Attic pull-down stairs or ladders are one of the modern-day conveniences we often take for granted that are safe and easy to use. The fact is these permanently attached ladders are often not properly installed by homeowners.
Some common defective conditions that are found by home inspectors include:
* The homeowner will have cut the attic floor truss's to make the attic stair fit. This causes a weakening of the structure that supports the roof. Most homeowners do not realize that cutting any of the truss's in the attic could cause structural damage to the home.
* Many times these pull-down stairs are not installed with the proper fasteners. Home Inspectors often find undersized nails and screws used that will not properly secure the fixture or hold the weight associated with the apparatus and the person using it.
* We discussed the wrong size fasteners being an issue, and we must address the number of fasteners as well. Most if not all manufacturers describe the size and the number of fasteners required to properly install the stairs. They also inform the installer of the location of each of the fasteners as well.
* If the stairs are installed in a garage or unconditioned area insulation is not required. However, if the stairs are installed in a conditioned area of the home the hatch cover will need to have insulation installed along with weather stripping to prevent the loss of heating or cooling into the attic.
* The stairs should come down and touch the floor without the stairs being to long. Stairs that are to long do not fully extend and could put stress on the hinges and cause the stairs to fail.
* The attic stairs are usually made of wood or aluminum. If wooden stairs are being used it is important to check the steps for damage or cracking.
* When pulling down the ladder from the ceiling care should be taken to protect your eyes as debris from the attic that has collected on the stairs will fall as the stairs are being deployed and fall into the face of the operator.
* Care should be taken to not allow the stairs to snap up when closing as to not damage the ceiling as the unit closes. The rope handle should be held with tension until the ladder hatch has closed into the ceiling .
* It is important to follow all safety rules associated with the ladder by the manufacturer, which may include not exceeding the weight limit, and installing locks or latches to prevent children from playing on the stairs.