Attic Inspection Checklist 101: What to Look For

When you’re ready to make an offer on a new home, the attic space is probably one of the last things on your mind. The same is true once you’ve moved in. A lot of people ignore their attics until there’s a reason to go up there—usually, at that point, it’s because something’s wrong. By then, an issue that may have been an easy fix has escalated into a much bigger, more expensive problem.

Regularly performing an attic inspection can save you time, money, and a big headache, although not every problem can be sussed out by the average homeowner. We want to help you keep your attic space in top condition, so we’ve created this simple attic inspection checklist. Read on to learn how to check your attic for these common problems.

6 Key Points to Check in Your Attic Inspection

The good news about attic inspections is that they can be broken down into six main problems or telltale signs. Next time you need to check your attic, use this checklist to assess whether you have a problem or need to bring in an expert.

#1 Insulation

Even if you only use your attic as a storage space, it still needs to be insulated to protect the rest of your home from heat and moisture damage. Plus, insulating your attic can save you money. On average, an insulated attic will save a homeowner 15% on their energy bill1—that easily offsets the cost of a new proper insulation over time.

If your attic is already insulated, you should inspect attic insulation to ensure it is in good condition and that the R-value—the material’s resistance to thermal heat—is up to the standard for your area. Each type of insulation will have a different R-value, and the recommended minimums vary based on the climate and temperature you live in. 

If the insulation isn’t at the right level or is falling away from the walls, it’s time for an attic ventilation and energy saving insulation upgrade.

#2 Roof

From inside your attic, you’ll often be able to spot leaks in your roof. Usually, you will see one or more of the following:

  • Water damage or water stains on the ceiling
  • Mold 
  • Dark spots or condensation on the chimney stack
  • Moisture on the floor
  • Condensation around pipes

Any of these can indicate your roof might need repairs or even a full replacement. You should take care of roof issues right away as they can quickly grow into more serious problems.

#3 Rafters and Trusses

Rafters and trusses are used to frame your house. You can check which type is in your attic by examining the frame’s construction:2

  • Rafters run from the peak of the roof down to the floor. 
  • Trusses are crafted using a vertical and horizontal structure.

Regardless of your home’s framing method, you will want to inspect the boards for damage. Look for any signs of cracking, rotting, or excess moisture each time you inspect your attic. These are serious structural problems that must be taken care of by a professional.

#4 Pests

While you may not lay eyes on any scurrying critters or pesky rodents, it’s possible to detect even the tiniest of pests if you know what to look for. Use the mnemonic device of the 4 Ds to remember what to look for:

  • Droppings – Rodents will leave droppings wherever they spend time. Check in the corners and along any creases where the roof meets the walls or floor for droppings.


  • Destruction – Anything from tears in existing insulation to holes in the wood in the attic can indicate that you have a pest problem. 


  • Debris – If you notice stray materials that can be used to make a nest, such as straw, torn pieces of fabric, or paper scraps that don’t belong in your attic, they might be leftover from a creature’s nest.
  • Dead bugs – If you have an inordinate number of dead flies, hornets, or other insects clustered in one space, there must be an easy entry point for them. Other insects will likely find the same entry point in the future.

Common attic pests include rodents, bats, flies, hornets, raccoons, and squirrels, most of which leave behind the same signs.

#5 Odors

Your eyes aren’t the only tools you have for detecting pests—your nose is a great resource, too. Pests and mold will both leave behind unpleasant odors indicating their presence. If you notice must or mildew, you’ll want to do a more careful check for droppings, nesting, and mold. Remember that attics shouldn’t naturally smell bad, even if they’re dark, unused spaces.

#6 Ventilation

Your attic should also allow for adequate ventilation to prevent moisture problems. Some signs of poor ventilation can include:

  • Mold spots
  • Rusted nails and screws
  • Condensation on surfaces

If your attic is not properly ventilated, you could end up with roof damage and higher energy bills. You should check the building codes in your area for more information on the requirements for ventilation in your attic—or, better yet, call a local professional who will have all that knowledge on hand. 

Get Help from an Expert

It can be stressful and frightening when you notice any one of these six problems in your attic. The good news is that there are people who can assist you with issues when they first appear, preventing more serious problems down the line. The professionals at Attic Construction are experts in creating safe, comfortable, and energy-efficient spaces in California and Arizona. If you need help with your attic, contact them today.


  1. Energy Star. Why Seal and Insulate?
  2. This Old House. All About Attics.

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