What to look for in your annual attic inspection (and how to save by doing it yourself)

Key tips to remember

  • Do it once a year
  • Have the correct tools
  • Look for condensation or water spots
Maintenance and Repairs, DIY

Just like every other area of your home, your attic needs regular maintenance and care. As a homeowner, it is important for you to take some time at least once a year to do a thorough check for any problems that could become more costly or serious over time. A home inspector can be hired for this task, but with a little bit of know-how and a few minutes of careful observation, you can do this job all by yourself.


What you need

  • Long sleeves
  • Long pants
  • Flashlight
  • Camera, with flash

Entering the attic
If you have a hatch-style attic entrance, be sure to have someone hold the ladder as you climb up. As a best practice, many professionals pound on the hatch before attempting to enter in order to let critters know they are coming.


What to look for
First things first, stop and take a deep smell. A damp, earthy odor likely means molds or mildew may be present. Smoke is another consideration; or even the smell of feces from small animals. What you want is presence of circulating air—so if you don’t have that you may have an issue.

Your next step is to locate the trusses or beams in order to walk around, as stepping directly on a drywall ceiling can be dangerous.

Once you’re safely situated, here’s what you should look for:

  • Condensation, water or mold on the plywood under the roof and any holes or sagging areas.
  • Any deterioration on the exterior of the chimney duct. This can create a dangerous environment and possible fire source. Ensure that the chimney is properly sealed where it comes through the attic floor and roof.
  • Any damage to wooden structural parts that looks suggestive of termites. Small holes and bits of sawdust are common signs of these pests.
  • Loose wiring. Rodents are known to chew into wire insulation and expose wires to the insulation in your attic, which can cause a fire or electrical outage.
  • Proper ventilation of ceiling fans from kitchen and bathrooms. These must be vented to the outside to prevent this moist air from staying in the attic causing mold.
  • Leaks from any heating or air conditioning duct work. This can be felt and can be seen from condensation around the ducting. Not only can this lead to mold, it also means that you are probably overpaying on your utility bills.
  • Proper sealing around windows and dormers. The outside environment must be kept out and sealant can break down over time to allow it to come in.
  • Appropriate square footage of venting, both in the eaves and at the top of the roof. It is important for these to not only be large enough, but also not obscured by stored items or other structural elements.
  • The proper amount and type of insulation. The R value, recommended for your area, can be found by calling a remodeling or insulating company or doing a quick search for this information. Whether you have enough insulation or not, it should not be wet or damp.

Though it’s out of sight, and often out of mind, your attic is a necessary part of your home that requires inspection. Once you’ve given it a check, consider making another smart move and investing in a home warranty. A Cinch home protection plan will reduce your household liability by protecting you against the high cost of repairing or replacing your covered appliances or home systems, and you guessed it - your attic fans. 

And it makes caring for your home, more easy than ever.


The information in this article is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.