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It Can Happen To Me

I have been living in my home for a number of years now and really don’t have any reason to go up in my attic.  I would need to get a ladder out and set it up in the middle of my hallway and access the attic through a small door in the ceiling.  But one day I came to the conclusion after doing my job for a number of years that it was time that I perform a visual inspection to see what’s going on.  I dragged my feet for years.  Now was the time.

And what I found shocked me.

I discovered dark stains on the north side sheathing of my attic (See Photo #1).  These stains surrounded several roofing nails on this side.  This is especially concerning because my bathroom exhaust is located in this area and I noticed that the bathroom duct was not properly connected to the outdoors (See Photo #2).  It is highly likely that humid air from the bathroom is hitting this attic wall to create condensation.  With this condensation, we have the distinct possibility that the dark stains are mold growth.

Photo #1 – Stains on attic sheathing

Photo #2 – Improperly connected duct


I am sure that I will be writing about how we will respond to this in the future.  However, if this new discovery will teach me anything, it will be a new found sense of greater empathy for those who encounter this exact same problem.  So please take my advice as we start to go into this winter season.  Poke your head into your attic space and examine your attic walls to see if there are any stains or water damage.  Check to see if your bathroom exhaust is properly connected to the outdoors.  If your attic has a wood floor, examine if there are dark spots on the flooring that might indicate water dripping from the roofing nails.  And most importantly, don’t do what I did and put it off.  Regularly checking your attic (even if there were no problems in the past) will save you a load of headaches later.  Trust me, it can happen to me.

Ian Cull

Ian Cull is a nationally recognized expert in the field of indoor air quality. He is the Chief Science Officer of Indoor Science, a company he started in 2004. He speaks around the world on air quality topics and is a training provider of the Indoor Air Quality Association. Mr. Cull is a Licensed Professional Engineer (PE) and Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH). His degree is in Environmental Engineering from the University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign. Mr. Cull has developed 50 air quality related courses for the IAQA University and is the author of the book, “Fundamentals of Mold Remediation”. In his words… “Besides being passionate about indoor air quality, I enjoy cycling, music, the Chicago Bulls, and having fun with my three kids.”