Most older homes relied on gable vents to provide ventilation of the attic. Modern homes sometimes have them as well.
Proper ventilation of attics could be fodder for an endless number of blog posts, but with this one I am just going to discuss Gable Vents. This post is simply about proper maintenance of gable vents if you do have them. These vents generally have screens in them that can be damaged by birds or simply rust away over time. Obviously if there are holes in the screens, birds, bats and bees (and even rats and mice) can get into the attic.
Sometimes the presence of the screens and their condition can be seen from the exterior of the home. Most of the time inspection from inside the attic is required and is another good reason why the home inspector should traverse the attic during the inspection. Here are a couple of pictures that show typical louvered type gable vents with missing rusted out screens.
In the next picture one can see where birds have created a huge hay stack of nesting materials under the a gable vent with no screen.
Under the upper nest there was additional nesting materials All of these nesting materials can represent health and fire safety hazards and should not be allowed to accumulate in the attic.
It is important to maintain these screens to keep vermin out of the attic.
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