An unconditioned attic brings its own set of problems for many homeowners that have to deal with it. Due to its distance to the roof, the air inside it is usually hot. It's not good during winter because the warmth from inside the house rises and condenses on the cold attic surface, creating a perfect environment for a mold infestation.
Hot air can reach and exit a conditioned home through leaks and cracks, most of which are typically in the attic since heat naturally flows from hot to cold areas. Builders add a layer of insulation on the floor of unconditioned attics to slow heat transfer. The only problem is that you need a hole to access the attic (commonly through a fire-rated ceiling access door). This problem is the reason why you need to insulate your hatch.
Read more: "Attic and Rooftop Access Panels."
Before You Begin
Before moving on to your attic hatch, learn how to test and seal your attic insulation if you haven't done so recently. Learn how to check and patch air duct leaks when you're up there. Since the heat escaping isn't noticeable, your attic door/hatch can appear to be in good working order. Warm air will exit, and cool air will enter in the winter. Over the summer, conditioned air will escape through the cracks.
List of Common Materials to Use
You will need new wood stops to create a barrier, depending on the condition of your hatch. Air-sealing equipment, such as caulk, is also helpful in this situation. Fiberglass insulation requires a few additional components, including insulation, glue, tape, a ruler, weatherstripping, and a tool to cut the fiberglass. If you're putting up an insulation cover, all you'll need is the cover and some staplers to keep it in place.
How to Do It
#1. Examine for Wood Stops and Air Leaks
Use a lit incense stick or a thin piece of toilet paper to search for air leaks. If you notice irregular air movement coming from your attic hatch, you'll need to cover the weatherstripping. It is best if you also look for damage to the weatherstripping and molding around your attic entrance.
Add a 2 1/2 inch stops around the window if the attic hatch rests on the molding because these new wood stops give you more space to install new weatherstripping. They also make it simple to add hook fasteners if necessary. Close the door/hatch completely, pressing down on the gasket to make a complete seal.
#2. Examine the Gasket or Weatherstripping Around the Opening of the Hatch
Remove them if they seem to be dried out or damaged before replacing them. You may take the weatherstrippings away from the frame. If the weatherstripping were secured with nails or screws, removing any of the fasteners would take longer.
#3. Place New Weatherstripping
Cut around the trim's bottom and the other three edges until it fits snugly on all four sides. Make sure the weatherstripping is self-adhesive. If new wood stops are needed, do so before installing new weatherstripping. You can apply the self-adhesive foam weatherstripping to the top edges of the new wood stops.
#4. Add the Rigid Foam Board or Fiberglass
After you've removed the weatherstripping, cut a piece of fiberglass or rigid foam board to fit the back of the hatch/door and nail or glue it in place. Attic door insulation material can be purchased pre-cut at your local home improvement store or online.
#5. Attach the Fasteners
You'll want to finish this project with a hook-and-eye fastener that compresses when you latch the hook after you've installed new weatherstripping and cut a piece of insulation for the back of the frame. By wrapping a lit incense stick around the perimeter of your attic entrance, you can double-check for a complete seal.
The attic is an integral part of the house and must always remain in good condition. It might take a lot of your time to make sure that it's appropriately insulated, but it will only serve you well in the long run. If you're not sure that you can do it on your own, consult a professional for a piece of advice to make sure that you are doing it the correct way.