Inspection Training

How to Inspect the Insulation in the Attic (UPDATED 7/17/18)

When the inspector is in the attic it is important to determine what type of insulation is present in the attic and the depth of that insulation. If there is Fiberglass Batt insulation the inspector should always check what direction the paper is facing (it should always be facing the heated portion of the home). Please review the complete procedure below.

FIBERGLASS INSULATION

NACHI SOP

International Standards of Practice for Performing a General Home Inspection

 

3.9. Attic, Insulation & Ventilation

 

I. The inspector shall inspect:

A. Insulation in unfinished spaces, including attics, crawlspaces and foundation areas.

 

II. The inspector shall describe:

A. The type of insulation observed; and

B. The approximate average depth of insulation observed at the unfinished attic floor area or roof structure.

 

III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:

A. The general absence of insulation or ventilation in unfinished spaces.

 

IV. The inspector is not required to:

A. Enter the attic or any unfinished spaces that are not readily accessible, or where entry could cause damage or, in the inspector’s opinion, pose a safety hazard.

B. Move, touch or disturb insulation.

C. Move, touch or disturb vapor retarders.

D. Break or otherwise damage the surface finish or weather seal on or around access panels or covers.

E. Identify the composition or R-value of insulation material.

G. Determine the type of materials used in insulation or wrapping of pipes, ducts, jackets, boilers or wiring.

FOAM INSULATION
Axium SOP Differences 

Axium Requires: The inspector will determine the type of insulation being used in the attic and how thick that insulation is on average. Typically, Axium would like to recommend at least 11 inches of insulation be used in the attic.

ROCK WOOL

Tools Needed

The inspector will need a tape measure in order to accurately measure the insulation and a flashlight to be able to inspect the insulation throughout the attic.

Procedure

  • The inspector will first determine the type of insulation and then use the tape measure to determine the thickness of the insulation. There are two required pictures for this section with the first picture showing the tape measure and the thickness of the insulation. The second picture will show the coverage of insulation throughout the attic.

        

  • Make sure to look corner to corner and identify any areas of missing insulation. Especially over newly renovated areas like new kitchens and bathrooms where they may have removed insulation to install new ceilings or light fixtures.
  • The inspector should report as repair/replace if the insulation is less than 10 inches.
  • Make sure you can identify Vermiculite insulation and select the RR vermiculite comment. Do not enter attics or walk attics with Vermiculite insulation that could contain asbestos.

  • The paper or vapor barrier should be down and in contact with the ceiling if present.
  • The paper or plastic vapor barrier should not be on top or between layers of insulation. This can allow for condensation and trap moisture.
  • Skylight boxes should be insulated. Skylight chases and vaulted ceiling walls should be insulated. Insulation dams should be installed around recessed lights.

 

Common Defects

  • Insulation being over knob and tube wiring. See section 2.06 (Visible Electric Wiring in Attic) for specific comment on the defect of knob and tube wiring.
  • Having a low level of insulation (less than 10 inches).
  • The insulation material being vermiculite which could possibly contain asbestos. Insulation that is concealed by blackboard or plastic.
  • Insulation has a paper face and is concealed in plastic which can trap moisture and create condensation.
  • Insulation that is deteriorated or hanging loose.
  • Insulation that is loose/fallen, missing (in areas), or not uniform.
  • Insulation that is not wide enough or has recessed (no clearance). Insulation that is wet or has been laid with the wrong side up.
  • Stored items being on top of insulation.

Common Mistakes

  • Identifying the wrong type of insulation in the attic.
  • The picture showing the thickness of insulation not being clear enough to see the inches of insulation on the picture.
  • Not checking throughout the attic for insulation in all areas.
  • Not calling out paper facing the wrong direction as a defect.

Report / Software

IN


  • The [word 1] insulation in the attic [word 2]. Insulation levels are specified by R-Value. R-Value is a measure of insulation’s ability to resist heat traveling through it. The higher the R-Value the better the thermal performance of the insulation. Current standards for existing wood-framed buildings for this climate and location are R38-R60. Recommend increasing insulation to achieve current standards as necessary.
    -Type:
    -Batt
    -Blown & Batt
    -Cellulose
    -Fiberglass
    -Foam
    -Rock Wool
    -Thickness
    -Numbers ranging from 4 or less up to 20.

NI

  • The inspector did not have access to the attic to properly evaluate the insulation.

NP

  • There was no insulation in the attic at the time of the inspection. Insulation levels are specified by R- Value. R-Value is a measure of insulation’s ability to resist heat traveling through it. The higher the R- Value the better the thermal performance of the insulation. Current standards for existing wood- framed buildings for this climate and location are R38-R60. Recommend increasing insulation to achieve current standards as necessary.
 

 

RR

  • The [word 1] insulation in the attic [word 2]. The insulation [word 3]. A qualified contractor should evaluate and take corrective action as necessary. Insulation levels are specified by R-Value. R-Value is a measure of insulation’s ability to resist heat traveling through it. The higher the R-Value the better the thermal performance of the insulation. Current standards for existing wood-framed buildings for this climate and location are R38-R60. Recommend increasing insulation to achieve current standards as necessary.
    • -Type:
      • Batt
      • Blown & Batt
      • Cellulose
      • Fiberglass
      • Foam
      • Rock Wool
    • Thickness
      • Numbers ranging from 4 or less up to 20
    • Defect
      • Concealed (Blackboard)
      • Concealed (Plastic)
      • Deteriorated
      • Hanging Loose
      • Has a paper face and concealed in plastic which can trap moisture and create condensation.
      • loose/Fallen
      • Missing
      • Missing (Areas)
      • Not Uniform
      • Not Wide Enough
      • Recessed (No Clearance)
      • Skylight Walls
      • Stored Items
      • Thinner Than Current
      • Wet
      • Wrong Side Up
  • Vermiculite: The attic contains what appears to be vermiculite insulation. Not all vermiculite insulation contains asbestos but prior to its close in 1990, much of the world’s supply of vermiculite came from a mine near Libby, Montana. This mine had a natural deposit of asbestos which resulted in the vermiculite being contaminated with asbestos. Attic insulation produced using vermiculite ore, particularly ore that originated from the Libby mine, may contain asbestos fibers. The EPA, ASTDR and NACHI recommend that I assume vermiculite insulation contains asbestos and so should you. EPA, ATSDR, IAC2 and NACHI strongly recommend that property owners make every effort not to disturb vermiculite insulation in their attics. If you occasionally have to go into your attic, current best practices state you should: Make every effort to stay on the floored part of your attic and to not disturb the insulation. If you must perform activities that may disturb the attic insulation such as moving boxes (or other materials), do so as gently as possible to minimize the disturbance. Leave the attic immediately after the disturbance. If you need work done in your attic such as the installation of cable or utility lines, hire trained and certified professionals who can safely do the work. It is possible that vermiculite attic insulation can sift through cracks in the ceiling, around light fixtures, or around ceiling fans. You can prevent this by sealing the cracks and holes that insulation could pass through. Common dust masks are not effective against asbestos fibers.