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Accessing my "attic" for installation

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by dbvanw, Nov 18, 2008.

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  1. dbvanw

    dbvanw New Member

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    Oct 7, 2008
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    Loc:
    The Foothills of Colorado
    I am about to begin installing my "new to me" stove and can't decide the best way to gain access to the attic space.

    My house has a 12/12 pitch vaulted (cathedral) ceiling with collar ties installed which creates an 8' wide flat ceiling at about 18' from the floor in the living area and 8' in the loft. This creates an "attic" which runs the length of the house with about 3.5' of headroom.

    There is no access at all for the attic space and I need to frame for the ceiling box, etc. I could create one in the loft about 20'-30' away from the penetration point, but I am not sure if i want to look at an access panel if I don't have to, and not knowing the insulation situation i may be wading through a lot of blown-in and disturbing the insulation envelope. The ceiling support box is about 12" square so my butt certainly won't fit through that hole. The only other way would be to remove a 20' long metal roof sheet, cut the sheathing and come in from the roof.

    The stove will sit where the chair is in the picture below... you can see the flat ceiling above which creates the attic floor>

    Thanks in advance-

    Dave

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  2. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

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    Ouch - none of those options sound too good to me!

    Is there any way you could work through the 12" hole. I know your whole body wouldn't fit (Neither would mine - by a long shot!) But really, it would seem all you'd need to do is feed some 2x's through the hole and screw them into the adjoining rafters. I mention screws because it would seem to be way easier to use a cordless screw gun rather than a hammer in the tight space.

    A second option - depending on what you find ascetically pleasing would be to go ahead and cut a decent sized access hole right where the flue is going through the ceiling. (say 16" x 16" - that would even get my bum through the hole) or what ever size works well with your rafters. Now do your frame-out and get everything set. Replace the original layer of sheet rock - except now you've got a big ugly cut mark in the ceiling. So to cover that, cut one piece of rock bigger - say 24" x 24", sand the edges nice and neat, use some liquid nails for extra adhesion and screw it up centered over the stove pipe. Now cut a second piece of rock at 20" x 20" and do the same thing. Patch up a few screw holes and put on a coat of paint - you'd be set.

    You'd end up with a little stair-step effect where the flue goes through the ceiling - similar to what is called a 'racetrack' ceiling http://www.partnerdrywall.com/racetracks.html This would save you the agony of crawling through 20 feet of insulation - or trying to squeeze through a tiny 12" hole - or trying to patch dry wall on the ceiling for a 100% match.
  3. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    That's a tough one. I had a little house structured somewhat similarly with an inaccessible void space up in that triangle formed by the 12/12 roof. I really think that if I were going to run a chimney up through it, I'd rather have a permanent access to it. The typical push-up hatch can be made to blend in pretty unobtrusively with the ceiling, or wherever. Can you access that space from either of the two ends? As far as moving around up in there, it ain't gonna be fun no matter how you do it, but it has to be framed, so you could lay sheets of plywood or OSB or something along the framing to minimze both the disturbance of the insulation and the odds of stepping through the drywall. Just some initial thoughts. Rick
  4. billb3

    billb3 Minister of Fire

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    My current house has attic access through a closet ceiling.

    At one time access was through a door or window from outside, since boarded up and shingled over with just a small peak vent.
  5. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    I was just talking this over with a builder/friend who's doing some major mods to my home here in Oregon, I really think you ought to run it past your local code authority, whomever that may be. In Oregon, if the space is at all big enough for a person to enter, then it must have access. Basically, a firefighter wearing a tank has to be able to get up in there. Access can be through the interior ceiling, or through the exterior gable end wall. Obviously, there are limits...if you had cathedral ceilings without the cross-framing forming the attic space, so there was nothing but insulation up there and no place for a person to enter, then no access would be required. I think if I was in your situation, especially in light of the fact that you're going to run a woodstove chimney through there, I'd seriously consider a permanent access...and it may be required by code. Rick
  6. dbvanw

    dbvanw New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2008
    Messages:
    8
    Loc:
    The Foothills of Colorado
    Thanks for the feedback and ideas.

    I think I am leaning towards cutting in an attic access in the loft. This way I'll be able to inspect the pipe every year. Also, since I will be installing (2) 30 degree elbows with an 18" pc in between (in order to miss the ridge beam) I'll have to install some strapping/reinforcing which would be almost impossible without being in the attic.

    Once this is done I can start the raised hearth, then to relocate the right window in the picture so that the stove can be centered on the wall and have an equal space between both windows. Then I can start the stone on the back wall, then...

    Who would have thought that the actual stove and pipe install would be the easy part? It's the "prep" work and side projects that are taking all the time, effort and $$$.

    The good news is that the stove appears to be in EXCELLENT shape. I wire brushed it this morning in preperation for paint and I am very happy with what I found (or didn't find).

    Better get to work-

    Dave
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