Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Attic Access with a Drop-Down Ladder and a Storage Hatch and Hoist

Winter 2018 progress in a garage attic, is first collected as a PDF album of job photos. The album is uploaded to Google My Drive.

Uploaded the photos that tell the story of this post to Google Photos, freely shared.

Now tell the story as a blog post that is broadly shared, including options of language translation.

Is there useful space above the ceiling in this garage? I have counseled: The answer is, yes. It is April, 10, 2018, and we probe the location of an attic ladder purchased and ready for installation. Begin exploration with an opening conservatively within bounds of joist centers  found by magnet.

The handsaw cut was guided by edges of truss bottom elements and penciled perpendiculars 53 3/4” apart. Work for awhile through this largest attic opening.

Through the drywall opening, before any restriction by the ladder frame, bring up needed ten sheets of 5/8” CDX plywood in 24” rips. See that the entire attic floor is prepared to accept the flooring raised 7 1/4" above ceiling drywall. Webs of 1/2" plywood bind the truss bottom elements and added 2x4s, with combined strength and stiffness that of 2x8 lumber. 2x4 framing alone is not suited to carry any storage loads.

At April 12th, 2018, we have lights and power at a safety pole. We are ready bring up the ladder frame to better guide the refined drywall cut.

Sight down the truss bay to right of the ladder and planned lift hoist at April 18th, 2018. Prep is now complete that will permit installation of the lift hatch and at last, some permanent attic flooring. Pretty R15 insulation everywhere will add to usefulness of the garage. A pattern of LED disk lights in the garage ceiling has replaced crummy tube fluorescent lights.  Please find this photo and more discussion of insulation in this attic, in this blog, this post 

At April 19, 2018, make the cut for the lift hatch.

In a shop day, April 20, 2018, I have built the lift hatch cover. Beveled 2x4 cover framing was a fun but messy table-saw task. The cover is strong, but is a bit heavy.

Filled. R15. Plywood-covered. Smooth all of the exterior and the ceiling opening, with flexible grout.

April 23, 2018. The ceiling is primed and painted with completed ladder and lift hatch. See the pretty LED disk lights in the garage ceiling.

April 24, 2018. Job finished!

This is the completed attic loading station, just off the attic ladder.

This is a Dutton Lainson WG1500 Worm Gear Winch.  Easily find one with a Google search. The Technora 1/4" cable was provided and professionally installed by Portland, Oregon vendor Rigging Products.

At February, 7, 2019, return for a demonstration of the hoist with customer-found hammock webbing as the capture of loads. See a well-used attic including even storage of spare bicycles.

The chosen hammock is this, •Sky Blue & Light Gray Nifty Single Hammock for $22.99:  A shop vac is a convenient trial load.

Please also see this scene as YouTube video with the attendant sound of the fast-enough gear drive: 

An efficient garage may employ many different storage options. Don't neglect the attic.

A drawing at scale is constructed as the job is developed. This overlay of a satellite photo is drawn with very old Adobe FrameMaker v5.5.6. We need such drawing capability in inexpensive, modern software.

Is the cover of this lift hatch too heavy? What shall I do better next time?
(This is more planning with Adobe FrameMaker.)

October, 2016: Look back to the prior-example attic access with a worm-gear storage-lift hoist. The opportunity came with this new attic ladder that replaced difficult access through a bedroom ceiling with the usual drywall plunker contraption.

Push the plunker from a stepladder, to climb over the 18" tall hole framing, with a dangerous 180° turn to not impact roof framing. Working in the dark attic, someday step through the ceiling.

The R38 batt twined to the plunker mainly added danger in the handling pirouette atop the stepladder. 

The ridiculous batt covered only 71% of the hole.

Do math of actual insulation value. 

The  frame is 22.8” x 31.4”. The batt is nicely square-cut 22” x 23”.
The fraction of area with batt is 22*23/22.8*31.4 = 0.707.

1/(Reff + 3) = 0.293/3 + 0.707/41

Reff = 5.6

The replacement of the plunker and gob is with compromise of strength, for light weight.

Off in the attic periphery, head clashing with roof joists, one is not likely to step boldly into the pit.

Know that the storage lift conversion of a redundant attic access hole was largely an inexpensive experiment, at a total cost of $600. The investment might be part of bigger imagining for this attic. Study before and after (still the present in February, 2019).
See that this space written off as useless, contains a volume perhaps 16 ft by 16 ft, 8 ft tall, that could be framed in as conditioned space. The 2x4 uprights that don’t really support the roof, could be replaced by many points of bracing from above the added work room, whatever it is. Maybe a sound-isolated music studio. A wood workshop? 

May, 2015: Here see my first attic with plunker access converted to a potential storage lift. The covered lift hatch is just beyond the attic ladder opening. See variable large access opportunities in many attics. See safety introduced with the access. Here a tall skylight shaft at LHS is over a two-story flight of stairs. Without new strong framing of R30 insulation of the skylight, one might have teetered in the attic, to that two-story fall through drywall.

Here is detail of a very light-weight hatch cover.

The floor cover at the lift, displaced at left here, might be used as a safety covering of the deployed attic ladder.

Here is a plan view of the first opportunity of lift hatch, with a new drop-down ladder.

A range of hatch cover possibilities is presented here. Compare annual cost of heat loss at a cover 22.5" by 32", 5.0 sq ft. Cost = 2.4*U*Area = $1.56 at U = 0.13, = $1.08 at U = 0.09, = $0.94 at U = 0.08. Where the perhaps-too-heavy present example of a hatch, has best thermal performance, the differences are insignificant. Decide hatch construction upon considerations of handling safety. Do carry this a step further, to find a generally-recommended hatch construction.

In this blog search: posts discussing factory-built attic access hatches. Find then, jobs with new or converted-plunker hatches, that may not have included a drop-down attic ladder. Most-importantly find this post: Mandatory Attic Access Walkways. This post summarizes my building codes quest in favor of simplest factory-made hatches that should displace all home building with batt-gob drywall plunkers. The following arrangement of a prototype least-cost hatch is detailed in this album PDF: A Simple Attic Access Insulated Hatch.    This was for new access in a garage. It is identical to the U 0.13 hatch already described in this post, aside from means of framing into the ceiling. A deficiency in this design, is the exposure of delicate gaskets, to damage from being stepped-upon.

The endangered gasket is avoidable as summarized in this post of work in November 2017:
A Yet-Better Replacement Of A Drywall-Plu
nker Attic Access Hatch
This is again U = 0.08. At next opportunity, I may do more with this concept.