Attic stairs provide the most convenient and sensible way to access attic space above your home. Many attics are not big enough to be accessible with a full set of stairs, nor is there the space in many homes for a full staircase. Because of this, a set of pull-down attic stairs is the best way to reach the attic. When built correctly, the stairs are concealed within the attic itself. In the house, the only evidence of the stairs is a string dangling down. There are, however, problems that could arise with attic stairs. From loose jambs, gaps in the ceiling, squeaky springs and cheap hardware to problems with the ladder itself, a number of things might need to be constantly maintained.
The Convenience of Attic Stairs
If your home has an attic crawl space but is not large enough to merit a doorway and a set of proper stairs, having a set of pull-down attic stairs allows you to access the crawl space without sacrificing any room in your home. The stairs fold conveniently up into the crawl space and are completely invisible from within your living space. By pulling down on a string, the trap door opens, revealing a fold-up ladder held in place by springs and hardware. Brought down to the floor, accessing the attic crawl space is simply a matter of climbing the ladder.
Common Problems with Pull-Down Stairs
If pull-down attic stairs have already been installed or you have taken the time to install them, you should be aware of some of the problems associated with the design. As stated, the trapdoor is spring-loaded to enable it to pull itself back up when pushed. The ladder is divided into three sections. The top third is fixed to the top side of the trapdoor while the two lower sections fold up to let the door close. The folding is made possible by hinges between the sections, and the whole contraption is secured with nuts and bolts.
Loose Jambs and Gaps
The jambs are the pieces of wood that frame the opening in the ceiling. If these are incorrectly installed, gaps could form between them and the joists or the trapdoor. They may also loosen after time. If, however, they are properly glued and screwed into the joists, they should give you no problem.
This is not so much a danger as it is an annoyance. When pulling down on the string to open the trapdoor, the springs tend to squeak and creak when they are in need of lubrication. To solve this, oil the joints and the springs somewhat regularly.
The nuts and bolts used to secure the springs to the jambs and the braces to the ladder itself need to be of high quality and properly installed. Each time you climb and descend the ladder you are putting a lot of weight on them, so to be safe, you must be certain that they are installed correctly.
Another problem that could arise from the weight applied to the ladder is the bowing of the sections of the ladder. Hardwood should be used to construct the ladder, and the hinges should be checked from time to time.
Pull-down attic stairs are extremely convenient. However, you must check the component parts periodically to ensure that the ladder will safely support your weight.