INSPECTOR INSIGHTS: MOLD IN ATTIC SPACE

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Attic spaces are a critical part of a home.  They help support the roof over our head which keeps the elements out.

With the attic usually at the top of the house, hot air tends to collect in this area.  What this can do if not properly prepared is can create condensation inside the attic space.
 
How condensation forms is because when the hot air in an attic space meets the cold surface in the attic, it can lower the temperature of the air forcing it to shed its moisture.  Hot air holds more moisture than cold air, and due to the lower amount of moisture that can held, it will collect against the cold surface, and we get condensation.
 
The danger of condensation is obviously water against the wood, but also this gives the right conditions for mold to form. 

So really the solution is keeping the hot air OUT of the attic.  This is achieved by having sufficient insulation inside the attic to make sure the hot air stays inside the house.  But since this isn't a perfect solution, ventilation is added as well to make sure that the roof air as a way of escaping when it does get there.
 
Seems easy right?  But its easier said than done.
 
The reality is many properties in the lower mainland have mold inside the attic.  We live in a very wet environment on the west coast and it can create a lot of humidity in the air.
 
Doesn't mean it makes mold 'ok'.  Health Canada advises that mold be cleaned, dead or alive.  But when I do an inspection, I always look at what is causing the mold more than the mold itself.  I also consider how severe it is.  Seems that every building has a little bit in it.
 
A lot of times, it can simply be a lack of ventilation.  One way this happens is when the insulation inside the attic is blocking something called the soffit vents. 
 
These are the vents at the very edge of the roof, and they allow fresh air in.  Having these blocked is a common way that condensation can form, creating the environment for mold growth.  So that means the obvious, and rather easy fix is, make sure the soffits aren't blocked.


These are some critical things to consider when buying a home, what the issue that is causing the effect, rather than the effect itself.
 

Aaron Borsch
Certified Master Home Inspector (CMHI)
A Buyer's Choice Home Inspections - Tricities, BC
Inspected Once.  Inspected Right!
 
License #: 53540
Phone: 604-880-0818
Email: Aaron.Borsch@abuyerschoice.com
 


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