Home Inspection Checklist in Pittsburgh
In today’s home inspection blog post, we’re going to take a few moments to vent…about vents.
Over more than 26 years of inspecting homes of all kinds—from newly constructed residences to structures built more than a century ago—the certified inspectors at A-Pro have seen it all when it comes to vents. While it may not be something home-shoppers will be acutely aware of when first touring a property, a home lacking in proper ventilation will certainly cause grief, as well as added expenses, if not taken seriously.
Airtight homes that don’t allow a constant exchange of indoor and outdoor air will trap moisture and dangerous gases, like carbon monoxide, inside. Improperly placed and poorly functioning vents increase the chance of excessive humidity, which can make the home uncomfortable, bring on higher utility bills, cause costly damage, and, in the case of toxic gases, lead to illness or death. It’s why vents rank high on the list of items your home inspector will be checking during a foundation-to-roof inspection.
Here is a brief home inspection checklist of venting problems that you’ll want to be aware of as you look for a new home:
Attic: Our checklist begins in the place where venting is perhaps most critical—the attic. Even before examining the number, location, and size of intake and exhaust vents, the inspector will already be taking into consideration observations that indicate there may be humidity problems caused by inadequate airflow under the roof cavity. These include mold and mildew, damp insulation, a warm ceiling below the attic, an overly hot attic, moisture stains on rafters (due to condensation rather than roof leaks), peeling exterior paint, shingle damage, and sheathing delamination from high attic temperatures. During the winter, ice dams at the eaves are a major red flag that improper venting is causing temperature variations that cause roof snow to melt in some spots and freeze in others.
The inspector will assess what vents are present, such as a ridge, soffit, and gable types. The home inspection report will indicate if there is a proper balance between vents that let outside air in (soffit vents) with those that allow inside air to escape (ridge vents). The number of vents needed will be dictated by the size of the attic. A common installation problem is non-baffled vents that don’t allow air to flow past insulation.
Bathroom Fan Vent: Your inspector will make sure the bathroom fan vent is moving moisture to the outside rather than to the attic. Moist, warm air sent to the attic rather than through the roof or side of the house will accelerate roof damage. Further, poor venting and the resulting high humidity in the bathroom will cause problems such as peeling wallpaper, mold and mildew growth and leaks due to condensation from a non-insulated fan duct. The condensation drains back down the duct, often resulting in a water stain on the ceiling. As part of the bathroom fan evaluation, the inspector will operate the appliance and listen for odd noises or signs of struggle.
Kitchen Exhaust System: There are a number of issues your home inspector will be looking for when inspecting the kitchen’s exhaust system. Similar to a bathroom fan, the system should exhaust kitchen moisture, contaminants, and odors to the outside rather than the attic, crawlspace, or other parts of the house. The inspector will operate the fan, test outside dampers to see if they can be opened, check outside terminations for proper coverings, report on problematic ceiling openings that can result after amateurish installation of the fan and ducting, and check ducts to make sure they’re sealed to the fan using recommended material based on the duct’s flexibility.
Dryer Exhaust: Even for careful homeowners, the dryer vent is often forgotten when performing routine home maintenance. The inspector will ensure that the exhaust generated by this appliance vents to the outside and that dryer venting is not hooked into another venting system in the house. The inspection also entails checking to see if vent pipes are properly connected; ducting isn’t overly long; the duct is constructed from rigid metal and shows no signs of sagging; there is a metal transition duct at the interior wall; exhaust termination is far enough away from doors, windows, fresh-air intakes of certain appliances, and outside A/C condensing units; there is a damper at the termination but not a screen; the wall penetration is caulked and has flashing to prevent moisture penetration, and ducts are insulated if it’s a cold-weather climate.
Crawlspace Venting: Research has found that the presence of vents in a crawlspace may actually contribute to moisture accumulation and mold growth, which will be noted in the home inspection report.