Kaplan University School of Professional and Continuing Education Kaplan University School of Professional and Continuing Education

How to Inspect a Garage Attic

Posted by: Kaplan Real Estate Education

Published: September 4, 2018

Find Out From a Professional Home Inspector How to Inspect a Garage Attic

Garage attics need to be inspected just as thoroughly as the foundation, the floor joists, or the wall structure of the home. Learn from a professional in the home inspection industry how to inspect this attic space with confidence. Discover areas of the attic that have the highest probability of causing problems. Lead instructor, Doug Hastings, will teach you about the structural components and lateral bracing, the mechanical components, the fire barrier, and more.


Video Transcript
You know, it's not uncommon for a garage attics to not have any insulation in them.  It makes it a little easier for us to inspect.  You know, on hot summer days like this, attics are never the most comfortable place to be but nonetheless, we need to inspect them and we need to inspect them just as thoroughly as we would the foundation, the floor joists, or the wall structure of the home. 

We're always paying attention to those areas that have the highest probability of problems so example, if I could look at this edge here would tell me that there's an area where the roof comes over and fastens to the wall.  That means there's a flashing detail on the other side of this.  What I would be looking for, because there's a higher probability that there might be moisture there.  I don't see any here but nonetheless, I'm going to spend a little more time looking there then maybe I would the body of the roof because the shingles themselves have a low probability of leakage. 

As we walk along these tresses, again, you're always sensitive to walking through, so be very careful of that.  But we're going to pay attention again to that lateral bracing.  Here's a little marking with a red tag on it that says lateral bracing required here so all of these vertical trusses would need to have either a two by six or a two by four that goes perpendicular to them, nailed together to bind them as one. 

Continuing out to the outer area of the trusses themselves, you'll notice that there's a perpendicular girder truss out here.  And as we get out to look at the girder truss, you'll notice that they're connected with metal joist hangers.  Very, very good.  That's exactly what we would want to see.  So we're looking at those, making sure there's sufficient nails in them, and making sure that there hasn't been any movement in those trusses.  Again, that would be an area that had a higher probability of a problem so we're going to spend a little more time there. 

You know, as you look around in an open attic space like this, you get a chance to look at the metal gusset plates and you get to look at the other bracing that is involved in the construction of this attic space.  Sometimes you'll also see some mechanical components that go through the attic so over here we've got a vent pipe which is probably venting a gas or exhaust fan down in the ceiling below.  Why is that important to us?  Had that exhaust van not gone all the way through the attic space, now we would be adding moisture into the attic and that would be unacceptable.  Looking over here, you can see a white plumbing pipe going up the wall.  You want to make sure that that's connected.  There's no loose connections.  That it's not leaking either.  That would be a vent pipe most likely for that bathroom where that exhaust fan was located.  Now I got to tell you.  Venting is supposed to go out through the roof.  We talked about that when we were in the basement. 

If it's vented into the attic space, that's just as bad as venting it into the house.  So make your way around the attic, always being careful about where you step.  Never count on something being as secure.  Feel it first and when you're done, head on out and take the appropriate notes for what you saw when you were up here.  Well, this attic gave us a good look see.  There wasn't any insulation up there which makes it a little bit easier for us as we're crawling around.  One of the things we did notice was that vent in the ceiling was a bypass in the fire barrier so we're going to certainly make note of that in our report. 

Once you get down from the attic in the garage, make sure you take your ladder down.  Make sure that, if there was an attic access cover, that you put it back on.  Unfortunately, in this situation, there was no attic access cover.  So in our report, what we're going to say is that there needs to be a fire rated cover put over the attic access.