The attic hatch in your home is the entrance point for the attic, often concealing a set of retractable stairs for climbing into the area. Attic hatches are not heavy and are intended to be easily pulled down for access to the stairs or pushed back into place to close the attic.Unsealed and uninsulated attic hatches can be a significant source of not only air and energy loss, but also unhealthy substances lingering in your attic. The attic hatch in your home can be responsible for as much wasted energy (and by extension, wasted money) as an open fireplace chimney. If the attic space is unfinished and uninsulated as well, the energy loss can be even greater.
To remove this source of energy loss, it's necessary to seal your attic hatch and make it airtight. You can first test your attic hatch to check the severity of the air leak.
- Light an incense stick that will produce a thin stream of smoke as it burns. Alternatively, professionals use a commercially manufactured smoke pencil (sometimes called a smoke puffer) that generates a line of smoke.
- Shut off air conditioners or furnaces to remove other sources of air drafts.
- Hold the incense or smoke pencil near the attic hatch. If there are air leaks occurring, the stream of smoke will be visibly disturbed, bending toward air leaks entering the attic or away from air leaks coming out.
To reduce the air leaks from a do-it-yourself perspective, install rigid foam insulation on the back side of the attic hatch. Apply foam weatherstripping or tape around the edges of the hatch to prevent air from leaking. Attach a manufactured fabric housing to the stairs to increase air leak blockage. Commercially available insulated hatch covers are also a good choice—see your home performance professional for recommendations.
Consider finishing and insulating your attic. In combination with an airtight entrance hatch, a well-insulated and sealed attic can trim your heating costs by as much as 30 percent.
P. K. Wadsworth Heating & Cooling offers its greater Cleveland customers high-quality sales, maintenance and repair for heating and cooling systems, including furnaces, air conditioners and heat pumps. Contact us today for more information on residential energy efficiency and how it can be improved by sealing the attic hatch in your home.
Paul Wadsworth is the President and Owner of P.K. Wadsworth Heating and Cooling. For 37 years, Paul has been providing heating and cooling services to the Greater Cleveland area. P.K. Wadsworth has been a trusted Cleveland HVAC service company for 75 years. The company understand the area's construction and local heating and air conditioning needs. Paul has an MBA from the University of Michigan and a B.S., Industrial Engineering from Purdue University. He's been President of the Cleveland Air Conditioning Contractors of America and a founding member of the local chapter. Paul was born and raised in Cleveland and has been active in the local community. He resides in Cleveland, Ohio with his wife and two sons.
The opinions and statements contained in this article are for general informational purposes only and are not instructions. Only trained, licensed and experienced personnel should attempt installation/repair. The author assumes no liability for the opinions/statements made in this article. Any individual attempting a repair or installation based on this article does so at their own risk of loss.