You might not think about your attic much since, if you’re like most people, you probably don’t spend a lot of time in it. However, problems in your attic can lead to allergens in your home’s air, less comfortable temperatures in your home, higher energy bills and other issues. To prevent these problems, it’s important that you inspect your attic or hire a professional to inspect your attic at least once a year.
Some common problems in attics include:
- Insulation issues
- Pest infestations
- Poor ventilation
Throughout the life of your home, you should check your attic at least twice a year — once in the spring and once in the fall — to make sure your attic is protected from the extreme summer and winter temperatures. If you are uncomfortable inspecting your attic on your own, you can always hire a professional to inspect, clean and repair your attic for you. Use this guide to learn what attic issues to look for as you complete your attic check.
Poor insulation could result in mold or mildew buildup, rodents sneaking into the house, an uneven distribution of insulation, ice dams on the roof or improper airflow. The following factors could weaken the integrity of your insulation:
- Age: Over time, your insulation takes a hit from allergens, toxins and moisture. You should inspect your insulation at least once a year to protect your home. Depending on how well you maintain your attic, you should replace your insulation at least once every 15 years.
- Pests: If you had pests, you should inspect your insulation. Pests can burrow through your fiberglass insulation and weaken its quality. Droppings from pests can also soil your insulation.
- Ice: When ice forms and melts in the winter, the moisture can damage your insulation and walls.
How to Tell if You Have Poor Insulation
You would know if you had poor insulation if there was an uneven distribution of temperature in your attic. You might have a spot in your attic that is colder than the rest of your attic. You may also see ice dams forming on your roof in certain spots that aren’t properly insulated.
If you have improper insulation, you may also notice a change in your energy bill. Insulation maintains the temperature of your home, so if your insulation is outdated or damaged, your home will have to work harder to keep it warm in the winter and cool in the summer. This can also lead to other issues if you decide to convert your attic into a living space since it will be impossible to keep the space hot in the winter and cool in the summer.
How to Replace Insulation
You can hire a professional company to inspect and install new insulation for your attic or crawl space. Approximately 90% of homes are under-insulated in the United States. A professional can install the right amount of insulation to protect your family from extreme temperatures and shield your home against rodents and moisture.
Pests enjoy burrowing in the attic space because there is less human activity in your attic and they can stay warm during the winter. Pest problems are common in households today, but if you stay on top of your attic maintenance, you can protect your home from these unwanted guests.
Pests carry germs on their skin and excrement. Their droppings can make a mess on your attic floor and can emit harmful germs into the air. If a rodent burrows in your vents, their droppings could also cause allergies and respiratory problems for your family.
How to Tell if You Have Pest Problems
If you have pests in your attic, you may hear noises such as scurrying, scratching, squeaking and chirping. You’ll also likely see excrement or spots of urine on the floor as well as different animal feces on top of the layers of insulation. You may also see bite marks on your wires or walls. Depending on if you have insects, rodents or birds, you may find different types of nests. You may also find tears in the insulation or missing shingles in your roof from animals breaking into your attic.
What Kind of Pests Do I Have in My Attic?
Depending on where you live, your home may be more prone to certain types of pests than others. To properly prevent your attic from an infestation, you should research the types of rodents and insects in your local area that like to burrow into your attic space. Here are ways to identify which animals are in your house:
- Mice: Mice produce rice-shaped feces that is approximately an eighth of an inch in length. They can easily squeeze through small spaces and like to burrow in insulation.
- Rats: Though they are big, rats can squeeze through a space as small as a quarter and can eat through aluminum, wood or metal. Their feces are sausage-shaped and are approximately a quarter of an inch long.
- Raccoons: Raccoons have bigger feet than mice and rats, so instead of scurrying, you’ll hear heavy feet stomping on your attic floors. Raccoons often burrow into attics to give birth, so check your attic for little raccoon babies.
- Possums: Like raccoons, possums are great climbers and they typically burrow in your attic to give birth. When they die, possums also give off a terrible odor, so you’ll need to prevent a possum outbreak in your home as soon as possible.
- Insects: Different bugs and insects are native to different parts of the United States, so you should research which bugs to look out for in your area. Termites like to burrow in sandy areas, for example, so your house may be prone to termites if you live in a coastal area.
- Squirrels: Squirrels like to climb trees throughout the year, and in the winter, they look for a warm place to burrow. Their feces are between a half-inch and an inch long, and since they burrow in tight spaces, you may have difficulty finding and removing them.
- Birds: Birds can fly into any opening in your home and make a nest out of your living space. You’ll hear birds chirping and fluttering in your attic.
- Snakes: Snakes will typically only crawl into your home if they smell their prey — mice and rats — in your home. Most snakes that come into the home are harmless, but they can leave behind a mess.
How to Deal With Each Type of Pest
You can set up traps specifically designed for each type of pest. You should also make sure that your local area doesn’t have specific regulations that prevent you from killing the pests in your attic. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends safely and efficiently cleaning any areas that were infected by pests to control the air quality of your home and prevent your family from developing an illness.
- Mice: Place multiple traps throughout your attic, bating mice with peanut butter.
- Rats: Like with mice, you can place traps throughout your attic. Since rats are bigger than mice, keep in mind that you will need bigger traps for rats.
- Raccoons: Raccoons carry rabies and can become violent when separated from their offspring, so use caution or call in a professional.
- Possums: You can buy special traps to contain possums and call in a professional to remove the cage from your attic.
- Insects: Most insects can be treated with sprays that will destroy nests and exterminate insects on contact. When using these sprays, wear eye and face protection since they often contain chemicals that could hurt you if inhaled.
- Squirrels: You can trap squirrels in cages to remove them from your home safely.
- Birds: To humanely remove birds from your attic, you can shoo them out of your attic with a leaf blower.
- Snakes: You can use traps to remove snakes from your home.
How to Prevent Pests From Entering Your Attic
You can protect your home from pests by hiring a professional to seal any openings in your home and treat your attic with chemicals. We offer rodent control services in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Los Angeles Area and the New York/New Jersey Area.
Drafts can drive up the costs of your energy bills. Your HVAC system will have to work harder to push out hot air in the summer and cold air in the winter. If you have drafts in your house, you may have openings in your home that may let in pests.
How to Tell if You Have Drafts
You should inspect your attic and the access door for any unusual temperatures coming from your attic. Even if you have drafts throughout your entire home, you should begin the inspection of your home in the attic, since the drafts in the attic will have a trickle-down effect into the rest of the house. While inspecting the access door to the attic, check for spaces between the door and the wall. The spacing may create a draft that can travel down into the house.
How to Prevent and Treat Drafts in Your Attic
You can treat drafts by:
- Installing new insulation: Your insulation can cover any cracks or air leaks in your attic.
- Sealing air leaks in uninsulated areas: You can inspect your attic for any air leaks and caulk the cracks you discover. While you can do this project yourself, we recommend hiring a professional to inspect your attic for you. Click here for more information on our air sealing services.
- Replace and repair air ducts: A professional in the attic industry can inspect, repair and replace air ducts in your attic. Air ducts regulate your home temperature and protect the air from leakages. Making sure your air ducts are installed properly with no damage is important to maintaining a draft-free home.
You could control the ventilation in your attic through natural air ventilation, attic fans or roof vents. Proper ventilation increases the energy efficiency of your home in the winter by keeping your house cool and preventing the formation of ice dams. In the summer, ventilation moves hot air out of the attic and prevents moisture buildup.
To properly control the airflow of your attic, you could install an intake vent or a hot air exhaust vent.
- Intake vent: This type of vent allows cool air to come into the attic from the outside. Intake vents are typically installed on the lowest part of the roof near the eaves.
- Hot air exhaust vent: This type of vent allows hot air to exit the attic from the inside. Hot air exhaust vents are typically installed on the highest part of the roof.
Using these vents can help you naturally control the flow of your attic by adhering to the rule that warm air rises.
How Can You Tell if You Have Ventilation Problems in Your Attic?
You have ventilation problems in your attic if your vents are blocked by insulation or other objects. When this happens, air cannot flow freely through your attic, resulting in mold and mildew. Poor ventilation also causes the attic to stay hot in the summer and cold in the winter, increasing the humidity and discomfort of this space.
How to Fix or Install Vents in Your Attic
You can fix the vents in your attic by cleaning them up to allow for clean airflow throughout your home. A professional in the attic industry can inspect your vents and evaluate their airflow. They can also clean your vents and remove any rodent droppings or mold buildup. Proper ventilation will protect your family from allergies and other respiratory issues.
When you install vents in your attic, you should make sure that the vents allow for proper airflow. Insulation should be installed around the vents so that the vents can more effectively control the air in your attic.
How to Control the Ventilation in Your Attic
Throughout the life of your home, you should periodically check your attic’s vents. You could install a QuietCool attic fan to control the airflow of your attic while cleaning the air of odor, smoke and germs. We also offer a QuietCool Whole House Fan to regulate the temperature and ventilation of your living space.
You could also install an HVAC system in your attic to improve the air quality of your home. HVAC systems also prevent mold and mildew buildup and protect your family from allergies.
Insulation, whether fiberglass or cellulose, has vapor barriers that are supposed to protect your attic from leaks. If your insulation has aged or suffered damage, water could make its way into your home from the outside. Moisture accumulation is common in cold temperatures because air holds less moisture in a colder environment.
Your household appliances that use water could cause moisture buildup in your attic, even if they are in a different part of the house. Household items that produce an excess amount of water — like humidifiers, washing machines, dryers, dishwashers and showers — may send moisture into the atmosphere if they have not been properly maintained. Even breathing can add to the moisture in the air because our breath is filled with moisture.
Moisture can travel from different parts of the house. Although the foundation and the walls of our homes may look dry, when the temperature drops, moisture from the foundation and slab walls could make its way into the attic. Check your house for gaps and other ways that moisture can come in from the outside.
How Do You Know if You Have Moisture in Your Attic?
Poor insulation could cause mold and mildew buildup in your attic. If your insulation was improperly installed or damaged due to age, leaks could infiltrate the insulation and mold could develop. Mold and mildew can cause health problems for you and your family if they are not treated as soon as possible.
Improper insulation could also result in ice dams on the roof. While icicles may look pretty, an excess amount of water and ice on your roof could result in damage. If you see ice dams on your roof, you may have improper insulation in that part of the attic.
As you inspect your attic, check for mold and mildew buildup and ice dams, as well as rust, moist insulation and marks on the floor or walls. Rust would be visible on any metal you have in your attic. Moist insulation and water marks indicate that you have a leak in your attic.
You could also check your roof for damage to the shingles or the roof’s sheathing. If your attic is not properly insulated, moisture could ruin the integrity of your roof. You should take the proper precautions to fix the moisture in your attic and to prevent moisture from coming into your attic again.
How Can You Fix Moisture in Your Attic?
To take care of the moisture in your attic, you need to start at the source. If you have appliances that are producing an excess amount of water, consider replacing them or hiring a professional to fix them. You could also seal the cracks and openings in your home where moisture could enter from the outside.
A professional in the attic and crawl space industry can inspect your attic and remove any mold or mildew buildup. Hiring a professional to clean mold from your attic can prevent allergies in your home and enable your family could sleep better at night, knowing that they are breathing in clean, safe air.
How Can You Prevent Moisture From Entering Your Attic in the Future?
Once you take care of the moisture buildup in your attic, take steps to prevent moisture from damaging your home in the future. Installing an HVAC system can help you control the temperature of your attic and improve your home’s air quality. You can also hire a professional attic inspector to help you take precautions against ice dam formation on your roof.
To prevent mold and mildew buildup, make sure that your insulation is in good shape and add an air seal along with your insulation. You could also improve the air ventilation in your attic to better control airflow. Of course, hiring a professional is the most efficient way to deal with moisture buildup in your attic.
Let Atticare Help You With Your Attic Maintenance
Atticare will help you sort through your attic issues to make your is home healthier and more energy-efficient. Our team of trustworthy professionals will help you care for your attic and roof from start to finish. By sanitizing and refreshing your attic, we will provide you with cleaner air while saving you money on your energy bills.
With locations in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Los Angeles Area and the New York/New Jersey Area, we provide professional attic cleaning, inspection and ventilation services. Our Diamond-Certified Company Report tells of our excellent customer loyalty and helpful expertise. Through our competitor quote comparison tool, you will see that you can trust our fair prices and get the best use of your money. Fill out an inquiry online or call 866-692-5449 for more information.