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  1. #1
    Travis Grubbs's Avatar
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    Default Short Attic Ladder

    Today I served as a temporary building inspector for a nearby town. I denied the cerificate of occupancy on this town house when I pulled the attic ladder down out of the hall ceiling at the top of the stair way. I would like to see how the water heater and the HVAC system would be replaced in the attic with this ladder installation.

    Travis

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  2. #2
    Tim Moreira's Avatar
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    Default Re: Short Attic Ladder

    hummmm, that would be a little precarious to say the least.


  3. #3
    wes owens's Avatar
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    Default Re: Short Attic Ladder

    That reminds me of a house I did where most of the houses in the development had attic ladders that were a foot too short and the builders made boxes for the owners to sit under the ladder to access the attics.


  4. #4
    Richard Rushing's Avatar
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    Thumbs down Re: Short Attic Ladder

    Hey Travis,

    Irrespective of the ladder... the last step down from the ladder makes the staircase a trip hazard as the last step-down is an irregular step.

    IRC R807.1 Attic access: In buildings with combustible ceiling or roof construction, an attic access opening shall be provided to attic areas that exceed 30 square feet (2.8m2) and have a vertical height of 30 inches (762 mm) or greater. The rough-framed opening shall not be less than 22 inches by 30 inches (559mmby 762mm)and shall be located in a hallway or other readily accessible location. A 30-inch (762 mm) minimum unobstructed headroom in the attic space shall be provided at some point above the access opening. See Section M1305.1.3 for access requirements where mechanical equipment is located in attics.

    As highlighted, the staircase makes this no longer a readily accessible location as it endangers all who enter or exit.

    Also, the manufacturers installation and listing instructions are being ignored;

    IRC 2003, R102.4
    Exception: Where enforcement of a code provision would violate the conditions of the listing of the equipment or appliance, the conditions of the listing and manufacturer's instructions shall apply.


    Richard


  5. #5
    wayne soper's Avatar
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    Default Re: Short Attic Ladder

    all they really need to do is turn it 180 degrees correct. or is there not enough room at the landing also


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    Default Re: Short Attic Ladder

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    Default Re: Short Attic Ladder

    Quote Originally Posted by wayne soper View Post
    all they really need to do is turn it 180 degrees correct. or is there not enough room at the landing also

    May (I repeat: "MAY") be room to have ladder drop from other direction, but then you still don't have access as Richard noted below or above (depending on which direction you are reading the posts).

    Not a good situation to say the least.

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  8. #8
    Rick Hurst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Short Attic Ladder

    How about this access ladder at a walk-in attic which runs up to another attic space where an furnace unit is located.

    The openings between the rungs were 20+. Any recommendation on what the spacings should be?

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  9. #9
    Jerry Peck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Short Attic Ladder

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Hurst View Post
    The openings between the rungs were 20+. Any recommendation on what the spacings should be?
    12" maximum spacing.

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  10. #10
    Bob Harper's Avatar
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    Cool new Attic Ladders

    There are several attic ladders now available you should check out. Werner makes a square telescopic one for 2x2 scuttle holes as well as a 22x54. The best I've seen is the Rainbox, which has a scissor beam system and is available insulated with 1 or 2" of foam, a weatherstripping gasket and can take numerous types of sheathing to match the ceiling. Much more energy conscious. Contractor price runs about $580+ installation.

    HTH

    Keep the fire in the fireplace.

  11. #11
    Jerry Peck's Avatar
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    Default Re: new Attic Ladders

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Harper View Post
    Werner makes a square telescopic one for 2x2 scuttle holes
    Bob,

    I'd say that installing a pull-down ladder in an existing 2x2 attic access opening is 'altering' that opening, which would then require the opening to meet the current minimum size of 22 inches by 30 inches, which would mean installing a ladder which would now fit that larger opening.



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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Short Attic Ladder

    Jerry said, "
    I'd say that installing a pull-down ladder in an existing 2x2 attic access opening is 'altering' that opening, which would then require the opening to meet the current minimum size of 22 inches by 30 inches..."

    I'm not so sure that evey one would interpret the act of installing a ladder (without changing the opening size) as "altering" in the sense that it must be brought up to current code.

    Is replacing the cover an act of altering? What about replacing the trim around the opening?

    I just don't follow the logic of how installing a ladder in an existing opening (assuming the opening size wasn't changed) would require bringing it up to current code.
    JF


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    Default Re: new Attic Ladders

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Harper View Post
    There are several attic ladders now available you should check out. Werner makes a square telescopic one for 2x2 scuttle holes as well as a 22x54. The best I've seen is the Rainbox, which has a scissor beam system and is available insulated with 1 or 2" of foam, a weatherstripping gasket and can take numerous types of sheathing to match the ceiling. Much more energy conscious. Contractor price runs about $580+ installation.

    HTH
    a GOOGLE for "rainbox ladder" does not find this, do you have a link to the manufacturer?


  14. #14
    Jerry Peck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Short Attic Ladder

    Bob,

    You have "altered" the opening because you no longer have an "opening", you have a "permanent ladder", which will also require other things, such as protecting all the NM cable, etc., in the attic to a height of 7 feet.

    With just an "opening" you only need to protect the NM cable within 6 feet of the "opening".

    I agree that replacing an old, beat up, piece of plywood or gypsum board which is 2x2 with a new piece, or replacing the old trim, would not be "altering" "the" "opening", however, installing a "permanent ladder" would.

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  15. #15
    Jerry Peck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Short Attic Ladder

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  16. #16
    Bob Harper's Avatar
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    Smile Re: Short Attic Ladder

    My goof---www.rainbowatticstair.com

    Interesting perspective. In my area, most of the attic access is through a hatch in the master closet that goes through trusses. This limits you to one axis for the longer leg of it, which puts the ladder itself often in a position it would be impossible to extend, much less access. You also need that clearance at the foot of the ladder, right? Wouldn't do to put the ladder into the coat rack on one side.

    The problem is, the AHJ passed it with these rabbit holes in the first place. Pretty dumb putting a hatch in a closet so the dust can get all over your nice things. Real PIA.

    Thanks for linking Werner Jerry. That's it.

    Are you going to get a new furnance up through there? Nope. I'd recommend they install a full 22x54 stair on the main hallway where there is plenty of clearance both at the framing and the landing.

    So, why isn't such a hatch or door counted as "fenestration" or have to meet the energy code?

    Keep the fire in the fireplace.

  17. #17
    Jerry Peck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Short Attic Ladder

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Harper View Post
    So, why isn't such a hatch or door counted as "fenestration" or have to meet the energy code?
    They are (basically).

    From the Florida Building Code - Chapter 13, Energy Efficiency
    - 3-606.1.ABC.1.2.3 Ceilings.
    - - Ceilings shall be sealed at the following locations:
    - - - 1. Between walls and ceilings.
    - - - 2. At penetrations of the ceiling plane of the top floor of the building (such as chimneys, vent pipes, ceiling fixtures, registers, open shafts, or chases) so that air flow between the attic or unconditioned space and conditioned space is stopped.
    - - - 3. Large openings, such as shafts, chases soffits, opening around chimneys, and dropped ceiling spaces (such as above kitchen cabinets, bathroom vanities, shower stalls, and closets), shall be sealed with an airtight panel or sheeting material and sealed to adjacent top plates (or other framing members) so that a continuous air barrier separates the spaces below and above the ceiling plane.
    - - - 4. Gaps between ceiling gypsum board and the top plate shall be sealed with a sealant to stop air flow between the attic and the interior of wall cavities.
    - - - 5. The attic access hatch, if located in the conditioned space shall have an airtight seal.

    They already have (should already have) the same insulation permanently and securely attached to the top of the attic cover (so the insulation stays in place).

    Many of our old homes have those silly 2x2 openings in closet where you can't get to them either. Then the inspectors were forced to realize that the minimum attic opening size did not meet code, then they were impressed upon to understand that there needed to be room to put a ladder under the attic access for access to it, and, over time, those silly 2x2 openings went the way of most old 'we've always done it that way' things and the openings 'came out of the closet'.

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  18. #18
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    Default Re: Short Attic Ladder

    Thanks. Some pretty fancy attic decking at the site, too:

    Rainbow Attic Stair Accessories


  19. #19
    Bob Harper's Avatar
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    Talking attic hatch?

    This shows several things: First, this is how the cheap skate builders address the min. opening. This is in a kid's bedroom closet. To access it, you'd have to remove most of the clothes in the closet and still need a ladder. Note the lack of insulation and weatherstripping. When we get these Nor'easters, the wind gusts cause sudden depressurization in the attic, which causes these hatches to flip open as the house tries to equilibrate. With this huge hole in the top of the house, it is leaking tons of conditioned air but also fighting the draft in the fireplace. On a warm day, I got -3 Pascals primarily because of this hole. Imagine what it would be on a 20F day.

    BTW, there is a Cat. 1 furnace up there. Good luck changing it out through this gopher hole.

    This was a huge national builder.

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  20. #20
    Brian Doles's Avatar
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    Default Re: Short Attic Ladder

    Pulldown steps are almost always installed incorrectly. Either placed in a ridiculous spot or mounted wrong.

    Check this one out in a brand new $500k home.



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