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  1. #1
    Jeff Eastman's Avatar
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    Default Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    Last edited by Jeff Eastman; 12-20-2007 at 06:38 AM.
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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    Insulation of any kind on the pulldown stairway face is just kind of a bonous if it happens to be there at all.

    Just as your solid wood exterior doors do not have the same R value as the wall system they penetrate, the pulldown stairway is not going to match the R value of the ceiling system it penetrates.

    You can get attic stairway covers that are insulated and help to reduce air exchange between the conditioned space and the attic but I have yet to see a builder who will install them. Its just one of those aftermarket things the homeowner has to do on their own.

    Here's one option...

    Amazon.com: Battic Door Attic Stair Cover With R-7 Insulation Kit, Fits 25" x 54" Attic Stairs. (Please see other listing for 22x54 size): Kitchen & Dining


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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    Quote Originally Posted by dan orourke View Post
    If 1" board does not meet the minimum R30 value, then it is a defect. I write it up all the time.
    Whoa Dan!

    Where is it stated that a pulldown attic stairway door face is required to have R 30 insulation?

    Do you also write up as defective solid core wooden exterior or glass doors because they do not have the same R value as the wall systems they are installed in?


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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    Good link Phillip, I usually recommend adding insulation or a cover like that along with weather stripping.

    I have yet to see a pull down stair that is insulated to R-11 much less R-30. How would that happen? What about insulated doors that lead from the second floor to the attic; they are nowhere near the overall requirment.
    I'm happy if there is a little foam weather strip and minimal insulation.
    Jim

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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    Phillip,

    Whoa there.

    I *assume* the discussion is regarding a pulldown stairs which is not in the garage, but in the living area with an insulated ceiling.

    I know of NO exception which excepts out the attic access cover from having to comply with the minimum ceiling R value for attic ceiling insulation.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    How about this out of the IRC?
    N1102.1 Thermal performance criteria. The minimum required insulation R-value....(other than opaque doors which are governed by Section N1102.1.3)....

    Section N1102.1.3 Opaque doors. Opaque doors separating conditioned and unconditioned space shall have a maximum u-facto of 0.35. One opaque door shall be permitted to be exempt from this U-factor requirement.

    I'm a little rusty on U factor conversion to R-value, does R-2.86 sound right? That would mean about an inch of fiberglass batt insulation, right?

    Jim Luttrall
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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    Jim,

    That's not a door.

    Attic access hatches (openings with covers), with their covers either laying in their trims, or, with pull-down stairs, attached to the underside of the stairs to cover the opening when the stairs is up and closed.

    Attic access hatch covers are effectively "ceiling areas", below which is the conditioned space and above which is the unconditioned attic.

    If you want to call this a "door", you will need to apply all of the requirements for "doors" to it. Then, of course, you would want those "stairs on the door" to comply with all the requirements for "stairs" too.

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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    If it is not a door, then why does it have hinges, weather stripping and door springs? It may swing on a horizontal axis, but it is certainly more of a door than a ceiling membrane.
    door (dôr, dōr) Pronunciation Key
    n.
      1. A movable structure used to close off an entrance, typically consisting of a panel that swings on hinges or that slides or rotates.


    Jim Luttrall
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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Phillip,

    Whoa there.

    I *assume* the discussion is regarding a pulldown stairs which is not in the garage, but in the living area with an insulated ceiling.

    I know of NO exception which excepts out the attic access cover from having to comply with the minimum ceiling R value for attic ceiling insulation.
    You're assumption is correct but, Wow Jerry!

    A duo of double negatives? "...NO exception which excepts out..."? Please tell me that you are not about to try and prove the negative in this case?

    Negative proof - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Last edited by Phillip Stojanik; 07-19-2007 at 01:02 AM.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    I see about 1 in 10 hatches or staiways that have any insulation at all, never mind R-30. In turn I recommend that they be insulated, and suggest possible ways for clients to keep the warm/cold air out of the attic. Here is a pic I use, and some others as well. Feel free to use them if you like.

    ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images

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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    Quote Originally Posted by Phillip Stojanik View Post
    You're assumption is correct but, Wow Jerry!

    A duo of double negatives? "...NO exception which excepts out..."? Please tell me that you are not about to try and prove the negative in this case?

    Negative proof - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Phillip,

    No double negatives there.

    *This* is what I said (except that I've added underlining for readability purposes): "I know of NO exception which excepts out the attic access cover from having to comply with the minimum ceiling R value for attic ceiling insulation."

    An 'exception' removes an item from a requirement, with no exception, the item is not removed from the requirement - thus I know of no exception ... which excepts out ... those attic access hatch covers, whether over an opening or over a pull-down stair.

    Not withstanding the not withstanding makes one withstanding?

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    Smile Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Phillip,

    No double negatives there.

    *This* is what I said (except that I've added underlining for readability purposes): "I know of NO exception which excepts out the attic access cover from having to comply with the minimum ceiling R value for attic ceiling insulation."

    An 'exception' removes an item from a requirement, with no exception, the item is not removed from the requirement - thus I know of no exception ... which excepts out ... those attic access hatch covers, whether over an opening or over a pull-down stair.

    Not withstanding the not withstanding makes one withstanding?
    You are just cracking me up here Jerry!

    It would require a room full of highly paid attorneys and an unpaid (except for parking downtown) jury to determine if either you or I actually said anything of relevance in our respective previous posts here in this thread.

    As far as code specified insulation for an attic pulldown stairway goes, I guess you and I will have to agree to disagree for about the 3rd time in...what...5 or 6 years now? All things considered that's a pretty good record and I am right there with you (about) 98.5% of the time.

    But (and you knew there was a "but" coming right? )! Let's get real rather than theoretical for just a moment.

    Insulation on, or over, a pulldown attic stairway (while a FANTASTIC idea as far as energy conservation and all concepts of building "green" are concerned) is not a current code requirement in any "authoritative" jurisdiction that I am aware of.

    In all honestly, does the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) that you personally work for these days enforce such a building code provision?

    If so, why (and what is their current code based justification for doing so)? If not, why not (and again, what is their current code based justification for doing so)?

    Thirdly, what role does the interpretation of current building code have to do with the generalist home inspector?

    Sorry for the thread drift folks but I respect Jerry's opinion enough to ask these questions. Others should feel free to weigh in as well.


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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    I still think it is "A movable structure used to close off an entrance, typically consisting of a panel that swings on hinges or that slides or rotates"
    And as such there is an exception for that in the code to depart from the required ceiling or wall insulation requirement.

    Notice I did not use the "D" word.

    Jim Luttrall
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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Luttrall View Post
    I still think it is "A movable structure used to close off an entrance, typically consisting of a panel that swings on hinges or that slides or rotates"

    And as such there is an exception for that in the code to depart from the required ceiling or wall insulation requirement.

    Notice I did not use the "D" word.

    I am with you there Jim!


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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    Quote Originally Posted by Phillip Stojanik View Post
    But (and you knew there was a "but" coming right? )! Let's get real rather than theoretical for just a moment.

    Insulation on, or over, a pulldown attic stairway (while a FANTASTIC idea as far as energy conservation and all concepts of building "green" are concerned) is not a current code requirement in any "authoritative" jurisdiction that I am aware of.

    In all honestly, does the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) that you personally work for these days enforce such a building code provision?
    Here in the Daytona Beach/Ormond Beach area and all over South Florida - insulating the attic access hatch cover is a requirement, it is considered to be just what it actually is ... "attic ceiling area".

    What code section? Why, the same one which requires a minimum of R-19 insulation on the ceiling to an unconditioned attic above.

    Replace the attic access hatch with a pull-down stair and there is no difference, which is just one of the reasons that all of the pull-down stairs I see are in the unconditioned garages.

    And, yes, if the attic insulation is R-30, then a section of R-30 batt needs to be somehow secured in place over the attic access hatch cover (yes, this is typically 'not secured in place', but it should be, otherwise, this batt is found laying 'next to' the cover instead of 'over' the cover. I've seen them attached to the covers with glue or staples (don't know what kind of glue was used for those which were glued and not stapled, though).


    Does that answer your question regarding authority and code section? What code section do you use when the attic insulation is missing at the ceiling? Apply that same code section to the ceiling area at the attic access hatch cover. Apply that same code section to the ceiling area underneath the pull-down stair (if the pull-down stair is in a conditioned space).

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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    10`3 Inch Wood Folding Attic Stairway W2210 by Werner


    • 8`9`` x 10` 4`` Height, Wood, Folding Attic Stairway, Opening Size 22-1/2`` x 54``, 250 LB Weight Capacity, For Residential Use Only, Pull String Allows For Easy Operation, Every Step Is Rodded For Strength & Durability, Full Wrap Around Door Hinge Minimizes Heat Loss, Hinges Butt Metal To Metal To Maintain Ladder Rigidity, Quality Door Ready For Staining/Painting, Fully Assembled & Ready To Install.

    I still think they qualify as a door, and apparently so does Werner, the guys who make them.

    Jim Luttrall
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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    And this is in the IBC. (underlining is mine)
    - 1008.1.4 Floor elevation.
    There shall be a floor or landing on each side of a door. Such floor or landing shall be at the same elevation on each side of the door. Landings shall be level except for exterior landings, which are permitted to have a slope not to exceed 0.25 unit vertical in 12 units horizontal (2-percent slope).

    - - Exceptions:
    - - - 1. Doors serving individual dwelling units in Groups R-2 and R-3 where the following apply:
    - - - - 1.1. A door is permitted to open at the top step of an interior flight of stairs, provided the door does not swing over the top step.
    - - - - 1.2. Screen doors and storm doors are permitted
    to swing over stairs or landings.

    Being as that "door" (as you call it) does *not* meet Exceptions 1.1 or 1.2, that Exception does not apply, leaving the requirement intact.



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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Eastman View Post
    "What code section? Why, the same one which requires a minimum of R-19 insulation on the ceiling to an unconditioned attic above".

    1) Is this code in the IRC? Can you state it for me? I really could you the code, something came up today and I'd love to have it.
    From the IRC.
    - SECTION N1102
    - - BUILDING THERMAL ENVELOPE
    - - - N1102.1 Insulation and fenestration criteria.
    The building thermal envelope shall meet the requirements of Table N1102.1 based on the climate zone specified in Table N1101.2.


    According to the IRC, the minimum attic ceiling insulation in Florida would be R-30, however, the Florida Building Code only requires a minimum attic ceiling insulation of R-19, which is why I keep saying R-19. You would need to think in terms or R-30 or greater, depending on the R value required by the table for your Climate Zone (see Figure N1101.2 or Table N1101.2, which lists states and counties and gives the Climate Zone for them.

    Also, You are refering to , for example , if an attic pulldown door is in a garage under an attic, the door cover needs to be at least insulated with R19?
    The garages I see are (for the vast majority of them) uninsulated and unconditioned, thus no insulation would be required for an attic access hatch cover, stair or no stair attached.

    1) How thick is R19? 4 inches?
    I don't recall, but the IRC says that R-19 is allowed to be compressed into a 2x6 stud cavity (see sub note 'a' for Table N1102.1). Florida allows no compression, or derating of the R value begins to take affect.

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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    J-e-f-f,

    I w-i-l-l t-a-l-k s-l-o-w-e-r.

    1) Unconditioned attic spaces above conditioned spaces need attic ceiling insulation.

    2) Unconditioned attic spaces above unconditioned spaces *do not* need attic ceiling insulation.

    Therefore, unconditioned attic spaces above unconditioned garages do not need attic ceiling insulation, nor do the attic access hatch covers, with or without a stair attached.

    Likewise, unconditioned attic spaces above conditioned living spaces do require attic ceiling insulation, as do attic access hatch covers, with or without a stair attached.

    *I* seldom (can't remember when I say the last one) pull-down stairs going from conditioned spaces to unconditioned attic spaces - *I* always see pull-down stairs in garages, which are unconditioned spaces with unconditioned attics above, and, which require no attic ceiling insulation.

    How did I do that time?

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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Here in the Daytona Beach/Ormond Beach area and all over South Florida - insulating the attic access hatch cover is a requirement, it is considered to be just what it actually is ... "attic ceiling area".

    What code section? Why, the same one which requires a minimum of R-19 insulation on the ceiling to an unconditioned attic above.

    Replace the attic access hatch with a pull-down stair and there is no difference, which is just one of the reasons that all of the pull-down stairs I see are in the unconditioned garages.

    And, yes, if the attic insulation is R-30, then a section of R-30 batt needs to be somehow secured in place over the attic access hatch cover (yes, this is typically 'not secured in place', but it should be, otherwise, this batt is found laying 'next to' the cover instead of 'over' the cover. I've seen them attached to the covers with glue or staples (don't know what kind of glue was used for those which were glued and not stapled, though).


    Does that answer your question regarding authority and code section? What code section do you use when the attic insulation is missing at the ceiling? Apply that same code section to the ceiling area at the attic access hatch cover. Apply that same code section to the ceiling area underneath the pull-down stair (if the pull-down stair is in a conditioned space).

    Bold above is mine.

    No you have not answered my question and I do not consider an appurtenance to be part of the ceiling by strict code definition be it a pulldown stairway or a UL listed recessed can light installed within a ceiling system.

    Let me rephrase my original question if I must.

    Do you (Jerry Peck) as a trusted code official down there in Florida, and as a highly trusted professional resouce (where home inspection advice is concerned), "red tag" and shut down construction projects for not having R-19 (or better) glued, screwed, or tattooed (on or over) a pulldown attic stairway that separates conditioned living space from an unconditioned attic?

    Jerry, I am really not trying to 'tag' you here. You and I have been through that more than once over the years and I do in fact have the utmost respect for you in spite of the fact you are the most bone headed person I have ever actually [not personally] met (excluding Caoimhín P. Connell who I have also not personally met [but respect]).

    I am however looking for some intellectual honesty right now so that I can maintain the respect you have previously earned from me.

    Last edited by Phillip Stojanik; 07-19-2007 at 08:15 PM.

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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    Quote Originally Posted by Warren Alderman View Post
    N1102.1.2 Ceilings. The required "Ceiling R-value" in Table N1102.1 assumes standard truss or rafter construction and shall apply to all roof/ceiling portions of the building thermal envelope, including cathedral ceilings. ....


    Notice the operative word "all".....So I would intrepret this to mean that the attic pull down ladder cover in the garage going to the attic needs to be insulated at a minimum of R13, depending on your region. (unconditioned or not). At least that is my intrepretation.
    Warren,

    You need to go back and re-read Chapter 11 from the beginning.

    Why insulated an unconditioned space? It makes no sense. The reason to insulate is to reduce the energy to condition the space. Hence ...

    From the IRC. (underlining is mine)
    - SECTION N1101
    - - GENERAL
    - - N1101.1 Scope.
    This chapter regulates the energy efficiency for the design and construction of buildings regulated by this code.

    - - - Exception:
    Portions of the building envelope that do not enclose conditioned space.

    Thus, there is *NO* requirement to insulate an unconditioned space from another unconditioned space.

    Not only is that "common sense", it is also "code".



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  22. #22
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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    The building THERMAL ENVELOPE is only words there your not taking into account....a garage un heated is NOT part of the thermal envelope therefore does not need insulation

    My two cents
    ED


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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    Quote Originally Posted by Phillip Stojanik View Post
    Let me rephrase my original question if I must.

    Do you (Jerry Peck) as a trusted code official down there in Florida, and as a highly trusted professional resouce (where home inspection advice is concerned), "red tag" and shut down construction projects for not having R-19 (or better) glued, screwed, or tattooed (on or over) a pulldown attic stairway that separates conditioned living space from an unconditioned attic?
    I thought you were asking if I knew of AHJ which required that, but I now understand you were asking about 'me'.

    Yes.

    I would ... if I found one going from conditioned space to an unconditioned attic.

    I do reject insulation inspections when there is no insulation on the attic access hatch cover, and I have a hard time getting them to 'secure' that insulation in place. The 'code' does not address 'securing it', however, the manufacturer does, sort of, but, when 'not secured in place', I have them open the cover, put it back, then I open it and show them that the cover was no longer insulated as required. I will play that game until they get the message - secure it in place, otherwise, it is 'not insulated', and I can prove it to them simply by opening the attic cover and showing them that the insulation is not still 'fully covering the attic access cover'.

    Besides, if they want to start to get nit picky, I can show them all kinds of problems with the insulation installation, and ask 'Do you want me to go there?', to which the answer is 'No.'

    Have 'you' ever seen insulation installed properly? I mean the entire attic's worth of insulation, every last piece of it? Of course not. Thus, as a contractor, you are much better off simply securing the insulation to the attic access cover and not having the inspector minutely examine the rest of the attic. As an inspector, I only have time to glance around the attic and make sure it is installed all over, and I frequently find areas missing. Unlike a home inspector, we (code inspectors) do not crawl through the attic, and, many inspectors simply look at the insulation certificate posted at the attic access opening - saying 'They certified it, they bought it if there is a problem'. Me, the home owner is paying for the lost energy for missing insulation, so I look ... from the attic access opening.

    As I stated previously, I cannot recall the last time (or even the first time - in new construction) where I have seen a pull-down stair installed in conditioned space to an unconditioned attic. I do recall (but do not remember how many years ago it was) where I found at least one pull-down stair installed in the conditioned space and going up into the attic (unconditioned space), however, back then, I did not even think about "insulation" for it. In fact, "back then" I did not even think about insulation on the attic access hatch cover either.

    You do agree that insulation *is required* to be above the attic access hatch cover, don't you?

    But, your question includes some "back then" times ...

    Thus, "back then" there were no such things as "air tight" recessed lights. They were called for in the code (not specifically as 'air tight' recessed lights, but in the air infiltration and exfiltration through ceilings sections which referred to the limitations of air around and through recessed lights), and which no one (I was but a very minor player then, even the code officials had not thought that wording or requirement through either, and, in fact, I was at the electrical seminar when this was first brought to the attention of electrical inspectors and electrical contractors in South Florida, EVERYONE - including myself - went 'What? How long has that been in the Energy Code?' and the answer was, 'Since its inception in 1983, and this is now 1996.' Since then, though, the learning curve for inspectors and contractors in attendance at that meeting went up rapidly, as did the learning curve for inspectors and contractors NOT present at that meeting - the word spread like wildfire ... 'Did you know ... ') and I mean *no one* had even realized that was a requirement.

    It was at that time that I started to expand my knowledge into the requirements of the energy codes. Which I had given little consideration to previously.

    (Shame on me ... but that was "back then" ... when only a few home inspectors were becoming concerned with "code". I became concerned about "code" when I first became a Home Inspector after having been a contractor, thus I took the SBCCI tests and got my "code" certifications back in 1990-91. Even with that "code" knowledge, the air tight recessed light requirement hit me like a ton of bricks in 1996. Again, shame on me. But learning is all about ... well ... learning new things and expanding one's horizons.)

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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    Jerry,

    I still feel like you are tap dancing around the issue but I am beginning to get a sense that this is because the building "code" is not universally accepted or interpreted. This is something I have made a point to point out here in this forum a number of times in the past.

    You (in Daytona beach Florida) and I (in Houston Texas) however live in similar climates and geological conditions. I would expect a more congruent philosophy to prevail where the building code interpretation is concerned. Apparently this is not the case. So be it!

    Pulldown attic stairways between the conditioned living space and an unconditioned attic are, in fact, VERY common in my area. Even still, I can think of exactly 2 of the approximately 10,000 residential dwelling I have personally visited [and had occasion to enter the attic] over the last 3 decades where the code required R value of the insulation met that required of the surrounding ceiling areas.

    While your own considerable experience differs from my own, I remain suitably skeptical of your opinion in this particular matter. Even still, I am glad to report that we fully agree on this (and I am quoting you here) "…learning is all about ... well ... learning new things and expanding one's horizons.)"

    While having the same R value of insulation as required for a ceiling on/over a pulldown attic stairway is a absolute FANTASTIC idea, I still can't find a local code justification that requires it nor do I see it in practice here in my local service area (which encompasses about 30 different AHJ's here on the gulf coast of Texas).

    Perhaps you would be quick to say that this is a local failing and I might even agree with you on that point. But then, aren't you the one who constantly (and rightfully) points out that the minimum building code is the crappiest level to which one should aspire? (Let me say that I agree with you on that point as well.)

    Last edited by Phillip Stojanik; 07-20-2007 at 10:14 AM.

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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    Quote Originally Posted by Phillip Stojanik View Post
    Jerry,

    I still feel like you are tap dancing around the issue
    Huh?

    I've been *VERY SPECIFIC* about it requiring insulation and that, not only would *I* call it out if I see it, but that it would be called out in other areas if that installation were to arise there.

    I certainly do not see how you can consider that "tap dancing around the issue".

    the building "code" is not universally accepted or interpreted.


    Sad to say, but that is very true.

    This is something I have made a point to point out here in this forum a number of times in the past.


    As have many of us, including myself. I give what the code states, as in this case. And, as in this case, when there is no *specific exception* (and there is not), then the rule applies.

    You (in Daytona beach Florida) and I (in Houston Texas) however live in similar climates and geological conditions. I would expect a more congruent philosophy to prevail where the building code interpretation is concerned. Apparently this is not the case. So be it!


    Consistency is nice. but seldom achieved.

    Just today I had a discussion to great length with another inspector in the same company which I work for about another very specifically addressed issue - spacing of countertop serving receptacle outlets.

    The code very specifically states "A receptacle outlet shall be installed at each wall counter space that is 300 mm (12 in.) of wider. Receptacle outlets shall be installed so that no point along the wall line is more than 600 mm (24 in.) measured horizontally from a receptacle outlet in that space.", he was arguing that a receptacle which was 30 inches from the sink met the intent of the code (long drawn out example) and I argued that, no, the intent of the code was to have a receptacle outlet within 24" of any point along the countertop, measured at the wall. Both of us based this on the fact that this is based on the short 24" long cords provided on small appliances.

    He said he would not have a problem approving that at final inspection, but told the electrician that I might be the one doing the final inspection, and he (the electrician) already knows that I would (do) have a problem with that being as it is more than 24" from the sink. His reasoning is that you could just place the appliance a littler further from the sink, and, that for that countertop space (approximately 40" long) only requires one receptacle outlet to serve it. I said that one receptacle outlet *would* serve it - IF - the outlet were properly located along the countertop, i.e., within 24" of the sink and within 24" of the other end (which makes 48" for those with slow math ).

    Thus, even the two of us did not agree, but *I* am right. (I know ... *I* *am* right in this case too.)

    Pulldown attic stairways between the conditioned living space and an unconditioned attic are, in fact, VERY common in my area. Even still, I can think of exactly 2 of the approximately 10,000 residential dwelling I have personally visited [and had occasion to enter the attic] over the last 3 decades where the code required R value of the insulation met that required of the surrounding ceiling areas.
    So, because it was never done and everyone does it that way makes it right?

    I thought we fought that fight (together, mind you) years ago and killed that beast. Just because 'everyone does it' does not make it 'right'.

    While having the same R value of insulation as required for a ceiling on/over a pulldown attic stairway is a absolute FANTASTIC idea, I still can't find a local code justification that requires it nor do I see it in practice here in my local service area (which encompasses about 30 different AHJ's here on the gulf coast of Texas).


    Again, I ask, what is your local code which requires insulation on attic ceilings?

    That is the same code which applies to the "ceiling" area of the attic access hatch cover, with or without a stair attached.

    Perhaps you would be quick to say that this is a local failing and I might even agree with you on that point.


    No, I say that slowly, with purpose.

    But then, aren't you the one who constantly (and rightfully) points out that the minimum building code is the crappiest level to which one should aspire? (Let me say that I agree with you on that point as well.)


    You are close on the wording, but it come out with the exact opposite meaning with your wording.

    Minimum building code is the crappiest one is legally allowed to get away with. Minimum building code is the "starting point", NOT what one "aspires to".

    The way you worded it implies that one 'should' aspire to minimum building code.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    Phillip,

    Question for you now.

    You are an intelligent, knowledgeable, and respected source of information here, so ...

    ... without accusing you of tap dancing around the issue, because, although you have offered some insight into your position, you have not stated specifically what you thought, nor have I asked you specifically what you think, on this issue ...

    ... until now.

    Let's say you have a house, two story, with a 20" by 30" attic access hatch cover in the upstairs hallway. This cover is one which is lifted up and slid to one side to provide access into the attic. (That will be our given.)

    Do *you* think that this attic access cover is "ceiling area" and do *you* think it requires insulation like the rest of the ceiling area?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Phillip,

    Question for you now.

    You are an intelligent, knowledgeable, and respected source of information here, so ...

    ... without accusing you of tap dancing around the issue, because, although you have offered some insight into your position, you have not stated specifically what you thought, nor have I asked you specifically what you think, on this issue ...

    ... until now.

    Let's say you have a house, two story, with a 20" by 30" attic access hatch cover in the upstairs hallway. This cover is one which is lifted up and slid to one side to provide access into the attic. (That will be our given.)

    Do *you* think that this attic access cover is "ceiling area" and do *you* think it requires insulation like the rest of the ceiling area?
    I confess I have a hard time personally thinking of the hatch itself as "ceiling area". I tend to think of it as a portal that penetrates the ceiling. This is the same way I view windows and doors in exterior walls.

    As far as insulation goes though, I do agree that a removable hatch cover should have insulation installed. I think that though because I just believe it to be a good idea and not because I see a piece of ceiling area that needs to be insulated like a ceiling when I see a hatch.

    What I see most often in the way of insulation for a hatch is not an attempt to match the ceiling insulation as far as R value goes. There may be R-25 or R-30 of blown in insulation on the ceiling but the hatch will have a piece of R-15 or maybe R-19 fiberglass bat material on top.

    I personally have never tried to argue that the hatch should be insulated as though it was "ceiling area" from a code perspective because I have never really thought of it as "ceiling area" before. The local AHJs do not seem to enforce any such thinking either and I've never questioned that because, again, I never saw what I thought of as a piece of the ceiling when I looked up and saw a hatch.

    The same is true locally of doors that access sections of the attic. The door will typically be solid core and be weather stripped as though it were a door to the exterior. Occasionally I will find such an attic door that has had some insulation stuck to it on the attic side. Most often though there will be nothing.

    I guess this all seems "normal" to me because its all I have ever seen locally. Until this thread, the concept of considering a hatch or pulldown attic stair as "ceiling area" and applying code based insulation standards to it has never entered my mind.


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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    I still think the pull down stair fits the common definition of a door. I see your point Jerry, but since the code does not address pull down stairs in specifics, we will have to disagree on this one. I must confess the landing on either side of a door is a good argument, but then since it has a temporary / dual function I think much of the standard code for a door goes out the window, especially since we know that every jurisdiction I am aware of allows the use of pull down stairs. I think there is no argument that the traditional door access with vertical hinges that leads from the conditioned area to the walk-in attic will certainly fit the definition of a door in the energy code and it is not much of a stretch to apply that standard to the horizontal access door with an attached ladder.

    In any case, the point of agreements are that there needs to be weather stripping and insulation on any door, access hatch, or pull- down stair. The only disagreement is the amount of insulation required.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Dallas, Texas

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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Luttrall View Post
    but then since it has a temporary / dual function
    It's not "temporary", it's considered "permanent".

    Also, it serves one purpose: as a stair to the attic. Like any "door" (your term, not mine), it has two positions: *open* and *closed*.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    Quote Originally Posted by Phillip Stojanik View Post
    I confess I have a hard time personally thinking of the hatch itself as "ceiling area". I tend to think of it as a portal that penetrates the ceiling.
    What it it were 10' by 20'? You would still considered it 'not to be ceiling area'?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    What it it were 10' by 20'? You would still considered it 'not to be ceiling area'?
    I confess I am now having a hard time envisioning an attic hatch on that scale. I do not think I would consider something that size to be a hatch in the same since I consider a 20" by 30" attic scuttle hole with a cover to be a hatch. But I am not sure I would think of it as a ceiling either.

    Something 10' by 20' conjures up a mental image for me of an overhead cargo bay door or an access to a ship's cargo hold and not something I would expect to find separating residential living space from an overhead attic.

    While I think we should keep the examples more realistic I will concede that the bigger the "hatch" the greater the need to up the ante on whatever insulation the situation might otherwise be calling for.

    Please don't get me wrong, I am not at all against insulating an attic access hatch and have no problem with insulating it to the same degree as ceiling space. Where I am stumbling here is with a code justification for doing so. I have not yet been able to make the of leap of faith that a hatch cover is considered to be ceiling space from a strict code perspective. Pephaps I am just being too literal?

    If I were personally aware of any code local jurisdiction that said otherwise, then the concept would not feel so foreign to me. Perhaps we should run this conumdrum past the guys at the ICC discussion forum? I will certainly stand to be corrected if I am out in left field on this!


    OK, I posts a synopsis of our debate over at ICC. Here's the link if anyone wants to follow the topic there... ICC Bulletin Board: An issue of insulation and attic access.

    Last edited by Phillip Stojanik; 07-21-2007 at 04:54 PM. Reason: Added the ICC link

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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    It's not "temporary", it's considered "permanent".
    Jerry, it is not permanently open as a fixed stairway.
    Yes, it is permanent since it is attached to the structure.

    Also, it serves one purpose: as a stair to the attic. Like any "door" (your term, not mine), it has two positions: *open* and *closed*.
    But it does have a dual function, when open it is a stairway providing access to the attic and when closed it functions as any closed door to seal the access portal.
    The dual function is a stair and a door. Two functions with one apperatus.


    But I reiterate:

    In any case, the points of agreement are that there needs to be weather stripping and insulation on any door, access hatch, or pull- down stair. The only disagreement is the amount of insulation required.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Dallas, Texas

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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    Quote Originally Posted by Phillip Stojanik View Post
    I confess I am now having a hard time envisioning an attic hatch on that scale. I do not think I would consider something that size to be a hatch in the same since I consider a 20" by 30" attic scuttle hole with a cover to be a hatch. But I am not sure I would think of it as a ceiling either.
    Okay, and I know you knew this was coming, all I did was change the size from minimum sized to very large, so ... Just what size does that transition from 'something besides ceiling' to 'ceiling'?

    20" by 48"

    20" by 60"

    42" by 48"

    you tell me???

    Please don't get me wrong, I am not at all against insulating an attic access hatch and have no problem with insulating it to the same degree as ceiling space. Where I am stumbling here is with a code justification for doing so. I have not yet been able to make the of leap of faith that a hatch cover is considered to be ceiling space from a strict code perspective. Pephaps I am just being too literal?
    I guess it depends on your answer to the above question and the justification you are using to make that size determination.

    I ask, again (and in different words, hoping to get an answer), show me something in the code which designates attic access hatch covers as 'something other than ceiling area'.

    You are trying to find a definitive code which says *it is* ceiling area, so I ask, find one which definitively states *it is not* ceiling area.

    If I were personally aware of any code local jurisdiction that said otherwise, then the concept would not feel so foreign to me. Perhaps we should run this conumdrum past the guys at the ICC discussion forum? I will certainly stand to be corrected if I am out in left field on this!
    Looking forward to the answer.

    OK, I posts a synopsis of our debate over at ICC. Here's the link if anyone wants to follow the topic there... ICC Bulletin Board: An issue of insulation and attic access.
    I tried to login, but I have not logged in for quite some time and forgot my login, I tried to find it but it did not even recognize my email address (and I have no idea which one I used back then). Oh well, post a link when you get some replies. Maybe I'll re-register.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Luttrall View Post
    Jerry, it is not permanently open as a fixed stairway.
    Yes, it is permanent since it is attached to the structure.
    Which makes it "permanent".

    But it does have a dual function, when open it is a stairway providing access to the attic and when closed it functions as any closed door to seal the access portal.
    The dual function is a stair and a door. Two functions with one apperatus.
    No, the part you are talking about has but one use - a "door". It is the same object, and in the same need of insulation, whether or not a stair is attached to it.

    We are discussing the "cover" (your term is "door").

    The only disagreement is the amount of insulation required.
    Correct.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    Jerry,

    I think I have found at least part of the code answer I have assumed to exist but could not readily put my finger on initially.

    I have been looking through the energy code; specifically at the definitions of "Conditioned Space, Roof Assembly", "Thermal Transmittance", and "Opaque Areas". Then read in relavent parts of chapters 5 and 8.

    Following is just some of what I have found; this is from the 2003 IECC. (the Energy Code).

    Lets start with the "Scope" from chapter 5.

    "501.1 Scope.
    Residential buildings or portions thereof that enclose
    conditioned space shall be constructed to meet the requirements
    of this chapter." [look up "conditioned space" in the code definitions]

    That's a very good code based starting point but let's move on and look up other code defintions as needed where Interchangeability, Terms defiend in other codes and Terms not defined are concerned...This is where we will discover the admitted shortcommings in the current code.

    502.2.1 Compliance by performance on an individual component basis.
    Each component of the building envelope shall meet the provisions of Table 502.2 as provided in Sections 502.2.1.1 through 502.2.1.6.

    Moving on further still...


    "502.2.1.2 Roof/ceiling

    The combined thermal transmittance value (
    Uo) of the gross area of the roof or ceiling assembly shall not exceed the value given in Table 502.2. Equation 5-5 shall be used to determine acceptable combinations to meet this requirement."

    [And then later down in chapter 5...]

    "…(2) Access doors or hatches in a roof/ceiling assembly shall be included as a subelement of the roof/ceiling assembly." [The bold in the above is mine.]

    Here’s my current postulate based on what I have been reading within the code along with your recent comments on the subject;

    The combined (or overall) thermal characteristics of the roof/ceiling assembly has to meet a certain criteria by code definition. Attic access doors and hatches are indeed considered to be subelements of the roofing/ceiling assembly yet they do enter into the overall equation (but only as a individual compoent of the oveall system.

    lets move on then...

    502.2.1 Compliance by performance on an individual
    component basis.
    Each component of the building envelope
    shall meet the provisions of Table 502.2 as provided in
    Sections 502.2.1.1 through 502.2.1.6.

    ; the value of which would be tempered by the size of the attic access doors or hatches as they relate to the overall roof/ceiling assembly).

    If the combined thermal characteristic of the roof/ceiling assembly falls short of the required criteria by some small amount, that deficit could possibly be made up by better insulating/sealing the attic access doors and/or hatches.

    This is less important when the access hatch is a single 20" by 30" but would admittedly be much more relevant if it happened to be a hypothetical 10’ by 20’.

    That is the adverse side. Lets now look hypothetically at the obverse side of that same coin.

    If the combined thermal characteristic of the roof/ceiling assembly does not fall short of the code requirements where Thermal Transmittance is concerned, and such does meet (or exceed) the required criteria in that regard without any insulation on/over the subelement access doors or hatches at all, then nothing at all would be required to be added on or over those access doors or hatches from a code perspective. (Unless the local AHJ happens to have exercised some permited priviledge othewise.)

    There is however some added value to be had in going ahead and insulating any and all subelements in theroof/ceiling assembly even thought it may not be required by strict code definition on a case by case basis.



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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    Here is a doc. I've used in reports for a while.

    http://www.southface.org/web/resourc...tticaccess.pdf

    badair http://www.adairinspection.com Garland, TX 75042 TREC # 4563
    Commercial-Residential-Construction-EIFS-Infrared Thermography
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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    Quote Originally Posted by Phillip Stojanik View Post
    "501.1 Scope.


    Residential buildings or portions thereof

    Phillip,


    I am aware of those sections, however, your use of "portions thereof" to separate out small ceiling areas from other ceiling areas is not what is stated or meant.

    This is what is stated and meant: Let's assume you have a (for simplicity) two story house with 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 3 closets, and 1 hallway on the second floor, all of which are "conditioned space" and all of which have the attic above them.

    A "closet" is a "portion thereof", a "bedroom" is a "portion thereof", a "bathroom" is a "portion thereof", a "hallway" is a "portion thereof". An arbitrary area in the ceiling with a wood frame around it is not a "portion thereof" in that meaning.

    An example of this would be:

    - N1101.1 Scope.
    This chapter regulates the energy efficiency for the design and construction of buildings regulated by this code.

    - - Exception:



    Portions of the building envelope that do not enclose conditioned space.


    An arbitrary area in the ceiling with a wood frame around it is (yes, *is*), technically a "portion thereof" when trying to make sure that all areas are included, as an example: Table N1102.1


    TABLE N1102.1
    INSULATION AND FENESTRATION REQUIREMENTS BY COMPONENT
    CLIMATE_|_CEILING
    _ZONE___|__R-VALUE
    ___1____ | ___30___


    Meaning 'all portions of' that "ceiling" area.









    Last edited by Jerry Peck; 07-22-2007 at 06:07 AM.
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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    Great document Barry.
    Thanks for posting.
    That will save me time explaining the how to and why.
    Jim

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Dallas, Texas

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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Phillip,




    I am aware of those sections, however, your use of "portions thereof" to separate out small ceiling areas from other ceiling areas is not what is stated or meant.
    Um...Jerry?

    The term "portions thereof" you are criticizing within this context is not my term but is rather the exact language straight out of the code book.

    Please read my quoted post again. I know it contains a number of spelling errors and probably some grammatical errors as well but it is factually based and understandable enough to be of relevance here.


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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Luttrall View Post
    Great document Barry.
    Thanks for posting.
    That will save me time explaining the how to and why.
    Jim
    Jim,

    You're welcome.

    I always like the KISS rule.

    badair http://www.adairinspection.com Garland, TX 75042 TREC # 4563
    Commercial-Residential-Construction-EIFS-Infrared Thermography
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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    No, the part you are talking about has but one use - a "door". It is the same object, and in the same need of insulation, whether or not a stair is attached to it.
    Now Jerry, I know you are good at debate and have a grasp on the facts, but to tell ME what I am talking about is a bit of a stretch even for you.

    I was talking about the entire element of a pull-down stair way, not just the door. My point for doing so was to point out that by the very nature of its DUAL function as both a stairway and door it does not fit in a neat little box that the code addresses in specifics. If a code addressed a pulldown stairway in specifics, then this entire discussion would be moot.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Dallas, Texas

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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    Quote Originally Posted by BARRY ADAIR View Post
    Jim,

    You're welcome.

    I always like the KISS rule.
    Barry,

    I prefer Occam's razor over the KISS rule. It just "feels" more formal!

    And yes...a very good link that you posted as Jim said!


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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    Just so everyone knows. I ended up deleting the thread I started on the ICC forum regarding this issue. It got very childish very quickly over there which is something I was not expecting.

    It was probably my own fault but it was easier to delete the thread there than try and fix the problem at that point since it had gotten off topic and way too personal right off the bat.

    I guess that I ultimately prefer to get slapped around by folks I know and respect here rather then get blindly kicked in the crotch by total strangers over there!

    I can also see now why Jerry does not frequent that forum enough to have to remember his password! By the time I get the urge to go there again I expect I will have forgotten mine!


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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    [quote=Phillip Stojanik;12621]Um...Jerry?

    The term "portions thereof" you are criticizing within this context is not my term but is rather the exact language straight out of the code book.[/quote]

    Um ... Phillip,

    I know.

    I am not commenting on the "term" itself, but (if you read my post) your application of the term to *a portion of the ceiling in a given room* .

    You may want to go back and re-read my post, then you should be able to understand what I was commenting on - *your use* of that term.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Luttrall View Post
    Now Jerry, I know you are good at debate and have a grasp on the facts, but to tell ME what I am talking about is a bit of a stretch even for you.
    Jim,
    I'm only basing my statements on what YOU said. To wit: (underlining and larger type size are mine)
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Luttrall View Post
    But I reiterate:

    In any case, the points of agreement are that there needs to be weather stripping and insulation on any door, access hatch, or pull- down stair. The only disagreement is the amount of insulation required.


    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    Quote Originally Posted by Phillip Stojanik View Post
    I can also see now why Jerry does not frequent that forum enough to have to remember his password! By the time I get the urge to go there again I expect I will have forgotten mine!
    So ... no need for me to re-register?



    Well ... did *anything* of use come out of that discussion?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    Yep... Badair posted a nice pdf file.


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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    [quote=Jerry Peck;12637]
    Quote Originally Posted by Phillip Stojanik View Post
    Um...Jerry?

    The term "portions thereof" you are criticizing within this context is not my term but is rather the exact language straight out of the code book.[/quote]

    Um ... Phillip,

    I know.

    I am not commenting on the "term" itself, but (if you read my post) your application of the term to *a portion of the ceiling in a given room* .

    You may want to go back and re-read my post, then you should be able to understand what I was commenting on - *your use* of that term.

    How about my use of "…(2) Access doors or hatches in a roof/ceiling assembly shall be included as a subelement of the roof/ceiling assembly." ?

    The above refers to access doors and hatches specifically when making the mathematical calculation regarding "The combined thermal transmittance value (Uo) of the gross area of the roof or ceiling assembly..." In other words they must be considered when making the calculation.

    The greater implication however is that a roof/ceiling assembly has to meet an overall or "combined thermal transmittance value" in order to be considered in compliance from a code perspective.

    My contention is that IF the combined thermal transmittance value of the roof/ceiling assembly (as a whole) meets the calculated requirements; then a deminimus subelement such an access hatch may go under-insulated or even un-insulate and still not take the overall value being sought out of code compliance.

    This, of course, would be much less likely to be the case using your 10' by 20' access hatch than it would when considering a typical 20" by 30" attic access hatch.

    In my opinion, this is a logical justification for a code authority to not mandate that access hatches and pulldown stairways be insulated exactly like other elements of the roof/ceiling assembly.

    Once again, I personally think that insulation over an attic access hatch or pulldown stairway is a fantastic idea, having it match the R-value of the remainder of the roof/ceiling assembly is a very reasonable and logical choice to be made by an individual (or even a code authority if they chose to tighten up on the minimum code within their jurisdiction).

    What I can not do however is find any specific language that mandates insulation for attic access hatches and pulldown attic stairways in the minimum building code as printed. Maybe its there but I have not seen it and no one has been able to point it out to me as yet.


  49. #49
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    Default Re: Attic Pull down ladder door panel - insulation

    Phillip, not wanting to revive and beat a dead horse more, but I read a portion of the energy code and found the same bit you referenced 502.2.1.2 note "(2) Access doors or hatches in a roof/ceiling assembly shall be included as a subelement of the roof/ceiling assembly".
    Which I think on further reflection does indeed answer your question (just not as tidy as I would like it)
    What I can not do however is find any specific language that mandates insulation for attic access hatches and pull-down attic stairways in the minimum building code as printed. Maybe its there but I have not seen it and no one has been able to point it out to me as yet.
    In this one foot note, the energy code does mandate that the access door or hatch be included in the insulation equation of the ceiling. The bigger the area, the more weight it carries. The door or hatch would not technically require the same insulation level as the rest of the ceiling, but it must be factored into the equation. Simplest way is to insulate it to the same level as required by the rest of the ceiling in order not to pull down the overall rating.
    The same energy code does not call for insulating vertical walls at attic spaces at the same level of insulation as ceilings though, and does not call for these doors to be insulated at the same level as the wall. These doors would be excepted as any other exterior door.

    Thanks for your help on this issue.
    Jim

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Dallas, Texas

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