Attic Ventilation and
Two of the most frequent and
least recognized problems home owners face with their residences are
inadequate attic ventilation and insufficient insulating of the attic
floor. Poor attic ventilation can lead to excessive heat in the summer,
which will prematurely damage roofing materials and require additional
cooling of the living spaces below. The shallow layer of attic
insulation in older homes exacerbates this problem.
During winter, moisture from indoor activities migrates from the living
spaces to the attic, which moisture can cause delaminating of the
plywood roof sheathing and rotting of both the sheathing and framing.
Excessive moisture in the attic has been the primary cause of failure of
fire resistant treated (FRT) plywood.
Rusting nails and stained roof sheathing are initial signs of a
ventilation problem. During the winter, cold temperatures travel through
the metal of nails and staples. Moisture in the attic will condense on
the colder surfaces and cause rusting.
tests help determine if there is sufficient ventilation in an attic. In
the winter, look for moisture or frost on exposed nails at the underside
of the roof sheathing during freezing cold weather. On warm windless
summer days, there should be a maximum 10-15 degree difference between
the air in the attic and the outside air temperature taken in a shady
area. A home with 75 degree interior air temperature and a 140 degree
attic temperature is a problem home. That excessive heat is radiating
through whatever insulation lies between the attic and the top floor
ceiling. This causes the air conditioning system to work overtime.
SOLUTIONS FOR THESE PROBLEMS INCLUDE:
Increased Insulation. Talk about bang for the bucks! About the least
expensive upgrade a home can receive is an attic insulation upgrade.
$400 to $600 worth of
insulation returns the favor in reduced heating and air conditioning
utility expenses and a more comfortable home.
• Improved natural ventilation. Ridge and soffit vents allow natural air
flow through wind action and convection currents. Cool air enters at the
soffits under the exterior roof overhands. As this air warms, natural
convection pushes it to the ridges at the top of the roof where it vents
to the outside. No power needed here, just Mother Nature’s laws of air
movement at work.
• Power attic fans. During summer operation, a thermostat automatically
operates a roof mounted fan as needed to force air circulation. We do
not recommend gable end fans. With a house vented with gable end
louvers, it is common to find a vent fan at one end pulling air from the
opposite end, through the attic and out. This works, but an attic fan
mounted through the roof near the center will pull air from both
louvers, effectively doubling the amount of air flow.
proper moisture control in the winter, the fan should be operated by a
humidistat placed at the lowest point in the attic on the north side, or
a clock timer set for two minutes each hour during cold weather. Also
during winter months after a significant snow event with snow
accumulations on the roof, run the attic fan. This pulls cold air into
the attic, reducing heat transfer through the sheathing and shingles,
thereby inhibiting snow melt at night, the cause of ice damming in
gutters and roof edges.
•Blocked Vents. Clearing insulation and other materials that may be
blocking soffit vents often cures ventilation problems. Adequate attic
ventilation all year ‘round is important to the long-term health of your
house and provides optimum interior comfort. It will also reduce heating
and cooling loads and the expenses that go along with them.
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From the Desk of
From time to time when I receive a
telephone call from a Realtor asking for advice, I am asked for a
referral to an environmental testing company. Usually the needed test is
something Alban inspectors perform and I ask myself “How did I fail to
fully inform this person about Alban services?”
Permit me to reiterate that Alban home
inspectors are qualified to perform most needed environmental tests
associated with home acquisitions and ownership.
Water and Septic System Testing. For homes
with wells or septic systems, all Alban inspectors are certified by the
State of Maryland to collect water samples for bacterial and chemical
contamination. We also perform a basic septic system dye test, which is
considered acceptable for mortgage approval purposes.
Lead-Based Paint. Quintin Satterfield and I
hold Lead Risk Assessor accreditation from the State of Maryland, which
qualifies us to perform all lead- related investigations for Maryland
and for Federal Title X. Quintin holds numerous other states’ lead
Mold Testing. All Alban home inspectors are
trained and qualified to perform mold investigations and collect samples
for laboratory analysis. For standardization purposes, Marty Blackwood
and I perform the analysis of collected information and laboratory
results and write all mold reports.
Radon Testing. We are quite proud of our relationship with Radalink,
supplier of the continuous radon monitors we utilize. Radalink analyzes
radon data and prepares all reports that are faxed either to clients or
Water Intrusion and Structural
Certifications. Water intrusion investigations for existing home owners
and our home inspection clients are common. The analysis of weaknesses
of a home contributing to water problems is an important part of home
inspecting. We are also often asked by mortgage companies or their
prospective mortgagees to inspect a potential structural problem and
certify that the area of concern is structurally sound.
Finally, we offer our clients discounts on
the cost of services when more than one service is performed at the same
Maytag and Jenn-Air Dishwashers
Maytag and Jenn-Air Corporations, in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer
Products Safety Commission, has recalled over two million dishwashers
that may be fire hazards. This recall results from reports of 135
Research into the cause of these fires found that the liquid rinse-aid
can leak from the dispenser into the electrical cabinet behind it and
contact the dishwasher’s wiring. This results in an electrical
short-circuit, which can create a fire hazard.
These are under- counter and portable plastic tub dishwashers
manufactured by Maytag, sold between July 1997 and June 2001. Maytag
model numbers start with MD (nos. B3-9, D, C3-5 and DWU9). Jenn- ir
model numbers start with JDB 3-7. The serial numbers are too numerous to
a home you are interested in purchasing has a Maytag or Jenn-Air
dishwasher or for additional information, visit the Maytag website at
maytag.com and click at the bottom right “recalls”.