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Home Care Library

Why Would I Ever Want to go Up In My Attic???


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If you are like most people, going up in your attic is probably as far down on your list of things to do in March as you can probably put it. But for saving energy and protecting your home, it is important that you do the proper maintenance for your attic either yourself, or bring in a professional do it for you. And March is a good time to go up there, before your attic gets too hot.

This article discusses the following for your attic:
  • Annual Maintenance Tasks

  • Operating Tips

  • Improvement Projects


ANNUAL MAINTENANCE TASKS


Doing the necessary routine maintenance tasks for your attic is important for: 1) maintaining the energy efficiency of your home; 2) protecting your home from pests and water damage; and 3) extending the life of your roof. The following are the maintenance tasks that you should do at least once a year for your attic:

 

Vents and fans:

You should inspect your attic vents and clean out any obstructions. And if you have an attic fan, you should clean the fan blades thoroughly, and check that they turn freely. If the fan is obstructed by leaves or bird's nests, you may have to climb on top of the roof to dislodge them. If your fan motor has oil ports, then put a few drops of machine oil in each location.

Your attic space sits between the insulation in your ceiling (the floor of the attic) and your roof. If air circulation in your attic not adequate, then your attic will be too warm in the winter and too hot in the summer. This area being too warm in the winter can lead to the formation of ice dams in snowy climates. And this area being too hot in summer means your air conditioner will have to work harder and use more energy. Further, if your attic is humid, it can lead to dangerous mold formation.

 

Insulation movement:

Your attic insulation should be inspected to ensure that it has not shifted out of place, and no openings have been created where heat can pass through. Poorly placed insulation not only means your heating and cooling systems have to work harder (which costs you more money for energy and shortens their service lives), but also in snowy climates, heat loss to a roof can lead to the formation of ice dams on your roof, which can cause water damage inside your home. You should inspect your attic insulation at least every five years.

 

Leaks and pest openings:

This task involves inspecting your attic for evidence of water leaks. Look for signs of water staining on the underside of the roof boards. Indications of high humidity are dark spots on wood, rotting, mildew and fungus. Look as well for any cracks or openings to the outside that can allow the entry of bats, squirrels and other pests; and look for any opening to the inside of your house where heat or cooling can escape.

 

Exposed wiring:

Mice and other rodents can be attracted to chewing on electrical wiring, which can become a fire hazard. So it is good practice to look for any indications of damaged wiring.

 

Structural damage:

Inspect your rafters and trusses for cracked, broken, and sagging sections. Anything that looks unusual should be brought to the attention of a trained professional.

 

Roof decking:

Check to see if the roof decking is warped, water stained, deteriorated or discolored.

 

Kitchen or bath exhaust fan ducting is leaking into the attic:

Ducting for these vents are often routed through attic spaces, and if the ducts come loose, you can have humid air from your bathroom etc. being vented into your attic space. This needs to be corrected immediately, as this can lead to serious problems with mold formation.

 

HVAC ductwork:

Check to see if you have any ductwork going through your attic which may be be leaking air conditioned or heated air into your attic space.

 

Attic stairs:

If you have pull-down stairs for your attic, then inspect that they are not coming loose.
 

OPERATING TIPS


The following are some operating tips you should consider concerning your attic.

 

Avoid going up in the winter or summer:

Your attic can be very cold in winter and hot during summer. If you want to do any attic maintenance task or home improvement projects, it is best to do them in a month like March when it is neither too hot nor too cold.

 

Wear the right gear:

Attics are not made for walking casually around, so you will want to be prepared accordingly: 1) Wear a dust mask to protect yourself from breathing dust, insulation fibers, pest droppings, etc.; 2) Wear lightweight disposable coveralls and gloves to keep insulation off of your skin and clothes; 3) Roofs typically will have nails sticking down through them into the attic, so you might want to consider wearing a hard hat in your attic to protect your head; and 4) If you need to crawl around to inspect your attic, then you might want wear knee pads (see types, costs, and reviews of: dust masks; disposable coveralls; gloves; hard hats; knee pads).

 

Plan before you enter your attic:

Gather all your tools and supplies before you start, to minimize trips in and out of the attic.

 

Make sure it is well-lit:

You will want to bring a strong flashlight or drop-light to be sure you can adequately see what you are doing in your attic (see types, costs, and reviews of flashlights and drop lights). 
 

HOME IMPROVEMENT PROJECTS


Here are some home improvement projects for your attic, which can help you save energy, etc:

 

Adding insulation:

With the exception of newer home construction, almost every home can benefit from adding attic insulation. Additional insulation can help reduce both your heating and cooling bills, and can help make your home feel more comfortable by helping to reduce temperature gradients.

 

Installing a solar powered fan:

The attic can get very hot and humid in the summertime. Solar-powered attic fans are a new innovation, which use the power of the sun to drive a fan which ventilates your attic space: Solar Attic Fan

 

Adding an insulated cover for your attic access panel:

Most attic access points have little or no insulation to prevent heat loss. In addition to reducing heat losses, adding an “attic tent” over you attic access panel can also reduce the movement of dust and allergens from the attic: Attic Tent Cover / Insulator

 

Install a drop down attic ladder:

If you use areas of your attic for storage, then you may want to consider adding a drop-down attic ladder: Folding Attic Stairs
 

SUMMARY


After reading this article, hopefully it has helped you understand the importance of doing the proper routine maintenance for your attic, and it has provided you with some helpful ideas for operating tips and home improvement projects for your attic. If you are not comfortable doing any of these tasks yourself, then it is best to bring in a professional.

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