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Wed, Sep 14th - 3:19AM

Moisture and Animals in your Attic

The attic access minimum size is a rough-framed opening at least 22 inches by 30 inches. It should be located in a hallway or other readily accessible location. Attics can also help control temperature in a house by providing a large mass of unmoving air. Hot air rising from lower floors of a building often gets trapped in the attic, further compounding their reputation as inhospitable environments. However, in recent years many attics have been insulated to help decrease heating costs since on average, uninsulated attics account for 15% of the total energy loss in a typical house.

Knee walls are vertical walls with an attic space directly behind them. You'll typically find them in houses with finished attic spaces and dormer windows, as with 1-story houses. There are a couple of ways that you may see a knee wall insulated. The most important areas and most overlooked areas to insulate are the open joist ends below the knee wall. Air sealing reduces heat flow from air movement, or convection. Air sealing prevents water vapor in the air from entering the wall assembly. In a 100-square-foot wall, 1 cup of water can diffuse through drywall without a vapor diffusion retarder in a single year. Fifty cups can enter through a -inch round hole. Air sealing is 10 to 100 times as important as installing a vapor diffusion retarder.

Insulation performance is measured by R-value - its ability to resist heat flow. Higher R-values mean more insulating power. Different R-values are recommended for walls, attics, basements and crawlspaces, depending on your area of the country. Insulation works best when air is not moving through or around it. So it is very important to seal air leaks before installing insulation to ensure that you get the best performance from the insulation.

Attics make a great place to live! They are warm and dry and safe. Eastern Gray Squirrels are highly adaptable animals, and they are very agile. They are arboreal, which means they live in trees. Female squirrels give birth to two litters of young per year, one in summer, and one in winter. The exact time of birth can vary a bit based on several factors, but generally the winter litter is born in early February and the summer litter in early August. Much of the time, the female makes a leaf and twig nest high up in a tree. If she can find a hollow tree, that's even better. If she can find an attic, that's better still. Squirrels are very urbanized animals, as you can see when you look out your window. They are members of the rodent family, and are excellent at gnawing and chewing on wood. Combine these factors, and of course it makes sense that female squirrels chew their way into attics in order to have and raise young. In fact, male squirrels or any squirrel at any time of the year may find that an attic makes a good place to safely spend the night and store nuts. Though the squirrels mostly live in the attic, they'll also live in soffits, squirrels down in walls, between floors in the ceiling, and other areas inside the architecture.

A well-insulated house is a bit like dressing for the weather. A wool sweater will keep you warm if the wind is not blowing and it is not raining. On a windy, rainy day, wearing a nylon shell over your wool sweater helps keep you reasonably dry and warm. A house is similar. On the outside, underneath the brick or siding, there is an air barrier that does the same thing as the nylon - it keeps the wind from blowing through. Then there is the insulation (like your sweater) and a vapour barrier, which helps keep moisture away from the house structure where it can do damage.

R values and their metric equivalent, RSI values, are a way of labelling the effectiveness of insulating materials. The higher the R value or RSI value, the more resistance the material has to the movement of heat. Insulation products sold in Canada are labelled with R and RSI values. Provincial building codes specify minimum R (or RSI) values for new construction, with different values for different applications. It is important to know what your local building code requires when planning new construction.

When your home is inspected by a Professional Home Inspector they are checking for proper ventilation, presence of moisture, proper insulation, mould, proper structural support and signs of rodent or animal entry. Bat feces or vermiculite insulation removal can run into ten thousand dollars or more for removal. Compared to the cost of hiring the Barrie Home Inspector for $200.00 this is a really cost effective way to protect yourself and ensure Peace of Mind on your next Real Estate purchase.

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