Many of us love to take on DIY projects around the house to save money and as a fun hobby. However, attic DIY projects are not as common as others around the house. Because of this, going into your attic to remodel can be less straightforward.
Given the unique dimensions of attics, it’s also more important to be cautious of how you move about in an attic space.
One of the best ways to walk through an attic is to lay down boards that can support your excess weight. You can also test your weight on different areas of the attic floor before fully stepping down.
But there are more hazards than falling through the floor. This article will outline how you can minimize all these hazards.
Are Attics Safe to Walk in?
Generally speaking, attics are safe to walk in and do not pose significant dangers. However, there are some tips you should consider to minimize the few risks that are present:
When you take on remodeling projects or any other type of project in your attic, it is imperative to wear safety gear.
For example, if you happen to be working with or around insulation, you should cover most of your body and wear gloves and goggles to protect yourself from exposure to toxic materials.
Walking into an attic without light is a recipe for disaster. You could easily trip over a box or another object and seriously hurt yourself. Make sure that there is proper lighting in your attic before you step into it.
You can always use a flashlight for extra lighting in hard-to-see corners.
Many attic accidents don’t actually occur in the attic but in the access point to the attic. Be wary of the stairs or ladder that lead into your attic. These access points are sometimes installed improperly or flimsily, so be extra careful how you step.
New homeowners sometimes find that the flooring in the attic is unfinished, meaning that there are spots that are dangerous to step on. Flooring covered with flimsy material can easily give way with the full weight of an adult on it.
You should avoid loose wires at all costs since they can electrocute you. These wires also pose a fire hazard for the entire house.
If you notice any loose wires in your attic, do not approach them. Instead, call a professional electrician.
Attics tend to have exposed material that can be damaged somehow, leading to sharp edges that can cut you. There might also be nails and splinters, so be on the lookout for those, too.
Pests like rodents and spiders easily can—and often do—get into attics. Be wary of pest droppings that indicate the presence of rodents and other animals.
At best, you might just step on rodent droppings. At worst, you could get bitten by a rat, raccoon, or other animal and develop an infection.
How to Walk in Attic without Falling Through
It might be comedic to imagine someone falling through an attic to the room below, but it happens more often than one might think and can be catastrophic.
According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration), moving through some spaces in an attic can expose people to fall hazards.
Using platforms is the best way to walk around an unfinished attic without falling through. However, not all platforms have flooring. You can make a catwalk by attaching 1.27 cm boards or strips of plywood to your attic’s joist.
Ceiling joists are not as strong as they probably should be in most homes. In fact, these joists can only sustain 10 to 40 lbs. per square foot. On top of that, they are not just supporting your weight but also weight from items stored in it.
Even if an attic was built to withstand the test of time, excess weight, water, mold, damage from pests, and other factors could decrease its stability. This means that you should walk in your attic cautiously so that you do not fall through it. One wrong move could land you in the hospital—or worse.
If you have a finished attic, spread your weight around when you move through it. In this way, you can test out spots to see if they are weak and avoid falling through.
How to Walk on Attic Insulation
If you notice exposed insulation around your attic—especially on the floor—there is probably nothing beneath it that can support an adult’s weight. It might just be drywall, through which you can easily fall.
In this case, do not step in any place where you cannot actually see the framing. Push insulation aside to locate the 16-to-24-inch studs underneath. You can use these beams to get from one point to another. You might even find two-by-four planks, which are safer.
How to Work in Attic without a Floor
Attics without a floor present a lot of dangers, and one wrong step can leave you on the floor below with severe injuries as well as cause a lot of costly damage to your home.
One of the best ways to walk in an attic without flooring is to use plywood sheeting. You can place this sheeting over the joists to make a platform. Be sure that the platform is sturdy before putting all your weight on it to avoid an accident.
Keep in mind that the size and strength of the plywood sheeting you use are limited to what you can get into the attic.
While walking in an attic is not usually dangerous, it can be. Whether it lacks flooring or has exposed insulation, you have to be cautious when walking in your attic. The tips detailed above can help you stay safe no matter what you are doing in the attic.