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How Important Is Attic Access?

We all know that some of the best home inspection stories begin in the attic.

But why is attic access so important?

The obvious reasons are to maintain any items and for proper inspection. I often hear many inspectors say that the size of the opening is not the correct size as stated in the “code” or home inspection standard. It is my belief that all attic spaces should be accessed as long as it does not pose a danger to the inspector or damage the property. Current standards require the opening to be at least 22 inches by 30 inches; the opening should also be large enough to remove the largest appliance in the attic.  If the inspector is unable to access the attic, it should be clearly noted on the report. Be sure to report how (or not) the attic was accessed and any limitations or obstructions you encounter. As always, safety first. Some inspectors take a picture to show the lack of access or what they were able to see.

So what should a home inspector be looking for in regards to attic access?

  • Attic access panels must be insulated and weather stripped.
  • Any attic space that has at least 30 square feet and has a height in at least one area of 30 inches should have an access panel.
  • The minimum size opening for an attic access is 22 inches by 30 inches.
  • The opening should be large enough to remove the largest appliance in the attic
  • If there are appliances in the attic, a solid floor of at least 24 inches wide should be installed and the appliance should be no more than 20 feet from the opening.
  • An area of at least 30 inches wide and 30 inches deep should be around parts of the appliance that may require service.
  • Adequate lighting and an electrical receptacle should also be near the appliance
  • Attic access openings in an attached garage should be fabricated from approved fire rated material
  • Dangerous or improperly installed pull down stairs
  • Structural members damaged or improperly altered to accommodate access

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