OK, I may be a Led Zeppelin fan and this post may not exactly be going to heaven, but it might just keep someone on this earth for a while longer!
One very useful, and potentially very dangerous, thing in our houses is the attic access ladder.
So why this post?
Because I find that they are seldom installed correctly. Or safely!
ESPECIALLY ON NEW CONSTRUCTION.
On new construction I always check the attic access ladder BEFORE I go into the attic! Why? Because, as I said, they are seldom installed correctly or safely!
The ladder on this new construction was no different. It was installed with four, yes FOUR, drywall screws! Two on each end.
Notice the position of these two screws. Can you read the plaque in between? You can't?
Can you read it now? Maybe the installer couldn't read!
The attic ladder, or "stair" as it is called here, is rimmed on all four sides by jambs. These are the sides. Each side, or jamb, is to be anchored.
Each manufacturer has its own recommendation as to how they prefer their ladder to be installed.
Such recommendations include large nails, as it says here, square-head steel screws, "Dacronized" screws, and brass screws. There may be more for all I know.
Many producers recommend AGAINST drywall screws of any length. Why? Because they are not that strong.
They are kind of narrow up near the screw top. And they have been known to sheer off under heavy loads.
In addition to hefty nails or screws, another installation necessity is a doubled-up 2x4 at each end. That way the longer nails or screws are anchored all the way through their length. This is the same principle used at front doors to set them strongly.
Anything less than the above installation means that the ladder assembly is far weaker than it should be. Carrying a heavy load up into the attic, or down therefrom, can result in the assembly breaking off from its support, or completely falling down.
On this new construction, the ladder was installed with too few, and incorrect, screws and not into doubled ends. Surprised? I am not either... It is, in my opinion, an accident waiting to happen.
My recommendation: check any ladder access assembly carefully for proper installation! If it is not, and if someone should fall, the ladder might, in fact, BE a stairway to heaven!
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560