Can/should I add insulation underneath stationary stairs to my attic?
We recently bought a house built in 1920 in southern ontario (the climate varies from -30C to +40C) with an attic accessible via a permanent staircase. For the most part, the attic has good insulation (sorry, I don't know the exact R value). The previous owners did spray insulation underneath the attic floor and there is fiberglass insulation stuffed around other places.
The problem is that I think our staircase is a major source of heat loss. The entranceway to our house is underneath these stairs and it's always the coldest part of the house. Furthermore, when you first walk into the attic stairs (see pictures), it is quite warm. It's not cold until you walk up right into the attic. Finally, we recently had snowfall and saw that the snow on the roof directly above the attic stairs melted before any other snow did.
I pried up a floorboard on the attic stair landing and looked inside. It appears completely hollow.
QUESTION: Can I shove fiberglass insulation or spray insulation into this area to help with heat loss or is it supposed to be hollow underneath stairs?
Spaces between conditioned spaces do not need to be insulated but they do need to blocked off from outside airflow. If the attic is vented, they need to be blocked off with rigid foam (with an approved ignition/thermal barrier).
I am having a bit of a difficult time piecing together the pictures. Any chance you can get some wider shots?
Without an insulated door/hatch at the top of the stairs, you need to insulate the stair walls, floor, risers/treads, and door since they are coupled to the interior conditioned spaces. You have an effective stairwell heat-sink there... the reason it is warm when you step inside the well. You have no thermal boundary established, air-seal the attic first; http://oee.nrcan.gc.ca/publications/residential/9373
I didn't see one but I didn't even think to recommend that. Thought it would have been a standard.
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