Inspected Your Attic Lately? Use These Attic Safety Tips
Attics can easily become cluttered, dusty, and forgotten places in a home. It’s never too late to check your attic, but it is important to do so regularly to ensure that it is safe and free of any potential hazards.
The average attic is cramped, dusty, and full of hazards, so use these attic safety tips for working in cramped, dusty rooms.
Why Attics Need Regular Checkups
It’s not much fun working in the attic, but its condition is critical to the wellbeing of your home’s infrastructure. It’s the first place roof leaks will show up, but routine maintenance and cleaning will also locate moisture, mold, and mildew problems before they get out of control.
Insulation can quickly degrade if attic conditions have deteriorated. An attic is critical to your home’s ventilation and cooling, so a checkup will reveal whether vents are free and clear, and in good working order.
Practice Safety First With These Attic Safety Tips
An attic can contain all sorts of hazards, especially if you live in an older home. There may be asbestos in vermiculite insulation, floating fiberglass fibers, and mold spores. You want to make sure you are well protected against breathing dangerous contaminants into your lungs.
Wear Protective Clothing and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)
If you suspect your insulation is vermiculite (it looks like small pebbles), it’s critical that you leave it undisturbed and call in a professional insulation service to stay safe. Some vermiculite may contain asbestos, but don’t panic; it’s perfectly safe if you don’t disturb it.
Don’t muck around in an attic you think has asbestos insulation, even with protective gear. Otherwise, you should still make sure you protect yourself against airborne contaminants with:
- N95 face mask to protect against airborne particles
- Long sleeved shirt
- Long pants
- Safety glasses or goggles
Remember, if the insulation has been in place since the 1980s, there’s a reasonable chance it contains asbestos. Always be on the safe side and call the attic professionals for older homes.
Attic conditions don’t warrant a hard hat, but you do want some protection against bumps and scrapes. A hoodie or baseball cap will provide plenty of protection against any protruding nails that may be punched through the building material. These errant nails are known in the building trade as “ringers.”
If you do notice any ringers in your attic, you’ll want to call a roofing expert to have a look, as they can cause leaks and moisture penetration. Moisture in your attic is a leading cause of a lot of issues, such as mold, mildew, wood rot, and attracting thirsty rodents that love warm, humid conditions.
Attic Safety in an Unfinished Attic
When an attic is not designed to be a livable space, it’s an unfinished attic. This means that the walls, floors, and ceilings have not been upgraded to livable conditions. Wall studs and ceiling rafters are exposed, and floor joists are usually covered with plywood or not. This is what makes unfinished attics a great place to store unwanted junk you aren’t ready to throw out or donate.
Sometimes, you may not even have plywood over the floor joists, which can make moving around the attic a little tricky. A ceiling is not engineered to take any load, so make sure you only step on the floor joists.
Unfinished attics are not likely to have lighting, so take a headlamp with you. Headlamps are far more convenient than a flashlight because they free both of your hands. A work light you can hang somewhere is a decent alternative, as long as it can provide adequate lighting. You will need your hands for balance when moving over exposed floor joists.
As you move about your attic, keep an eye out for the following signs that all is not as it should be:
- Evidence of condensation, water damage, mold, and mildew
- Exposed wiring
- Light coming through the shingles
- Signs of rodents (damaged insulation, pee stains, and feces)
Keep your nose on high alert. If you or the previous owners stored paint or chemicals in the attic, they can off-gas and fill the area with toxic vapors. These toxic fumes can also invade your living space and degrade your air quality. Over time, they can cause eye, airway, and lung damage, even when you are not aware of them.
It’s always a good idea to have a look in the attic when you buy a new home, just so you know what’s up there and whether it needs dealing with. Be suspicious of bottles without labels or old labels you can’t read. A licensed attic clean-up crew is always the safest course for dealing with mysterious chemicals.
Attic Safety When You Think You Have Pests
There are more pests to invade your attic than the furry, four-legged varieties. Bees, wasps, and other flying insects find attics to be the perfect hiding places.
If you hear any buzzing or feel the soft breeze of a bee or wasp fly past, you should carefully back out of the attic and call the attic pest and rodent professionals.
You do not want a hive of angry bees or wasps chasing you around a dark, cramped space. Nothing short of a hazmat suit will save you from that pain.
Pests that may take up residence in your attic include:
You might not consider birds as much of a pest. However, their moist droppings can spread harmful bacteria and add moisture for other undesirables to grow. The droppings will also spread particulate matter through the HVAC system and into your living space, where you will breathe it in.
A regular attic inspection is the best way to ensure there are no problematic conditions in your attic that can spread to the rest of your home. You can perform a regular checkup yourself when you are armed with the attic safety tips above and the right safety gear. However, if you aren’t comfortable moving around a dark, cramped, and possibly unsafe space, call the attic decontamination professionals to do a thorough inspection for you.