As a fisherman I have heard a fish grow from the water to the dock. That 12 inch bass that was caught and released becomes closer 20 inches by the end of the day. These kinds of fish tales are thought of as amusing and generally accepted as harmless embellishments. In the world of tournament fishing, it's called cheating and can land the angler in hot water. Punishments can range from mild, disqualification, to severe, arrest, fines and jail time.
I occasionally find what I would call fisherman's tactics in the houses I inspect. Often the responsible party has long left the dock, gone on to another honey hole. The homeowner is left with the what amounts to the stink of dead fish.
Popping my head into the attic during a recent thermal imaging inspection on a newer house, I immediately was suspicious of the insulation. Looking over the blanket of white blown fiberglass, the surface was wavy and uneven like waves on a pond. Around the attic entry the insulation was obviously high, looking like a swell set to break on the beach. Looking across the sea of insulation something caught my eye at the very end of the attic. Pulling myself in, I made my way towards the object.
Using the rafters like stepping stones across a brook, I finally arrived at my destination, the insulation gauge set by the installers. Oddly I saw just this one. Typically there are at least two set. This one was placed as far from the attic opening as possible.
What was also strange, I was able to easily wend my way over to gauge, since the ceiling framing was, for all intents, easily distinguishable through the thin layer of insulation. The gauge said there was 15 inches of insulation, the required R -38. My tape measure said there was 8 inches around the opening, with about 4 to 6 inches here at the gauge.
Pulling the gauge from the insulation like a fish from a pond, the cheat was revealed. The installer had bent the gauge at the 10.5 inch mark. The required depth is 15 inches. This attic is grossly under insulated. Instead of R 38, the depth is equivalent to about an R 11.
This is a very well conceived method to cheat on the amount of insulation put down. Pile it up around the entry and place a single bent gauge as far from the point of view as physically possible.
The whole thing stinks like day old fish left in the sun.