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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Daniel Island, SC.
    Posts
    230

    Default Scuttlehole access to the attic.

    Not sure this is correct in new construction or for that matter old construction. Looked it up in the code book and it is not reallly definitive there either.

    This house had the access to the attic over the top of the stairs coming from the basement area to the 1st level. I had to get a 24' ladder to get in. Not sure how you would remove the air handler installed up there in the future. But I am looking at it as more of a safety concern for people going up there. The owner said she wanted it where it could not be seen and had the contractor install there. The house got a CO so maybe it flies.

    Any thoughts or comments?

    Jim

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Lake Barrington, IL
    Posts
    1,363

    Default Re: Scuttlehole access to the attic.

    It's like the people who want the grading to come up to the base of the siding so that the foundation can't be seen or to have the indoor humidity sky high in the winter. Providing for proper access or function is way beyond their comprehension.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Chicago, IL
    Posts
    2,797

    Default Re: Scuttlehole access to the attic.

    I'm not aware of any requirement for *practical* access other than opening size and minimum headroom above the access. Heck, I'm just happy if I can *find* the access at some of the funky rehabs and flips around here.

    Had one recently an older property with no access visible. The listing broker happen to stop by, and she happened to know that was behind a fiberglass medallion painted to match the rest of the ceiling and velcroed in place.

    The opening was 10x14" but I did manage to stick my head and then a camera up there, the attic was a spider-web of energize knob and tube, with a half-dozen crack rafters supported by a failing improvised support.

    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    26,248

    Default Re: Scuttlehole access to the attic.

    From the 2006 IRC (because the 2006 would more likely be the applicable code) - underlining and bold are mine,
    - M1305.1.3 Appliances in attics. Attics containing appliances requiring access shall have with an opening and a clear and unobstructed passageway large enough to allow removal of the largest appliance, but not less than 30 inches (762 mm) high and 22 inches (559 mm) wide and not more than 20 feet (6096 mm) long when measured along the centerline of the passageway from the opening to the appliance. The passageway shall have continuous solid flooring in accordance with Chapter 5 not less than 24 inches (610 mm) wide. A level service space at least 30 inches (762 mm) deep and 30 inches (762 mm) wide shall be present along all sides of the appliance where access is required. The clear access opening dimensions shall be a minimum of 20 inches by 30 inches (508 mm) by 762 mm), where such dimensions are large enough to allow removal of the largest appliance.
    - Exceptions:
    - - 1. The passageway and level service space are not required where the appliance can be serviced and removed through the required opening.
    - - 2. Where the passageway is unobstructed and not less than 6 feet (1829 mm) high and 22 inches (559 mm) wide for its entire length, the passageway shall be not more than 50 feet (15 250 mm) long.

    If there was a landing at the top of the basement stairs (you did not say there was, and the implication was that there was not), then there should not be a problem, however, with no landing there, the to bold and underlined sections above both refer to allowing removal of the largest appliance, thus while the code language does not specifically state that access must be provided which allows removal of the appliance from the opening down (the code is specifically addressing removal of the appliance "through" the "opening"), the intent and implication is that one will not be required to sit or stand there forever holding the appliance, that there must be access to continue removing the appliance from the opening to the access surface (floor, landing, etc.) below the opening.

    With no access surface below the opening, there will be no "removal" of the appliance, and thus the code would not be met.

    This is one of those things where the code does not address stupidity or lack of common sense, because ... well, because no one is stupid enough to do it that way - (except that you know differently because you found it that way).

    My opinion is that the above code section does require "access" to the opening and that such "access" shall allow for safe removal of the appliance through the opening and down to the floor, then to outdoors.


    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Southern Vancouver Island
    Posts
    4,546

    Default Re: Scuttlehole access to the attic.

    I see them there in the old pre-70's houses. I get up by setting the Telesteps on the stairs, down a step or two, then up the ladder. If the ladder ever collapsed it would probably be the end of my inspecting career. I agree it is an incredibly stupid place for an access hatch.

    To remove the air handler, you could build a deck over the stairwell like a temporary landing. Maybe I could do the same, a table with one set of legs?

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    2,365

    Default Re: Scuttlehole access to the attic.

    Must be the week for this type of thing. I had one yesterday in a new 4700q home where the attic access was in the crapper closet. And, of course, there was a furnace in the attic. I banged my ladder around every which way and couldn't get it setup to where I could get in (The crapper room is maybe 4X6 feet at best).

    I could only setup my folding 4-segment ladder as a 6' step and peer inside. Inadequate service platform, overhead clearance at the hatch was barely 30" (very low sloped roof) and had just the flimsy OSB insulation "guards", only nailed at teh bottom so there was no way to put any weight on these. You just gotta love the county inspectors. I told the buyer if they find an HVAC tech willing/able to get up there they'd better hang on to his number. It's hard to belive with 4700 sq ft the best place for the hatch was in the one 20 sq ft room.


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