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FRIDAY, JANUARY 19, 2007
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Insulating attic door will lower heating, cooling bills

Dear Jim: I just stored the Christmas tree up in the attic. I realize there is no insulation on the access door in ceiling nor did it seal well. Is there much energy lost through there and what can I do about it?
Dan W.

Dear Dan: People seldom think about it, but the attic access opening can account for a significant loss of heat from your home during winter. This loss is a combination of heat flow through the uninsulated cover and warm air leakage where it rests on the molding.

During summer, heat from the roof radiates down into your home through the access cover. If you air-condition, a leaky cover draws cool air from your house and forces your air conditioner to run longer. If you do not air-condition, the air leakage actually can help to ventilate naturally.

When I moved into my home, the attic cover was just a 20 by 22-inch piece of plywood resting on uneven molding. First, I stuck thick adhesive-backed foam weatherstripping on the top of the molding. Next I nailed a layer of old drywall over the plywood to give it enough weight to compress the weatherstripping for a tight seal.

I glued several layers of rigid foam insulation on top of the drywall to provide a high insulation level. Finally I covered the rigid foam insulation with aluminum foil. The foil helps reflect the heat from the hot roof during summer so less gets through to my bedroom.

The above method works well for a small access opening. If you have a standard large access opening with pull-down folding stairs or a ladder, you will have to install a tall cover to fit over the stairs and still seal against the floor.

The bottom cover of the folding stairs may not seal well against the ceiling nor does it provide much insulation.

The following companies offer attic entrance products: Atticap, (888) 292-2229, www.draftcap.com; Battic Door, (508) 320.9082, www.batticdoor.com; Calvert Stairs, (866) 477-8455, www.calvert usa.com; InsulSure, (877) 660-5640, www.insulsure.com; and SP Partners, (203) 322-0009, www.rainbowatticstairs.com.

Send inquiries to James Dulley, The Decatur Daily, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit www.dulley.com.

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