Hey all! First time poster here but have learned much from this group. I
have a question and need to pick your brains. I want to start storing things
in my attic but there is no heat or air cond. to it. There is two open vents
on each side and that is it. I want to store things such as pictures,
blankets, Christmas lights and such. My question is this: what do I need to
do to make this happen to keep these items safe from damage. I would think
the heat in the summer would be worse than the cold in the winter. There is
no insulation except between the floor joices. I don't want to get into
heating the attic because I cannot afford that kind of a project right now.
your suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
I live in Pittsburgh. cold winters and hot summers.
The heat won't damage most things in the attic. Put everything in
plastic bags or cover them well because dust will cover everything.
Every nook and cranny will have dust in it. If your attic has decent
ventillation then humidity won't be a problem either. This is an
opportunity to inspect the attic and make sure the system is operating
correctly. Also, if you have one of those small hatches for access,
consider expanding it and making a nice opening that you can use for
bigger items. If there's room, a pull down ladder is fairly easy to
install. Check all the dimensions carefully as you might need to cut a
ceiling joist and box in the area.
I had this problem too. This is the initial reason we moved granny up
in the attic... she keeps an eye on the christmas lights and makes sure
they dont overheat.
We havn't put heating or cooling up there yet either, and as it's been
5 years since she went up, I doubt we will, as she hasn't complained
So, I'd say the easiest way to solve your problem is to move grams up
Yes, after the first year there were some gnaw marks on the floor and
walls - grams was insistent that it was done by rats and not by her.
So we told her that if she was so sure there were rats in my house,
that she should hunt them down to live on. And she did; for 3 weeks we
gave her no food or water and she made it through just fine. And now I
don't have a rat problem anymore.
I live in Phoenix and only store things that can handle 170 F temps. Mostly
knocked down cardboard boxes. Pictures especially old ones high heat is not
a good idea. Your area the attic temps would be a little lower like 130 F.
Some plastic becomes pliable at these kind of temps.
Pictures, photos, and paintings will not fare well at all. Keep them on the
main floor. Blankets and lights should be fine, but be sure they are well
boxed and protected from dust and mice. Furniture joints and finishes will
also suffer in the attic.
That brings me to my next question, what has to be done to get to the point
that I can store pictures, photos there. If I add insulation to the ceiling
and/or put a venting fan in there to help dissipate the heat.( I'm not to
worried about the cold) Is there a way of doing this short of a complete
renovation job? I really need the space. The fact that I am one of those
people that never throws "anything" away probably doesn't help.
You could install a powered roof vent fan with a temperature control.
They bring the temperature down fast. In a heavy rain they can pull
moisture into the attic and sometimes the noise bothers people when
they go on in the early evening, but it would not be on much except
11am to dusk where you live on the worst day.
1) Improve attic venting. Consider passive ridge vents and/or the addition
of a power fan with a thermostatic control. Pick a quality, quiet fan. Make
certain that the items that you are storing don't interfer with air flow. For
example, if you have soffet vents then don't block their intended air flow
with the items that you are storing. Etc.
2) Consider purchasing one or more low cost digital thermometers. Place
them on stored items in the attic and periodically check the thermometers.
They should have a memory which records the highest and lowest temps
since the last time you reset the thermometer. This will let you know if
you have adequately improved attic venting. These thermometers are
quite inexpensive and very useful for many applications.
3) Don't waste your effort on adding insulation anywhere in the attic for
the purpose of protecting items stored up there. The dollars are better
spent improving the attic venting.
4) Remember that an unfinished attic such as yours in not engineered for
storage. Of course, almost everybody uses such an attic for storage.
Distribute heavy objects somewhat uniformly in the attic. Obviously your
attic is a bit over-engineered and you are not going to cause problems with
some modest amount of attic storage. Still, avoid too many heavy objects
such as boxes of books, paint cans, etc.
5) Protect against rodents. You don't want them chewing on your stored
blankets and such. Also, you don't want mouse droppings in half of the
cardboard boxes in the attic. I keep 2 baited rat traps and 2 baited mouse
traps in my attic. They are located in a central part of the attic, but in a
spot where I'm not likely to set them off. I glue several large sunflower
seeds on the bait areas and I periodically check the traps to see if they
have been set off or if the bait has been gnawed. FYI - the smell of the
glue does not stop rodents from going for the bait. My favorite is super
6) You will still have to be selective in what you store up there. Don't put
the good holiday candles up there! Also, remember that plastic bags
will break down over time. For our seasonal items, we remove the bags
from the items as we are removing them from the attic and replace with
new bags when the items go back into the attic. I use the super large
recycling bags whenever possible - these are clear and that aides in
identifying stored items. For items which are in "long term storage",
I check the plastic bags every year to make certain that the plastic isn't
7) Start off organized. Put scrap boarding down for walkways so that
you can move around safely and avoid stepping through the ceiling below.
You'll be surprised how much planking your neighbors will put out with
their trash over the course of a single summer. It's free.
Label all boxes on several sides with very large lettering. Plan ahead
and store like items in certain parts of the attic, with frequently needed
items closes to the access hole.
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