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Fire damage in attic was not disclosed

House Detective columnist Barry Stone writes about a situation where a home inspector neglected to check out the attic.
BY BARRY STONE Published: May 5, 2012

DEAR BARRY: When we bought our home, the inspection report said nothing about damage in the attic. This week, I was in the attic, and one entire wall is scorched wood. What can I do to hold the sellers and the home inspector responsible for not disclosing this damage?


DEAR ERIC: The sellers may have a plausible excuse for nondisclosure because the fire may have occurred before they owned the property. The home inspector, on the other hand, appears to have been negligent. Inspection of the attic is standard procedure for a home inspector, if the attic space is accessible. Since you were able to enter the attic, accessibility does not appear to have been a problem unless you had a portly home inspector. You should contact the inspector to get an explanation for this undisclosed condition.

Blackened wood from a past fire does not always mean that the wood members are significantly damaged. Therefore, further evaluation of the fire damage is recommended. You should also contact the local authorities to see if a fire report on the property was ever filed.

DEAR BARRY: I live in a split-level house, and the upper area will not stay cool no matter how long I run the air conditioner. On hot days, the unit runs almost all day. What can I do to fix this problem?


DEAR PAUL: There are a few possibilities. The first is that the air conditioner is in need of service or repair. To check this, place your hand over one of the air registers to see whether the system is producing cold air or simply recirculating the room-temperature air. Another possibility is that the unit is undersized for your home. Either of these conditions warrant attention by a licensed heating, ventilation and air-conditioning contractor.

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