Up Up And Away! ...Scuttle Hatches........Part 3: Insulation as Air Filter

By
Home Inspector with Aspect Inspection

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Up Up And Away! ...Scuttle Hatches........Part 3: Insulation as Air Filter

This is something that I see quite regularly. Most people forget that the modern attic is not a storage area of the home. It is a structural service area and is a cold zone. It is outside the thermal envelope of the home. For all intents and purposes it IS outside the home (It's just rain sheltered.)

So what does this mean to home owners. Unfortunately, from the evidence I've seen, to a great many, it doesn't mean a thing.

Why do I say that?  What evidence an I seeing?

Well, consider what's shown in the photo above. Yes, it's an open attic hatchway with the ladder positioned and prepared for the inspection.

Already, I haven't even entered the attic yet, but I can see evidence of a chronic problem

I can see the hatch which is well made of a solid board with rigid insulation glued on it. This is a good detail because it means that when the hatch cover is in the closed position, the hatch area itself is sure to be insulated.

Now look at the other insulation. The fiberglass. The colour. (Originally it was a bright yellow.) Doesn't it remind you of a furnace  or car air filter? That's because it is working just like one.

That means there is a constant air flow up arround the hatch to the out side. That's air that you've paid for. No you didn't buy the air but you paid to heat it or cool and filter it.

So that represents money leaving, 'Up up and away'.

If that were happening at a window or door you'd soon be fixing that! So just like all the other openings to the outside it must have effective weatherstriping and latches to keep it closed.


Now please consider this:

If a fire or other source of smoke and/or gas originates in this room, most of the time, it is going to go right out the attic hatch. It will not set off the smoke detector untill much later, maybe only when it is too late.

 

 

 

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  1. Dan Edward Phillips 06/27/2011 01:31 PM
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Topic:
ActiveRain Community
Location:
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Home Inspections
Localism - Business in Quebec
Professional Home Inspectors
Property Inspection Discussion
Tags:
scuttle hatches
attic hatch
weatherstriping
latching hardware
heat loss
smoke detector bypass
home inspection montreal

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Rainmaker
579,926
Dan Edward Phillips
Realtor and Broker/Owner
Dan Edward Phillips

Good evening Robert, an excellent observation, the insulation color, that I will remember.  And you have a very good point on the hatch in the event of a fire.

 

Outstanding post.

June 26, 2011 12:22 AM
Rainmaker
1,190,675
Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366
General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage
Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366

I think its funny that you can find problems even before you get started. You seem to be very "situationally aware". Not all people have that ability Robert.

June 26, 2011 02:53 AM
Ambassador
1,068,975
Charles Buell
Seattle Home Inspector
Charles Buell Inspections Inc.

Robert, and that fiberglass makes a pretty good filter at that.  One can find those black markings of air movement often at that location for sure.

June 26, 2011 09:00 AM
Rainer
170,105
Robert Butler
Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection
Aspect Inspection

Yes Dan, the possibility of the smoke detector to be bypassed or made less functional is very serious.

Hi Tom. As inspectors we se things. Other people look too but we are there to think through what we see.

Yes Charley those markings are a 'tell' for air movement no matter where you find them.

June 26, 2011 09:16 AM
Anonymous #5
Anonymous
Anonymous

I think out of 11,000+ inspections, I might have found an insulated cover maybe 10 times. It just doesn’t happen down here. I even sometimes find that cover gone completely, making it easier for the homeowners to get in and out of the attic. I suppose so.

June 27, 2011 12:34 AM
Rainer
170,105
Robert Butler
Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection
Aspect Inspection

Wow, no cover at all. That's like having a window open all the time. Must be expensive.

June 27, 2011 08:36 AM
Rainmaker
1,044,904
Robert (Bob) Gilbert
Your Katy TX Real Estate Expert
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Anderson Properties

Thanks for the post and safety warning concerning a potential fire. I will have to llok at our attic this evening.. I saw Dan's re-blog.. 

June 27, 2011 01:41 PM
Rainer
170,105
Robert Butler
Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection
Aspect Inspection

It's definately a condition worth proper up keep Robert. The best new ones I've seen are metal with magnetic weatherstrip sealer like fridge doors. When they are closed you know there are no leaks.

June 27, 2011 08:53 PM
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Rainer
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Robert Butler

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