Working Safely in Your Home’s Attic


Most people visit the attic only when absolutely necessary. Attics are typically cramped as well as uncomfortably hot or cold during most seasons of the year. However, once in a while, the pull-down stairs are lowered or the access hatch is opened and the homeowner ventures up into that unfamiliar zone. What you should know before you go, however, is that most attics are not designed for casual visits and require certain precautions to stay safe.

Here are a few things to keep in mind before you make your next visit to the other side of the ceiling:

  • First, make sure the climb up is safe and secure. Pull-down attic stairs are notoriously flimsy and may loosen further over time, making climbing the wobbly stairs precarious. Verify that the stairs are stable and can support your weight.
  • Once up there, walk only on the walkway down the center or on visible main trusses. Don’t step out on beds of insulation. These areas are not weight-bearing. Walking on insulation may cause the ceiling below to collapse, leading to a dangerous fall and severe injury.
  • Attics are typically rough, unfinished construction. Wear pants, long sleeve shirts and gloves. Be aware of protruding nails, sharp, splintering edges of wooden structural components and the fact that you can easily bump your head in the limited clearance.
  • Watch out for electrical wires routed through the attic. Don’t inadvertently cut or hammer nails into wiring.
  • Air quality in attics is often unhealthy. Air may be contaminated by airborne fibers from insulation as well as toxic spores from mold growth. Wear eye protection and a breathing mask for safety.
  • Attics can be zones of extreme temperatures, particularly in summer where temps may soar well above 100 degrees. Work early in the day, drink plenty of water and limit your exposure to heat by taking frequent breaks to cool off downstairs.


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