The Importance of your Attic hatch

Your attic hatch, something that really never gets any attention and all too often is forgotten. However, your attic hatch is important. Often and commonly located in walk-in closets, rear bedroom closets or hallways, It allows you access to your attic space to annually inspect the underside of your roof and see how it is performing. Are there any leaks or staining observed in the roof sheathing? Are there any signs of possible mould growing? Has any of your structural roof members become loose? Are your bathroom vents insulated and terminating to the exterior  through the roof or are they spilling air into your attic? When poking your head and/or upper body into your attic, do you feel any movement of air? Are there any signs of pests in your attic; such as mice droppings or evidence of larger pests like squirrels and raccoons? Obviously, with these larger pests, you can hear them move around in your attic anytime of the day or night. Mice tend to be more active in the night when you’re sleeping and you may hear movements and them nibbling on plastic vapour barrier, paper insulation backing or worse, electrical wiring. When it comes to attics the old saying “out of sight, out of mind” can never be truer.

Your attic hatch must be weather stripped around the perimeter of the opening and have good amounts of insulation on top of it to reduce the transfer of air and heat energy into your attic. There are several approaches in how to treat your attic space, but the most common in our area of the GTA is to treat the attic space like it is the outdoors. So we try to maintain the attic temperature as close as possible to the temperature outside and we achieve this with excellent ventilation and use a good performing vapour/air barrier along with good amounts of insulation to separate the living space and the attic space. When this is all done and completed, it works as a unit and reduces heated or cooled air you paid for from escaping into the attic. This also minimizes the possibility of ice damming during the winter on your roof.

Often times during  inspections when attic hatches aren’t insulated or weather-stripped, I will observe the beginning stages of possible mould or mildew above the area of the hatch on the underside of the roof sheathing. In some rare cases where the attic ventilation is poor, you will see more. Sometimes I have observed cases where the ventilation in the attic is so good that any heated air entering the attic just simply gets flushed out the Roof vents. You might ask yourself “why does this happen?” Well many times during the winter months warm heated air that you have paid for, will escape into the attic through your non weather stripped hatch and cool and condense on the structural members or under the roof sheathing and get wet and freeze. During the spring it will thaw, stain and in worse cases delaminate the sheathing over the long term. In other cases, you have possible mould or mildew growth. Every home and scenario are unique and so are their attic spaces and how they perform. So be sure to have a look and inspect your attic hatch. Make sure it is insulated and weather stripped. If it is not, buying some foam tape and coffee cup type insulation board (Expanded Polystyrene) or any other type, cut it to size and glue it together and voila…You have a nice weather striped and insulated attic hatch. 

Tony Coelho

Antonio is the principal Inspector at Ancoe Property Inspections. After graduating with High Honours from the Home Inspector Training Program at Sheridan College, he became a member of the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors and Completed all requirements necessary…

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You buy a house, you pay a guy with a brain to find flaws, issues etc. He finds them… tells you about them, makes a report… blablabla.  The difference with Ancoe and Antonio is that he continues to help you afterwards.

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