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inspection issues with venting


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Hi,

my home was built in 1987 and we had an inspection recently since we are selling the home. the inspector said that since my bath exhaust fans vented directly to the attic that they were not to code....

I am guessing that in 1987 bath fans were allowed via code to vent to the attic. I am in Georgia.

Does anyone here know?

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The problem is the fans are dumping the moisture from the bathrooms into the attic and not to the outside. This is an item that should be corrected. I have seen other homes in Georgia, homes less than 10 years old, where that has been done and found nice little sections of mold and fungus where they are venting. Some things, whether they were permissible or not when the home was built, just need to be corrected and this is one of them.

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Hi,

my home was built in 1987 and we had an inspection recently since we are selling the home. the inspector said that since my bath exhaust fans vented directly to the attic that they were not to code....

I am guessing that in 1987 bath fans were allowed via code to vent to the attic. I am in Georgia.

Does anyone here know?

I don't know what code GA was under in 1987 and I'm not very familiar with the codes used in the south anyway. That said, the CABO code was silent on where to terminate bath fans in 1986, but by the 1989 edition, it said that they "shall be vented directly to the outside." Unfortunately, many building departments interpreted the attic space to be "outside" the dwelling. You'll find that it was a very common practice to dump bathroom air into attics.

Over time, we learned that this is not a good practice and that it can cause trouble - particularly so if you add insulation to the attic. So, even in an older house, home inspectors will generally recommend improving the bath venting so as to prevent problems in the future.

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The problem is the fans are dumping the moisture from the bathrooms into the attic and not to the outside. This is an item that should be corrected. I have seen other homes in Georgia, homes less than 10 years old, where that has been done and found nice little sections of mold and fungus where they are venting. Some things, whether they were permissible or not when the home was built, just need to be corrected and this is one of them.

I have never seen an attic problem resulting from venting a bath fan to an attic in the Atlanta area, regardless of the age of the home. The older homes have so many air exchanges that it does not matter and the attics in newer homes have so much volume and ventilation that it does not matter.

In response to the kind poster from Georgia that asked our option concerning his or hers dilemma about selling a home I will offer the following advice. If this issue is the only item preventing the sell of your home you should repair it as soon as possible.

A handy man can quickly vent the fans and the buyer will be happy that some corrective action was taken. Show the buyer a receipt, go to the closing and sell your home.

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I'm in Arkansas, with a climate not too dissimilar from that found in Georgia. It is common practice here to vent exhaust fans into the attic. In most cases I don't see that any harm has been caused. However, I have seen problems where the discharge point is just a few inches below the roof deck near the soffit line. Dumping all of that concentrated moisture in an area like that where there is less air to dissipate it before it hits wood isn't smart.

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It has to do with climate too. Many homes here have them discharging into the attic with no consequences. Only when combined with an unventilated attic and low pitch roof does it sometimes lead to condensation and mold issues on AC ductwork and ceiling registers.

Not much difference in climate between Louisiana and Atlanta.

Marc

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In the South a hot steamy bathroom probably has the same RH as the air in the attic! In 18 years of inspecting homes in South and Deep South I can't recall finding a major problem from bathroom vents venting into the attic as long as that attic had good ventilation.

When I lived un MS, most of the AHJ's said it was OK to vent into the attic as long as the vent fan had an exhaust pipe sticking 3' or more above the insulation. Most stopped allowing this back around 2004 and started requiring the vent to terminate through the roof, soffit or sidewall on new construction.

I still note if the fan vents to the attic and tell my clients it should vent to the exterior.

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The original question does not state where the bath exhaust fans terminate in the attic. Just that they vented directly to the attic. Last I knew, the inside of the roof deck and the soffit area were part of the attic.

Download Attachment: icon_gif.gif APDC1999.gif

194.15?KB

In looking at your photo I also wonder what your point is. What I see is some rot damage to the very bottom edge of OSB roof decking in an area NOT particularly close to the vent discharge. I also see some water stains to the rafter tail and blocking for the soffit. The staining is at the edge directly behind where the original fascia board was. I say "original fascia board" because the fascia board in place has obviously been replaced. There's no water staining on it although there would be if it were subject to the same moisture source that the other adjacent components were. I also noted that the roofing nails near the flexible vent (which presumably comes from a bathroom) don't have even a hint of rust on them. If moisture discharged from the bath exhaust vent was the culprit there would be some rust on these nails, right? I think what your photo really shows is either a situation where the shingle overhang was inadequate, improper shingle installation was an issue, or overflowing gutters created a problem. It clearly isn't an issue of bath vent moisture problems.
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The original question does not state where the bath exhaust fans terminate in the attic. Just that they vented directly to the attic. Last I knew, the inside of the roof deck and the soffit area were part of the attic.

Download Attachment: icon_gif.gif APDC1999.gif

194.15?KB

In looking at your photo I also wonder what your point is. What I see is some rot damage to the very bottom edge of OSB roof decking in an area NOT particularly close to the vent discharge. I also see some water stains to the rafter tail and blocking for the soffit. The staining is at the edge directly behind where the original fascia board was. I say "original fascia board" because the fascia board in place has obviously been replaced. There's no water staining on it although there would be if it were subject to the same moisture source that the other adjacent components were. I also noted that the roofing nails near the flexible vent (which presumably comes from a bathroom) don't have even a hint of rust on them. If moisture discharged from the bath exhaust vent was the culprit there would be some rust on these nails, right? I think what your photo really shows is either a situation where the shingle overhang was inadequate, improper shingle installation was an issue, or overflowing gutters created a problem. It clearly isn't an issue of bath vent moisture problems.

Or, conditions had been so bad from accumulated moisture that they had to tear into that area and rebuild it, still not fixing the duct end, and the nails and such haven't had enough time yet to get rusted or discolored.

It really doesn't matter whether you see it causing an issue or not. If the best minds in building science are saying that all that moisture should be vented to the outside, you should listen; because if things go bad you can bet that the lawyer representing the person suing you will be able to find out in ten minutes on the net that those should have been vented outside and one of those building science experts is liable to end up testifying against you at trial. Don't be knuckleheads.

If your excuse for allowing a wrong condition to continue is, "I've never seen it be a problem here," than what happens when your customer goes to sell years later and some other inspector goes in there, sees that it wasn't done right, and reports it as an issue, and also reports problems caused by those wrong conditions?

I'll tell you what happens; you've just trashed your reputation. The client might take it on the chin, pay to fix things and sell his/her house and never bother to call to let you know you screwed up - but he or she will be calling someone else next time and letting others know why they shouldn't be hiring you.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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