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Q. Walking on Attic Cellulose

A lot of the attics in my area are being insulated with loose-fill cellulose, which is typically piled much deeper than the framing. What’s the best way to move around in this kind of space, and will disturbing the cellulose damage its R-value?

A.Michael Uniacke, an insulation and hvac contractor in Prescott, Ariz., responds: The answer to the first part of your question is “very cautiously.” If possible, I grab an overhead truss or rafter before stepping onto the buried framing. In addition to making it much easier to keep your balance, that centers you in relation to the framing and makes it easier to find with your foot. Probe the area carefully and don’t commit to the next step until you know you’re on solid lumber. If you’re not sure of your balance, you can bring along a piece of 2x10 that’s long enough to span three framing members and use it as a moveable walkway; the cellulose will easily compress under your weight until it rests on the framing.

Energy efficiency is important to me, so I smooth the surface out behind me on my way out. I find that most subs who go into an attic don’t bother. But because cellulose tends to spring back after being stepped on, the effect of a few footprints on the overall R-value is minimal, as long as you fill in the places where cellulose has been cleared away to provide access to the ceiling.