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This attic hatch does have fold-out steps inside...

enter image description here

It would be great to put a layer of insulation at the level A:

enter image description here

unfortunately, once the steps triple-fold and you put the hatch up,

the folded steps come up an extra at least a foot .. the height of "B" or more.

(Notice I simply lay some insulation panels there - the white stuff with the bar code - when the steps fold up and you shut the hatch, those panels are pushed way up high: it's largely useless, of course air just flows in the sides.)

the literal hatch is 52x24,

the surrounds above are about 29x28.

Is there something for this?

Bonus question:

i thought of at least carefully fitting insulation inside the gaps in the ladder:

enter image description here

my guess is that would probably be useless - experts ??


I guess a follow up question is are solutions like this integrated cover rubbish cheap solutions, or ok ?

(I notice some are simply "boxes" that just "sit on" the attic floor - seems useless. that one pins in at least.)


As a curiosity for anyone reading. Notice (image 2) I simply threw some (three layers) of insulating panel up there, resting above the ladder. This is totally useless because, when you fold up the ladder, it lifts them in the air many inches. So TBC there is a huge air gap around the sides, it is not at all sealed. Very bizarrely even this crappy measure drastically cut the heat reaching the outside of the hatch!!!!

  • * I did realize after posting, there are (cheap?) solutions such as this one: amazon.com/Attic-Ladder-Insulating-Stair-Cover/dp/B01E0FU6IG – Fattie May 25 '18 at 16:49
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    What climate zone are you in? R-14.5 is peanuts where I am. We insulate attics to R-50. – isherwood May 25 '18 at 16:50
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    That might be adequate, then. Also a factor is the R-value of the rest of your attic insulation. – isherwood May 25 '18 at 16:52
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    Fitting insulation where you have green squares would shorten the already too-short treads. If not for that, sure. – isherwood May 25 '18 at 19:22
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    I have put one inch foil face foam in green squares you show and along the edges , I have not measured the performance but since it was essentially free , why not ? They have been there 20 years with no problem. I are also an engineer and decided house builders are not that clever. – blacksmith37 May 26 '18 at 17:07
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I built an insulation scheme for just this situation in a Minnesota custom home years ago. It involved several things:

  1. Framed, insulated walls immediately outside the hatch opening with an R-value appropriate for your climate zone, flush on top of the hatch opening (or as tall as needed to clear the folded stair set).

  2. A second hinged trap door that swings upward. This was two layers of 3/8" plywood sandwiching 6" of rigid foam. Latex adhesive and sleeve bolts held it all together. This door was oversized to lap across the insulated walls. A hook and eye (into a board spanning the roof truss members above) were used to keep the upper door open during use.

  3. Soft foam weatherstripping between the lapped door skin and the top of the walls to seal against airflow.

It's not simple, but it's the right way to keep your room comfortable and your heating bill reasonable. Plan carefully to be sure your hinge situation will work as you planned in the space available.

  • you know - that's the damned correct solution! Maybe i'm lame looking for a cheap readymade solution. Good one. – Fattie May 25 '18 at 16:46
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    now that you've described your solution, I realize it's incredibly shoddy building that anyone would throw in a hatch, without a totally complete solution. I mean heat pours through as if it's a hole ... – Fattie May 25 '18 at 16:55
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    Indeed, which is why my family's company spend a day of labor on the one I described. Granted, it was for a $750k home, but.... – isherwood May 25 '18 at 19:20
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    +1 well done! Only thing that bothers me is the weight of the lid, lifting it from the top of the ladder. Counterweight would be called for. – Harper - Reinstate Monica May 25 '18 at 22:16
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Replace the entire unit with a modern one designed for energy efficiency. Yes, there is expense with this option but units are available that have better than 5x energy value compared to your old one, due to interlocking seal between the door and frame (eliminates air passing through) and insulated door panel.

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FTR, I did purchase one of these products - they are about 80 bucks only:

enter image description here

They are FANTASTIC. Basically AMAZING in my use case.

(example product)

With no other change at all, it reduced the temperature of our upstairs by around seven degrees, which is nuts. I have an IR thermo and it slashed the temperature of the underside of the hatch and surrounds - amazing.

It would be crazy not to buy one of these if you have this type of hatch and you're in a hot area. Fantastic!


BTW secondly, I learned of the critical importance of ventilation in a (hot type) attic. Ventilation + one of these inexpensive hatch insulators with a zip, solved the problem totally!

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