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Proper Air Sealing & Moisture Control

Some home inspectors also perform Energy Star ratings or Energy Score evaluations. Some states are requiring more than just Energy Star. They are adopting a score evaluation for all homes. Soon these “scores” will be part of the properties profile, and used when the house is listed for sale. Most home inspectors do not do this type of testing which is above the requirements of a visual home inspection. However air loss and moisture intrusion can become a very important part of a home inspection. Moisture entering a house, whether as a leak or because of condensation creates issues that are detrimental to the building. Mold, wet / dry rot, Sick Building Syndrome, and other serious issues can occur. We are starting to see this in newer homes as we do with homes constructed in the 70’s and 80’s. These homes are designed to be “tight” and energy efficient. Many older homes do not experience these types of moisture issues because of the air loss resulting in the areas in question drying out before the moisture becomes a problem. It is not trapped and air (leaks) will dry it out. There are issues that we may not be able to see during a visual home inspection. Some of these are: air barrier, which should be continuous, insulation installed properly, vapor barrier in the proper place / orientation, flashing, etc. So many things that effect air sealing / loss and moisture intrusion that we cannot see. Energy Star has a checklist that inspectors use when performing an inspection. This is also good information for a home inspector. You can find this list by clicking on this link: CLICK HERE

Without being able to see some of the areas where these problems may have originated, what can a home inspector look for:

  • Garage band joist
  • Floor above garage
  • Attic knee walls
  • Skylight shaft walls
  • Wall adjoining porch roof
  • Basement / crawl space band joists
  • Crawl space walls (foam is the best choice for this application)
  • Slab – edge insulation
  • Look for thermal bridging in attic space
  • Insulation should not have gaps
  • Cantilevered areas are properly insulated with vapor barrier
  • At least a 6 mil vapor barrier on dirt craw space floors
  • Openings to unconditioned spaces are fully sealed
  • Attic access panel is insulated
  • Attic drop down stairs are fully insulated
  • Recessed lighting properly sealed (must be IC rated)
  • Whole house fan cover is insulated
  • Common wall between dwelling units is insulated and fire rated
  • Pipe / shaft penetrations are properly sealed (fire caulk / sealant if necessary)

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