What’s the point of having an attic if you can’t use it for storage? It’s a good question, and yet it’s common for homeowners to struggle with maintaining a safe temperature in the attic. If it gets too hot or moisture accumulates, the valuable items and family mementos you have stored there might be lost forever.
The key, then, is to understand how to properly manage the climate of your attic so you can use it for storage and prevent your house from overheating in the summer or losing heat in the winter. Here are some things you need to know.
What Temperature Should Your Attic Be?
As a rule, your attic should be approximately the same temperature as the air outside your home. If you try to fight the weather, you may run into problems.
In the summer, attics can overheat. In fact, it’s not uncommon for a 90-degree to translate to temperatures 30 or 40 degrees hotter in the attic. That’s dangerous because the extra heat can damage roof tiles and any items you have stored in the attic.
In the winter, the combination of warm air in the attic (heat from your home will rise) with cold air on the outside can lead to condensation. If you’re not careful, the moisture can accumulate in your insulation, making it less effective
In both seasons, the heat in your attic can make it more expensive to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. An overheated attic in summer can lead to higher air conditioning bills; and if the heat in your home migrates to the attic in winter, your heating bills may increase accordingly.
Insulation is the Answer
How can you keep your attic from overheating? The answer is a simple one – and one you may have overlooked if you have an older home.
In the days when energy costs were lower, most homes were built with six to eight inches of insulation. However, with higher energy costs, most experts recommend installing between 16 and 20 inches of insulation. That might seem like a lot – but it can make a huge difference in the temperature of your attic.
The good news is you don’t have to rip out the old insulation. You can simply blow new insulation on top of it to bring your house up to modern standards.
Most homeowners choose fiberglass or cellulose insulation. Cellulose is more susceptible to moisture damage and may also settle – making it likely you’ll have to reapply it over time.
Other Things to Try
Increasing the insulation in your attic is a good idea, but here are some other things you can do to control the climate and protect your belongings:
- Examine your attic and seal up any cracks or holes that admit air to the attic from your living space. If your attic is sealed from your home, then you won’t have to worry about increased energy bills.
- Proper ventilation can help hot air escape from the attic. The Federal Housing Administration has guidelines for intake and outtake vents based on the size of your home.
- Using radiant barriers either on your roof or under your insulation can reflect some of the sun’s heat away from your home and prevent the attic from overheating.
If you combine these three things with increased insulation, your attic’s temperature will match the outside.
There’s no reason that your attic can’t be a safe and convenient place to store items. If you follow the steps outlined here, you can be sure that your treasured belongings will be safe there all year round.