People think about the insulation of an attic hatch. After all, it’s access to a rarely used space that doesn’t require much thought.
However, an uninsulated attic hatch can be a source of drafts and potential heat loss in your home. And if you’re insulating your attic, it makes sense to insulate this area as well.
Here we explain why it’s a good idea to insulate an attic hatch, how to do this DIY job, how much it costs, and what options are available if you’re building a new home or replacing an existing attic hatch.
Different ways to insulate your attic hatch
There are two ways homeowners can properly insulate their attic hatch. One method is similar to insulating the rest of the attic, which is applied directly to the hatch. The other method involves placing a cover over the attic hatch to prevent unwanted heat flow.
If you have already insulated your loft, you will probably already experience this method. This method essentially involves gluing strips of fiberglass foam to the wood stops that hold your hatch together. By stacking these foam strips on top of each other, you create an effective barrier that prevents heat from passing through within your hatch.
Another more straightforward way to insulate your hatch is by installing an attic cover. These covers are installed in the attic directly above your hatch. It is essentially an additional access point to your attic. You open the cover to access your attic. Installing covers is much easier and requires far less equipment but performs virtually the same as foam insulation.
How much energy is lost through an attic hatch?
How much energy is lost through an uninsulated attic hatch depends on its size and, more importantly, how the attic itself is insulated.
If the attic is insulated at the level of the rafters, an uninsulated attic hatch will have little or no effect. If the attic is insulated at the level of the floor joists, an uninsulated hatch will have a significant impact.
A 500 mm x 500 mm attic hatch can lose up to 40 kWh/year. Add in the draft at the edge of the hatch and the cold bridge effect it creates, and that number can be as high as 60 kWh/year (depending on how drafty the attic is). But even then, the measurable energy loss is unlikely to break the bank.
Also, in this day and age of rising energy prices, that’s only about $3.50/year. So it could argue that the energy loss alone does not justify spending a lot on insulation.
However, the better the insulation and draught-proofing of the house, the more significant the impact of an uninsulated skylight.
It is essential to insulate the attic hatch if the insulation is at the ceiling to prevent heat from escaping in an existing home. While this won’t save a lot of money or CO2, it’s a quick, cheap, and easy job.
An attic hatch can be a source of drafts, so sealing and insulating an existing attic hatch will improve thermal comfort in the bedrooms or living spaces below.
Warm, moist air can be drawn into the attic through an attic hatch. It condenses when this air hits cold surfaces, such as the attic joists. Condensation on the joists can lead to rot and decay over time and damage the roof structure. In addition, insulating an attic hatch can help prevent potential problems with condensation in the attic space.
In new construction, you must insulate an attic hatch to meet building codes, and frankly, you’d be hard-pressed to find a new attic hatch that isn’t insulated and airtight (at least to some degree). Gone are when MDF or plywood panels were used to make attic doors in new homes.
Most new products have a built-in draft seal. Every new attic hatch has sufficient airtightness for all but Passive House levels of thermal efficiency.
How to insulate an attic hatch?
This task depends on the type of attic hatch in your house. There are two main types:
The hinged type folds down into the living space and can come with or without a ladder. This option is preferred in new homes today because of the ease of access.
Fold-out attic hatches are standard in older homes and are often not insulated.
Simple attic hatches (without hinges) can be insulated by taping a plastic bag to the hatch, filling it with insulating material, and sealing it with tape. It is practical cheap, and the bag prevents the insulating fibers from being disturbed.
Alternatively, can tape a piece of rigid foam insulation to the hatch, but this usually leaves gaps at the edges that allow drafts.
Existing hinged hatches with attached conductors can be treated in the same manner, ensuring that the insulation does not interfere with the function of the conductors. Foil insulation could be a good alternative in this case, as a thinner layer is required compared to rigid foam.
Adding sealing strips to the edge of the attic hatch will help prevent drafts in both cases.
How to protect an attic hatch from drafts
Just as important as insulation is draught-proofing. Taking steps to seal an existing attic hatch will improve comfort in the living spaces below.
To protect an attic hatch from drafts, all you need to do is apply a self-adhesive foam strip (sometimes called a weatherstrip) or an EPDM door and window weatherstrip.
That needs to be fitted around the edge of the hatch as well as around the frame in which it sits, ideally (but not necessarily), with a closing mechanism that pulls the hatch down onto the draught excluder.
If you are looking for the best Loft Hatches in Tamworth, Sutton Coldfield, Lichfield, Loughborough, Cannock, Wolverhampton, Stafford, Uttoxeter, Derby, Stoke, Crewe, Shrewsbury, Telford, Walsall, Dudley, Stourbridge, Birmingham, Kidderminster, Redditch, Solihull, Coventry, Rigby, Nuneaton, Warwick and throughout the West Midlands, Contact lofts of Space now for all your Loft Hatches needs.
Read More: Ultimate Guide to Loft and Velux Windows