Homeowner’s Manual: Roof Structures and Attics (Updated for 2021!)

Roof Structure and Framing in the Attic

IMPORTANT – Safety Note: Attic inspections are best conducted during cool weather or early in the morning. If you expect to spend more than a few minutes in the attic, a dust mask is recommended. Exercise extreme care to step only on solid decking or framing members. Falling through the ceiling could ruin your day!

Attic Framing

Check roof framing for loose members and separation or gaps where rafters connect to ridge boards. Also be sure metal truss plates are not twisted or loose. Excessive evidence of movement could suggest foundation problems and should be inspected by a qualified structural engineer. The underside of roof decking should be dry and free of water stains and mildew caused by leaks. Valleys deserve special attention. Be sure that attic vent pipes from bathrooms, the kitchen range hood and the clothes dryer are intact and direct moisture and fumes through the roof to the outside. In some older homes, bathroom vents and the kitchen range hood were terminated in the attic. This is unsafe and no longer considered acceptable. Consider extending these vents through the roof. A good time to do this is when the roof surface is replaced. Torn or missing soffit vent screens allow birds and other critters into the attic; they should be repaired or replaced. Consider calling an exterminator if you find rodent droppings, nesting materials or other evidence of critters.


Attic Ventilation

Good ventilation removes moisture and heat from the attic, contributing to a healthy house. Check that your attic is adequately ventilated and that all vent screens are in good condition. To check soffit vents, stand in the center of a dark attic and look for light at the edges. No visible light may indicate soffit vents are blocked by insulation. Proper attic ventilation is calculated at one (1) square foot of free vent area be provided for every one-hundred and fifty (150) square feet of ceiling area. Proper ventilation will help to keep the house cooler during warm weather and extend the life of the roofing materials. In colder climates, it will help reduce the potential for ice dams on the roof and condensation within the attic area.


Attic Insulation

Adequate attic insulation helps keep your home comfortable and lowers heating and cooling costs. Look at the insulation in your attic spaces and consider adding insulation if yours is skimpy, compacted or unevenly distributed. Consult an insulation specialist to determine what is recommended in your area.


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