Monday, December 4, 2017

A Yet-Better Replacement Of A Drywall-Plunker Attic Access Hatch

This is a high-end new home. Yet, the access to the attic is standard cheapness and thoughtlessness. The plunker and tied-on R38 batt lift with difficulty and danger. Slight handling errors break the brittle drywall. Allowing for bare areas, the effective value of the burdensome insulation is less than R7.

75% R38. 25% uninsulated.

1/(Reff + 3) = .25/3 + .75/41

Reff = 7

Or, is it even that good? The number 3 in math so far, represents the sum of convection and conduction resistances in a complex wall with at least two convection interfaces, aiming for a highest number, so as to not over-estimate savings with correction. What if the real sum here is only 1.3?
0.17 + 0.45 + 0.68 = 1.3 (Colorado Energy numbers)
1/(Reff + 1.3) = .25/1.3 + .75/(38 + 1.3)

Reff = 3.4, doubling the heat cost as-found. Ueff = Reff = 1/3.4 = 0.29

My insulation math at 95% furnace efficiency and natural gas cost of $2 per therm, says heat cost per year is: $2.4*Area*.88/.95*Ueff.
Area = 3.6 sq ft.
Cost per year: $2.30. Compare to cost of $0.20 per year at 3.6 sq ft of R38 ceiling, U = 1/39.3.

With my usual analysis with that number 3, Reff = 7, cost per year is:
$2.4*3.6*.88/.95/(7 + 3) = $0.80. 

Save $2.10 per year or $1.50 per year with the better hatch cover. Motivation is the same whatever the math. The gob is even more a nuisance and safety hazard, than a false economy. Avoid spending more for the better hatch.

Here is the replacement hatch cover, ready for application of facing drywall. An R19 unfaced  batt was at hand, costs less than R15 and is acceptable where it overfills the space.

Here is the completed useful attic with the new hatch cover stowed upon a tray.

I intended to use the 1x4 wood frame in the ceiling as-found. Finding that frame unacceptably out-of-square, a repair was instructive The RHS member of the frame was long by 7/16". In the correction by steel-cutting Sawzall, a steel edge frame for drywall was confirmed. The drywall and steel edging formed into the hole reduced possible opening size by more than an inch.

I think this is a much better arrangement of a generally-useful hatch, allowing maximum hole size with 24" framing on-center tolerance of plus or minus  1/2". It will be better that the hatch and its frame are built with precision as a matched set. I think of ways to increase durability while reducing cost.

Show a larger opening where the hatch assembly is installed with least effort, into a simple drywall cut. Show wood veneer banding of the cover drywall edges as thought to reduce cost and improve ruggedness. A high-end cabinet shop finding fill-in work and uses of scrap material, making thousands per year, will find many opportunities of improvement and lowered cost. Energy Trust Of Oregon, and Oregon HBA: Please support this, including better content of IECC Residential Chapter 4, paragraph R402.2.4 at 2019 cycle, timely with showing at 2019 International Builders Show in Las Vegas. Showing would enlist cabinet makers anywhere, at minor cost for the advocacy. Any shop could make improvements, to be shared.

Flexible grout completes the ceiling drywall edge over the hatch frame, with texture match. Think to offer a white melamine plywood facing instead of heavy drywall. In practice, a manufactured hatch of standard size will cost less than drywaller steel-edging of a plunker hole while complying with raised energy-efficiency code requirements.

I do many important things in an attic, and work hard to share with others. In this home, I completed a better example of R30 insulation hard-covering a skylight . Most important to the home owner, I created a useful attic, vastly capable of storage, enabling rental of the ground floor of a grand year-old duplex home. Found conditions were dark and dangerous. Access anywhere was blocked by hanging HVAC ducts. A full report upon the HVAC demolition and replacement is out of place in this blog post, and will be relocated after the ruined new-home furnace is replaced, hopefully in Spring 2018. Place some content now, to be moved to an appropriate post

All HVAC ducts are suspended. This is common, but it is not good practice.

Dangerous passage around the poorly-insulated skylight had trampled floor insulation value.

No passage this way, around the awful furnace installation. See that the furnace is ruined by absence of filtering provision. An entire side of the furnace was hacked open for absurd return-air ducting. The furnace is totaled, and must be replaced in shame upon the builder. Filtering of high efficiency furnaces is mandatory. 

Awful conditions were found in the demolished furnace-outlet D-box. Read more and see more in the associated photo album .

See the improved furnace proud upon a smooth attic floor, in photos at the beginning of this post.

No comments: