or two down the line.
    Insulation varies in spots from 4-10 inches (blown in over batt). Conduit and other piping/ducts visible below insulation in parts where insulation is lower and the material runs on top of bottom truss cord. Also can lights in various parts of the house in there too. Rather large attic and I am wondering if you would/could get in there. (Arenít you a bit curious about what's on the other side of the wall?)
    I just re-read the Attic inspection thread and am debating myself (I think I'm losing too! ) about traversing attics. I know everything is on a case by case basis, but I have real concern about two points:

    1) Injury to myself by hidden electrical wires.
    Not too concerned with falling through - be extra careful! Any injury sustained, while possibly very damaging (esp to my pride), it's doubtful (unless I hit just right/wrong) that it would be fatal.

    2) Damages to ducts, pipes, conduit, wire, can lights etc. That I "find" with my foot. Again not so concerned with visible damage caused (as it is known and a solution found), but with "latent" damage that could become an issue days, weeks, months down the road.

    Am I being too paranoid/scared/concerned? I know that roofs are a huge concern for clients and attics are the best place to find issues or potential issues. I guess the duty to the client and safety may be at odds here.

    Tough business decision.

    I'll let you know what I did in that attic after I get a few replies.


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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Attic inspection - case study

    Looks like a typical attic that I go into on every inspection. Walk on the joists/truss, be careful, take a spare light, spend as much time as needed, and disclaim everything you can't see.

    Injury possibility comes with the job and I have injured both myself and the property, but there is no other way to see what is present if you don't look. I will not go in if it is too small, etc. but if I can fit, I try my best.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Dallas, Texas

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Attic inspection - case study

    If the insulation covers all the joists it is a safety hazard and not out of line to disclaim all except what you can see. If you have that sixth sense that we all get after awile that says. "There is something I need to see back there". well then suit up and go in. Sometimes it's one side or the other.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Attic inspection - case study

    Insulation looks pretty deep and headroom looks restricted. I probably would not go in because repairs (to the house and myself) can get expensive.

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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Attic inspection - case study

    I can't for the life of me understand why we keep on calling these spaces above the living area "attics".
    To me they are nothing more than a weather protection system for a dwelling.
    Attics used to be places that had floors and old memories tucked away in boxes. A place where you went as a kid to play and hide. or as an adult, to reminisce over the items stored there.
    Nowadays, you're lucky to find a platform in front of the air handler.

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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Attic inspection - case study

    Beyond what I can see standing in the hatch, in an attic like that (no HVAC) my priorities are:

    1) If I feel it's safe, get a close look at any appliance vents / chimneys passing through the attic - that's what might kill some one.

    2) If I feel it's safe, get a close look at other roof penetrations, that's the most likely way water will enter the attic and do significant damage.

    3) If I feel it's safe, establish if eaves /and ridge are properly vented, and that bath and kitchen exhaust are passing to the outside.

    4) If I feel it's safe, examine the framing in detail. You will catch a lot of stuff this way, but in my experience little of it will have major significance - I am looking for the exceptions that do.

    Now, what's "safe"?

    IMO, it's easier to say whats not.

    For example I will NOT go plowing through insulation if it appears that if contains NM, BX or K&T wiring - not only can I hurt myself, I may damage the wiring in ways that later cause a fire.

    Walk on insulation covered joists?

    Not unless I can clearly see that I can maintain at least three point contact while putting my weight at a .location above or near a bearing wall.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Attic inspection - case study

    I agree with Jim.
    Around here, on homes less than 15 years old, I expect to see 12-20" of insulation. Love the white stuff. Just let your feet find the joist.
    And like Jim said, carry a spare light.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  8. #8
    Rick Maday's Avatar
    Rick Maday Guest

    Default Re: Attic inspection - case study

    Thanks for the replies. As this was my own house, I did walk aorund it a bit. Gently kicked a few things, conduit/vents, etc. I was 99% sure i wouldn't find any exposed wire. Behind that wall was nearly two feet of the insulation. I didn't (?wouldn't/couldn't?) get to every corner of the attic, still not sure what I'd do if this was an attic for a client. It was surprisingly cool up there - guess ventilation is good!
    I guess the most important thing is to be consistant in everything we do and make sure the client understands the limitations.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Attic inspection - case study

    Experience is a good teacher. After you have a mishap or come close a few times, you get a good feel for what is safe for you. If you do not have good balance, you shouldn't try it IMHO. I think it depends on ones abilities and comfort level. Each to his own on this one. Most clients will not think less of you as long as you are up front and reasonable.

    If it weren't for lawyers, we would never need them.

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