Is it Safe to Store Things in the Attic
It can be difficult to part with many of the items we collect over the years. Old photos, books, baby clothes, and gifts with sentimental value add to the clutter. Rather than donating or throwing things away, many of these items are stashed in out-of-the-way storage spaces. The attic provides the most convenient space for getting rid of clutter without having to agonize over whether it’s time to finally part with it.
It’s convenient, out of the way, and has lots of spare space that’s going to waste, making storing items in your attic an appealing proposition. Many everyday items can be stored perfectly safely in the attic, but some items should never find their way up there.
As a local attic cleaning service in the Greater Bay Area, we often find items that have been ruined by the attic environment. We also come across our fair share of materials that can make the attic hazardous to human health and life. Before you store anything in the attic, always ask yourself if the attic is the safest place for it.
Use these tips from a professional attic cleaning service to help you decide what you should and shouldn’t store in your attic.
Items You Should Never Store in Your Attic
The items listed below should be thrown away or taken to a landfill or recycling site rather than stored in the attic.
Highly Flammable Materials
Nothing highly flammable should be stored in the attic. Should anything catch alight, the fire can burn undetected for a long time before smoke makes its way into an area with a smoke alarm.
While you can get attic insulation that is flame retardant, the rest of the building materials have no such protection. Flames can quickly spread to the rafters, joists, walls, and other roofing materials before you realize that you and your family are in danger. Packages containing flammable materials will state that on the label. If you can’t identify a product, always assume it’s not safe and discard it.
Paints and Cleaning Products
You should never store paint, cleaning products, or any other toxic substances in the attic. Many of them are highly flammable (see above). Most will also off-gas and fill the attic with potentially hazardous fumes.
These dangerous gases can easily find their way into your living spaces via your home’s HVAC ducts. Fumes degrade the air quality, and breathing these harmful substances, even in small volumes, may lead to health issues and breathing problems over time.
The best location for storing toxic chemicals is outside the home, preferably in a detached shed or garage. Learn more about how to keep your household safe by reading FEMA’s excellent guide on dealing with toxic chemicals.
An unfinished attic is not a safe place for artwork. The unconditioned environment, with its fluctuating humidity and temperature levels, is hostile to fabric, wooden frames, and paint.
Pests will also ruin the art through chewing and urine stains. You should consider giving away or selling artwork that has monetary or sentimental value to someone who will enjoy it. Otherwise, ensure it is always stored in a conditioned environment.
Paper Documents, Books, and Cardboard Boxes
An attic environment won’t be kind to books and paper documents. The humidity and extreme temperature changes will quickly degrade the paper. Paper absorbs moisture, so mold is likely to grow on your books and paper files and can spread to other areas. It might be possible to store these items safely if you place them in an airtight container or vacuum storage bag.
Other items vulnerable to heat and moisture in the attic include fire extinguishers, batteries, electronic items, and wooden furniture.
Consider selling valuable antiques that you find visually unappealing, rather than ruin them for everybody by storing them in the attic. Perhaps a friend or family member would love to have it in their home.
Don’t store anything in cardboard boxes in the attic. Cardboard is an excellent source of nutrition for mold and mildew. It sucks up moisture like a sponge, which will spread to and ruin the contents. Good-quality, sealed plastic totes are an excellent alternative to cardboard boxes as they are impervious to moisture.
Fabrics, Clothing, Blankets, and Rugs
Silk, linen, wool, and other natural fabrics won’t do well in the attic environment. These materials are especially susceptible to rats, mice, moths, and carpet beetles. Pests have voracious appetites and will soon leave you with not much more than a box full of dusty fabric scraps.
Wool is a thirsty material that will absorb the humidity and stay moist for a long period of time. Even if you don’t have any other moisture problems in the attic, storing woolen products could create the perfect environment for mold to take hold.
People love storing old saddles and old leather furniture in the attic, but this is the best way to ruin them. Consider selling an old saddle you have no further use for and donating or selling leather furniture and clothing. Leather needs care and maintenance to prevent it from drying out and cracking, and it provides an excellent surface for mold.
Looking for an Attic Cleaning Service Near You?
If it’s been some time since you were last in your attic, it’s most likely a dusty, grimy mess up there. If you also regularly throw stuff into attic storage, the likelihood of rodent infestation is high.
Crawling around a dusty, cramped attic may not be your idea of fun. Fortunately, you don’t have to. We provide a professional attic cleaning service near you to help you sort through the mess, rodent proof your attic, and replace insulation if required.
We will also examine your attic to check for damage, check the condition of your insulation, and look for signs of rodents. Not only do you get a convenient attic decontamination service, but you also benefit from professional advice about how to keep your attic in good order.