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The term attic access incorporates a number of things, all of which let people enter the attic space. Attic access might be an airtight, framed panel or a set of pull-down stairs. It can even be a door from a closet into the rafter area.
Attic access is important for several practical reasons in addition to its storage potential. It's important for a home inspector to be able to get up to the attic in order to evaluate the insulation, ventilation and/or overall health of the ceiling joists. An inspection of the attic will also sometimes show evidence of moisture, where there are leaking eaves and chimney flashing leaks. Some attics house heating and cooling equipment. In those cases, attic access is especially important so that technicians can service this equipment.