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May 2007 Newsletter         
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Attic Ventilation and Insulation

Two of the most frequent and least recognized problems home owners face with their residences are inadequate attic ventilation and insufficient insulating of the attic floor. Poor attic ventilation can lead to excessive heat in the summer, which will prematurely damage roofing materials and require additional cooling of the living spaces below. The shallow layer of attic insulation in older homes exacerbates this problem.

During winter, moisture from indoor activities migrates from the living spaces to the attic, which moisture can cause delaminating of the plywood roof sheathing and rotting of both the sheathing and framing. Excessive moisture in the attic has been the primary cause of failure of fire resistant treated (FRT) plywood.

Rusting nails and stained roof sheathing are initial signs of a ventilation problem. During the winter, cold temperatures travel through the metal of nails and staples. Moisture in the attic will condense on the colder surfaces and cause rusting.

Two tests help determine if there is sufficient ventilation in an attic. In the winter, look for moisture or frost on exposed nails at the underside of the roof sheathing during freezing cold weather. On warm windless summer days, there should be a maximum 10-15 degree difference between the air in the attic and the outside air temperature taken in a shady area. A home with 75 degree interior air temperature and a 140 degree attic temperature is a problem home. That excessive heat is radiating through whatever insulation lies between the attic and the top floor ceiling. This causes the air conditioning system to work overtime.


• Increased Insulation. Talk about bang for the bucks! About the least expensive upgrade a home can receive is an attic insulation upgrade. $400 to $600 worth of
insulation returns the favor in reduced heating and air conditioning utility expenses and a more comfortable home.

• Improved natural ventilation. Ridge and soffit vents allow natural air flow through wind action and convection currents. Cool air enters at the soffits under the exterior roof overhands. As this air warms, natural convection pushes it to the ridges at the top of the roof where it vents to the outside. No power needed here, just Mother Nature’s laws of air movement at work.

• Power attic fans. During summer operation, a thermostat automatically operates a roof mounted fan as needed to force air circulation. We do not recommend gable end fans. With a house vented with gable end louvers, it is common to find a vent fan at one end pulling air from the opposite end, through the attic and out. This works, but an attic fan mounted through the roof near the center will pull air from both louvers, effectively doubling the amount of air flow.

For proper moisture control in the winter, the fan should be operated by a humidistat placed at the lowest point in the attic on the north side, or a clock timer set for two minutes each hour during cold weather. Also during winter months after a significant snow event with snow accumulations on the roof, run the attic fan. This pulls cold air into the attic, reducing heat transfer through the sheathing and shingles, thereby inhibiting snow melt at night, the cause of ice damming in gutters and roof edges.

•Blocked Vents. Clearing insulation and other materials that may be blocking soffit vents often cures ventilation problems. Adequate attic ventilation all year ‘round is important to the long-term health of your house and provides optimum interior comfort. It will also reduce heating and cooling loads and the expenses that go along with them.

Alban is proud to offer FREE Continuing Education Courses in Real Estate Offices!
Call Tina to schedule one of our educational seminars, for additional information, or to schedule our services at 800-822-7200 or 301-662-6565.

From the Desk of
Arthur Lazerow

From time to time when I receive a telephone call from a Realtor asking for advice, I am asked for a referral to an environmental testing company. Usually the needed test is something Alban inspectors perform and I ask myself “How did I fail to fully inform this person about Alban services?”

Permit me to reiterate that Alban home inspectors are qualified to perform most needed environmental tests associated with home acquisitions and ownership.

Water and Septic System Testing. For homes with wells or septic systems, all Alban inspectors are certified by the State of Maryland to collect water samples for bacterial and chemical contamination. We also perform a basic septic system dye test, which is considered acceptable for mortgage approval purposes.

Lead-Based Paint. Quintin Satterfield and I hold Lead Risk Assessor accreditation from the State of Maryland, which qualifies us to perform all lead- related investigations for Maryland and for Federal Title X. Quintin holds numerous other states’ lead accreditations.

Mold Testing. All Alban home inspectors are trained and qualified to perform mold investigations and collect samples for laboratory analysis. For standardization purposes, Marty Blackwood and I perform the analysis of collected information and laboratory results and write all mold reports.

Radon Testing. We are quite proud of our relationship with Radalink, supplier of the continuous radon monitors we utilize. Radalink analyzes radon data and prepares all reports that are faxed either to clients or to Realtors.

Water Intrusion and Structural Certifications. Water intrusion investigations for existing home owners and our home inspection clients are common. The analysis of weaknesses of a home contributing to water problems is an important part of home inspecting. We are also often asked by mortgage companies or their prospective mortgagees to inspect a potential structural problem and certify that the area of concern is structurally sound.

Finally, we offer our clients discounts on the cost of services when more than one service is performed at the same inspection.


Maytag and Jenn-Air Dishwashers

Maytag and Jenn-Air Corporations, in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, has recalled over two million dishwashers that may be fire hazards. This recall results from reports of 135 dishwasher fires.

Research into the cause of these fires found that the liquid rinse-aid can leak from the dispenser into the electrical cabinet behind it and contact the dishwasher’s wiring. This results in an electrical short-circuit, which can create a fire hazard.

These are under- counter and portable plastic tub dishwashers manufactured by Maytag, sold between July 1997 and June 2001. Maytag model numbers start with MD (nos. B3-9, D, C3-5 and DWU9). Jenn- ir model numbers start with JDB 3-7. The serial numbers are too numerous to list.

If a home you are interested in purchasing has a Maytag or Jenn-Air dishwasher or for additional information, visit the Maytag website at maytag.com and click at the bottom right “recalls”.

Integrity in Home Inspecting, Confidence in Home Owning The ASHI Experience