Steven L. Smith, Bellingham, WA Home Inspector (King of the House)


Hot and Humid Attics

It must be at least half of the time, when on a home inspection, I find that the bath exhaust fans are directed into the attic space. Sometimes it is pretty obvious from the get go that this is going to be the situation: there are a couple bathrooms and no vent hoods at the roof or the exterior wall.

Other times, the inspector will see vent hoods on the roof but, from the attic view (or by feeling the vent hood with the fan running), it is readily apparent that no air is making it outside. This is usually the result of improperly connecting the duct, simply taping it to the fan outlet or the vent hood. The tape drys out and the fan ends up blowing steam into the attic. This creates prime conditions for fungal growths and mold.

Here is photo of a disconnected bath fan.

disconnected bath fan

Even if there is not presently a vent hood in the roof, this is not so difficult to fix. Have a roofer or another qualified professional repair. If the problem is simply the exhaust fan duct, well it should be held in place with a minimal number of strategically placed sheet metal screws, not duct tape. Although it might be named "duct" tape, in most cases the product is pretty lousy for attaching any ducts together. Use it, instead, to wrap around your tennis shoes when the soles are falling off.

Steven L. Smith

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Comment balloon 7 commentsSteven L. Smith • June 06 2015 07:57AM


This comes up a lot here in Vegas with builder homes, I guess you skip a few steps when you are building an entire house in 60 days during the booming times years ago.

Posted by Stefan Winter, Owner - Winter Group & Real Estate Web Tech (Real Estate in IL & NV | Owner of Real Estate Web Tech | Daily Vlogger) about 5 years ago

Stefan, I have even had builders argue that there is nothing wrong with it, gets steam out of the house, so they get ticked off with the inspection recommendation.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) about 5 years ago

Your pictures and story here, are a testament to why it is so important for homebuyers to have a home inspection.

Posted by Myrl Jeffcoat, Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent (GreatWest Realty) about 5 years ago

If it is a brand new home it would not pass code. Correct me if I am wrong. I don't like the idea of the vent fan to nowhere.

Posted by Sussie Sutton, David Tracy Real Estate for Buyers & Sellers (David Tracy Real Estate) about 5 years ago



If the code inspector figured out what was going on, it would be something they would want corrected. But the odds of a code inspector figuring that out, realizing it was a problem is pretty minimal. Often bath fans are a distance from the attic hatch and I have never seen a code inspector walk an attic or a roof. On the roof, with fans running and assuming they are working correctly, you can feel if they are blowing air by putting your hand in front of the vent hood.


Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) about 5 years ago


This has got to be one of the most often seen problems. Fortunately, usually not one that is too difficult to fix.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) about 5 years ago

My oldest made a duct tape wallet in 10th grade.  It lasted his whole high school career!

Good for that.  Not so much for anything in the attic!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago