Dangerous Attic Access Ladder

One of the most dangerous things I do every day is climb up into attics.  The access ladders can be wobbly; the attic can be full of personal belongings to block my way; insulation can hide where to step; attics can be extremely hot!  Most of the time I use my own ladder, but sometimes a convenient access ladder is in place. 

I don't lik'em!  They worry me.  For lots of reasons.  Once I was to conduct an inspection and met at the door by the seller of this Centreville, VA home.  He was in a wheel chair.  He had fallen from an attic access ladder when it broke.  Even though he did not fall far, he was paralyzed from the waist down.  That was a very visual object lesson for this home inspector.

Imagine what I was thinking when I saw this!

This ladder opens to the top of 13 stairs.

It was not cut properly to rest squarely on any perch.

That causes strain on the ladder as the hinge is left open at an angle that can bend or break the bracket.

So I folded this up and went into the attic with my own ladder.

At the top I could see that this ladder assembly, installed years ago, was hung with only a couple of 2" drywall screws!  And they were (barely) screwed into single supports - on the side into the roof trusses and a couple of toe-nailed cross members at each end!

You can see how loose the assembly is at the top, seeming to lean downward on the right side.

This is a big yikes!

Somebody has been playing with fire for many years.  This installation is an accident waiting to happen.

My recommendation:  Look at the attic access ladder, if there is one.

Does it close tightly?

It is flush and square?

Does it open to a safe place?

And, importantly, is it installed parallel to the roof trusses?!

If you are looking to purchase and install an attic access ladder, two ladders that can hold 375 pounds and are made of aluminum can be found here or here.

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Jay performs inspections Monday through Saturday, throughout Northern Virginia, from his office in Bristow to Leesburg and Centreville, to Great Falls and Vienna and everywhere in between!