Avoid Storing These Items in Your Attic
Storing certain items in the attic could lead to damaging them irreversibly. Consider these alternative storage suggestions.
While having an attic provides added storage space and helps keep your main living area tidy, mindlessly placing items there can pose issues.
Firstly, it’s easy to lose track of what’s stored in the attic, leading to unnecessary purchases as you rebuy items you already own. Additionally, attics (unless maintained) can become hot and humid, posing risks of damage from heat, mold, and mildew. Pests are also frequently found in these spaces.
If your attic is renovated and temperature-regulated, it offers more flexibility when it comes to storage options. Although you may know some obvious storage precautions, like avoiding keeping food there, there might be items you’d be surprised shouldn’t be stored there. Along with reasons to avoid storing certain items in the attic, alternative storage recommendations are also offered.
Know Your Attic
When determining what to keep in the attic, two primary concerns arise: the sweltering heat during summer and potential dampness in winter.
Ideally, attic temperatures should only be 10 to 20 degrees above the temperature outside. However, in reality, they can spike much higher, even reaching 150 degrees Fahrenheit or beyond, especially in hotter climates.
The dampness concern is more prevalent in colder seasons. The warm air from heating the home rises to the attic and meets the colder air near the roof, leading to moisture formation. This moisture can become frost in winter and then melt in spring, causing further condensation. While insulation can help regulate home temperature and save on heating costs, if not installed correctly, it can hinder proper ventilation.
Signs of these issues include a musty smell, visible water droplets, or experiencing extreme temperatures in the attic. If items in the attic display mold or mildew, that’s also a clear indicator. To protect your possessions, remove affected items and anything else potentially at risk.
Storing cherished collections or old schoolbooks in the attic is not advisable for multiple reasons. Increased moisture can lead to rapid mold and mildew growth on book covers and pages. Also, silverfish, which thrive in warm and damp conditions, love feeding on paper and adhesives found in book bindings. Just imagine how distressing it would be to find these pests when reaching for an old book!
As an alternative, consider decluttering and only keeping essential books. Display those chosen tomes on shelves in the living room or in your study. Additionally, avoid keeping important documents or photographs in the attic to safeguard them.
Generally, it’s best to avoid storing any fabrics in the attic. This is especially true for materials like wool, linen, and silk. Pests common in attics, such as moths, mice, and carpet beetles, are drawn to these fabrics, and many fibers, including cotton and suede, can mildew in humid conditions. Leather items can also become brittle and develop an unpleasant odor, so it’s best to exclude them as well. Similarly, refrain from keeping spare rugs and bedding in the attic.
Rather than relegating out-of-season clothing or future heirlooms to the attic, it’s a better idea to find storage in accessible parts of your home. Arrange labeled containers in closets, tuck rugs under beds, or utilize storage benches for blankets. Also, consider methods for temporary mattress storage.
Though you might not typically store these items side by side, both candles and crayons share a vulnerability: they can melt in elevated temperatures, leading to a challenging cleanup.
Rather than risking it, store unused candles in a cabinet or closet within a temperature-regulated room. As for leftover crayons, gather them in containers in the playroom or crafting area, making them easily accessible for children to swap out damaged ones.
4. Musical Instruments
Taking a break from that musical pastime? Even if you intend to revisit it later, storing instruments in the attic isn’t wise. Mold and mildew can infiltrate them, posing health risks, especially for wind instruments. Instruments made of wood can deform in extreme heat, and their cases — particularly those with fabric linings — are prone to mold, mildew, and bug infestations.
A better approach is to store them in a temperature-regulated, low-humidity area of your home. If you have extra space, think about designating it as a music area, or tuck the instruments in their cases in a seldom-used closet.
5. Seasonal Decor
While many view the attic as a convenient spot for stashing holiday decorations until the next season, it’s smart to reconsider. Given that many decorations are made from fabric and paper, the attic might not be the most suitable storage space. The same caution applies to home decor, including artwork susceptible to fading or pest damage, and wooden items prone to warping in high heat.
Instead, reevaluate items that no longer align with your taste and find spots to display those you cherish. Organize decorations by holiday in clearly marked bins, placing them on garage shelving or in a basement with a stable climate. If you have a lot of stuff and you’re hesitant to let go of it all, consider investing in a climate-controlled storage unit as an alternative.
6. Important Keepsakes
Items that are irreplaceable and hold sentimental value shouldn’t be stored in the attic. This includes not just photos but also home videos, cherished keepsakes, vintage treasures, and family heirlooms. The unpredictable climate of the attic makes it an unsuitable storage spot for such precious items.
As an alternative, consider using a bookcase or TV cabinet to store and display photos and videos so you can access them easily. Stash cherished cards and letters in memory boxes, placed on an upper shelf in a closet. As for family heirlooms, either incorporate them into your home’s decor or check with a family member who might appreciate having them in their space.
7. Anything Flammable or Toxic
Storing certain items in the attic poses significant risks, particularly chemicals. The gasses they release can infiltrate HVAC systems, affecting living areas below. In addition, fires can rapidly spread through attics, with flames reaching rafters and descending down house walls. While paint might seem benign, some varieties, like oil-based or aerosol paints, can ignite in high temperatures. Unstable attic environments might also compromise paint’s quality or cause it to dry up.
For safety, store hazardous materials outside the main living area, like in a shed or a separate garage. If managed correctly, leftover paint can be stored in the basement, away from heat sources.
8. Batteries and Electronic Items
Extended exposure to elevated temperatures can harm electronics, causing them to malfunction. Heat may reduce battery life and even lead them to corrode, posing risks like potential explosions.
Consider disposing of outdated electronics at a nearby recycling center and store infrequently used ones in a more accessible location downstairs. Store spare batteries in a miscellaneous drawer or a utility closet for easy family access.
9. Fire Extinguishers
While it’s essential to eliminate fire risks from the attic, storing a fire extinguisher there isn’t advisable. Many manufacturers of these crucial safety devices indicate that they shouldn’t be exposed to temperatures exceeding 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Some attics can surpass this during the hottest months. At best, such heat could diminish the extinguisher’s effectiveness, and at worst, though infrequent, the extinguisher could rupture.
Every household should have a dedicated fire extinguisher in the kitchen, where many fires start. It’s also wise to place one on upper floors and in the laundry area to address potential fires, like those stemming from obstructed dryer vents.