How To Improve Heating Efficiency By Insulating Your Attic Hatch

by Diane Barnes

Winter time heating bills are a cause of worry in many households. To help reduce the expense of keeping your home as warm as you'd like it, it's a good idea to undertake some simple insulation projects. This article will address one relatively common source of heat leaks—the attic hatch—and teach you how to fix it.

Sealing the gap beneath the trim.

The portion of an attic hatch visible from the room or hallway below is often bordered by a decorative trim. This trim helps to make the hatch less of an eyesore. Unfortunately, it also often gives the false impression that the hatch is well-insulated, when in fact it may be the source of serious air leaks.

Thus, the first step in insulating your hatch is to carefully remove the trim for a better look. It's likely you'll find a narrow gap between the hatch's frame and the ceiling. This gap will need to be sealed. Depending on its width, this should be accomplished in one of two ways.

If the gap is less than an inch wide, caulk will be sufficient for sealing it. Gaps larger than this will be best addressed using a can of spray foam. Either expanding or non-expanding foam can be used. However, be careful if utilizing expanding foam, as it may cause the frame to warp if too much is used.

Sealing the hatch's perimeter.

The top side of most attic hatches consists of a piece of plywood that rests against the top of the rectangular frame. Over time, that plywood tends to become somewhat warped, thanks to its constant exposure to temperature and humidity changes. Gaps between a warped hatch and the frame allow hot air to escape up into the attic.

The good news is that such heat leaks can easily be eliminated by attaching weatherstripping to the top perimeter of the frame. The weight of the hatch will compress the weatherstripping, thus eliminating inconsistent gaps.

Insulating the hatch itself.

Lastly, it's important to consider that plywood doesn't offer a high degree of insulation. To keep heat from migrating up through that thin board, plan to install a piece of rigid foam board on the top side of the hatch. The best insulation will be provided by using foil-faced polyiso foam board. Simply cut the board to the appropriate size, apply insulation glue to the foil side, and press it into place against the hatch. This will help keep heat where it belongs—inside of your home! Contact a company like Tracy's Insulation, Inc. for more info.