Jun 11, 2012 / 5:00 am
The vast majority of home buyers don’t access the crawlspace or pop the attic hatch to see what’s inside. That’s a great reason to hire a home inspector. For those of us home inspectors that love what we do, opening up an attic hatch is kind of like pioneering into the unknown. You just never know what or who you’re going to meet. The majority of the time I find that the condition of the attic construction, ventilation, and insulation is A-1 and I’m always happy to confirm that. Other times, attic inspections can yield mould, moisture or bug or animal infestations.
Attic insulation problems usually point to the absence of insulation or poor insulation levels. In some cases older homes may contain vermiculite insulation.
When this home was built, it employed construction styles and materials that were acceptable for the day. One of the products found in the attic of this home was vermiculate insulation. The concern with vermiculite insulation is that it is known to contain asbestos fibres. In order to be certain, the material must be tested. Not all vermiculite produced contained asbestos fibres. However, to be safe and in the absence of evidence to the contrary, it is reasonable to assume that if a building has vermiculite-based insulation, it may contain some asbestos.
I’m always on the lookout for asbestos products during home inspections. Because it is a valuable reinforcing, insulating and fire-proofing material, asbestos was used widely in construction materials such as insulation board, asbestos cement, and floor and ceiling tiles. These products are very dense and do not release significant amounts of fibres under normal use. Asbestos fibre concentrations in the air in buildings are usually about the same as in the air outside, and are not a significant risk. However, fibres may be released if these products are cut, damaged or disturbed.
Asbestos poses health risks only when fibres are present in the air that people breathe. You can’t always tell if a product contains asbestos just by looking at it. If you suspect, or you are in doubt that asbestos is present call in a qualified professional.
For more information on vermiculite insulation click here.
Read more About the House - Hugh Cairns articles
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- Hugh Cairns: home inspections Apr 15
- Hugh Cairns: mobile home inspections Apr 8
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- Replacing aluminum wiring Mar 25
- Is aluminum wiring safe? Mar 18
- Eco-friendly, reusable moving boxes Mar 11
- Ductless heat pumps Mar 4
- Spring exterior maintenance Feb 25
- Removing wood chip insulation Feb 18
- Wood chip insulation Feb 11
- Do I have enough attic insulation? Feb 4
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