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Prevent Water Damage in the Attic
By Terry Allen
Located at the top of the house just below the roof, the attic is where you should begin with efforts to control the natural drying out of your home.
Proper attic ventilation is very important. In most homes, vents are installed along the peak of the roof. Moisture or surface discoloration near the vent is a red flag; find the source of moisture and repair the problem. When inspecting the roof, remove any birds' nests and debris blocking the vents.
Good insulation is thick, soft and fluffy. When damaged by moisture and water, the insulation becomes thin and flat. Check the insulation frequently, especially after the rainy season.
Touch it. If it feels moist, find the moisture source and fix the problem right away. After being wet, most insulation is ineffective, but it will continue to hold moisture for a long time and will create high moisture conditions. If the insulation is wet, remove it and dispose of properly.
Ceiling and Floor
Be sure to look up and down while inspecting the attic. Focus on openings through the roof such as skylight wells, plumbing pipes, vents and chimneys. Look around and confirm that all surfaces are dry and that there is no visible rotting or mold growth.
Check the bottom side of the roof sheathing, roof rafters, and trusses for water stains. If inspecting during the daytime, make sure that the roof is completely sealed and that no daylight penetrates through roof cracks.
Inspect the floor and make sure it is dry and no dampness is visible. Remember that the water may run along the attic floor, rafters, or trusses for quite a distance before coming through the ceiling.
Check for holes, air leaks, or bypasses from the house and make sure there is enough insulation to keep house heat from escaping and causing condensation.
Common Attic Appliances
Periodically, check attic air conditioners, swamp coolers and HVAC (heating, ventilating, and cooling) systems. Look for wear and tear and loose connections. Inspect around and under these appliances. Remember that appliance failures may cause water damage to everything that lies below.
Recessed Lights Canisters
Inspecting recessed lighting canisters may provide you with reliable information regarding excessive attic moisture. The presence of rust and corrosion indicates possible moisture invasion and a potential electrical hazard.
Stains above or near the wood, or on the insulation around the canisters are a good indicator of moisture-related problems.
Consider upgrading old recessed lights canisters with newer, safer ones that include built-in insulation.
Smart Tips for Water Damage Prevention in the Attic:
- Ensure there is adequate ventilation in the attic as well as crawlspaces and overhang areas.
- Attic pipes must be well insulated as they are very susceptible to freezing.
- During cold seasons, the attic should be five to ten degrees warmer than the outside air to prevent ice from forming on the roof.
- Be aware of seasonal moisture problems and check the attic routinely.
- Attic stains should be investigated promptly even if the area is currently dry.