Most home owners rarely go into their attics…Until the holiday season starts and they start hauling down the decorations! The holidays are actually a great time to look around for anything in the attic that needs to be cleaned or repaired. Once the boxes of decorations are removed, home owners can see around the space enough to notice any damage. Doing this regularly can help home owners tackle problems while they are still small and inexpensive, rather than after they have spread to other parts of the home and become a major problem.
Old or Damaged Insulation
One of the first things homeowners should look at during attic cleaning is the insulation. If there is any damage from water infiltration or rodent infestations, it’s important to have the damaged repaired as quickly as possible. For starters, old or damaged insulation can have a significant – and negative – impact on utility bills.
Water leaks are a common cause of insulation damage. Leaks can cause mold, which can spread throughout the house if not remedied. If home owners do find mold or any other unknown organic substances, it’s highly recommended that they contact a professional for further testing and remediation. Mold can be toxic, so it should be abated in a professional manner so that it does not cause health problems.
Attic cleaning during the holidays can also reveal tiny “pellets” – one of the first signs that mice or other rodents have found a home in the attic. Rats, squirrels, raccoons and other animals can enter the home through the eaves, loose boards, or gaps around pipes, so make sure that there are no holes. The spaces don’t have to be big, either. Mice can fit through holes the size of a dime, and rats can squeeze through openings the size of a quarter.
In addition to leaving behind disease-carrying excrement, rodents can chew through wires, pipes and duct work, causing thousands of dollars in damage. Some estimates have found that rodents chewing through electrical wires are responsible for somewhere between 15,000 and 25,000 residential fires every year. Many of these tragedies could be prevented by vigilant home owners who regularly inspect their attics for signs of vermin.
During the attic cleaning process, home owners should also make sure that all vents are clear and the air is able to flow freely. Trapped air can cause condensation, which is another breeding ground for mold.
Soffit vents can become blocked at the rear by insulation, so home owners should make sure that baffles are in place to keep them clear. In addition, the sheeting under ridge vents should be cut back by at least three inches to ensure proper air flow. Roof vents can also become blocked by bird and animal nests, so those needs to be inspected and cleaned out, if necessary. Bath fans must be vented to the outside, otherwise moist air is released into and trapped by the attic.
An annual attic cleaning and inspection is probably not high on most home owners’ lists. But it makes sense to tackle it during the holidays when they are already making multiple trips to the attic to retrieve stored items. As ignored as the space usually is, the attic is an important part of the home and is often the first place to show signs of needed repairs.
See also: Is it Safe to Store Items in the Attic?
Photo Credit: Attic Maxx