17 Things You Should Never Store in Your Attic
Yes, there is a bad place to stash a fire extinguisher.
Even if your attic isn't exactly a showpiece, it's still a pivotal part of your home when it comes to extra space. However, in many houses—particularly older ones without climate control—using your attic space as a personal storage unit is a "solution" that might create more problems than it solves.
By stashing stuff in your home's top level, you can irreparably ruin clothing, damage furniture, and even nullify safety devices. So, before you make such grave mistakes, read on to discover which of your possessions you should never, ever store in your attic.
Wool Clothing and Blankets
While your attic may seem like a safe place to keep any sweaters and wool blankets until the winter rolls around, storing them in an attic might eventually render them unusable.
"Heat, humidity, and cold can wreak havoc on your fabric items," says Karin Socci, a Master Certified KonMari Consultant and owner of The Serene Home. "This is even more true for things made out of natural fibers, such as wool." What's more, attics are notorious havens for pests like moths and carpet beetles, which can quickly lay waste to your precious goods.
If you're storing electronics in your attic, you might be unpleasantly surprised to find them less-than-functional in the future. According to agricultural engineer B.R. Stewart, attics without air conditioning can reach up to 160 degrees Fahrenheit on a hot day. And that's way too hot for your electronics to survive. Apple recommends using their computers at between 50 and 95 degrees, while other devices, like TVs and phones, can easily overheat or even warp if left in intense heat.
Your holidays might just be a lot less merry this year if you've been storing your decorations in the attic. "Holiday decorations can be damaged by the extreme heat in attics," says professional organizer Susan Santoro, founder of organizing website Organized31. "Delicate fabrics and items that are painted are particularly prone to damage when stored in the attic," and plastic decorations, like ornaments, may melt or warp in the heat.
Hoping to keep your home safe with a fire extinguisher? You might want to find a more climate-controlled space than your attic to store it in. According to fire safety company Kidde, storing one in a space hotter than 120 degrees Fahrenheit can reduce the lifespan of a fire extinguisher—and may even shorten the discharge time.
That antique armoire your grandmother gave you deserves a more temperate climate than your attic can offer. Under intense heat, wood can warp. And if your attic isn't finished, pests can damage those precious pieces.
If you're hoping to pass down any beloved paintings to the next generation, make sure you're not storing them in your attic. "[Art] can be damaged by pests…and by extreme temperature changes in the attic," says Santoro.
"You usually don't want to store instruments in an attic because the heat rises and there's humidity there," says Lucas Workman, brass repair technician at Siegfried's Call, a New York-based horn outfitter. Unless your attic is climate controlled, "it's not the best place to store wood or string instruments in particular. This is especially true if the instrument's been sitting in a fabric case."
Want to keep that cherished leather chair pristine? Make sure you're not storing it in your attic. According to Santoro, leather is particularly susceptible to temperature fluctuations, and it can become stained by moisture in humid environments or begin to crack under overly-dry conditions.
That emergency stash of candles you've been keeping on-hand for blackouts won't do you much good if you stash them in your attic. The above-average temperatures in an unfinished attic during the summer could leave you with a melted mess of wax instead.
Temperature fluctuations in your attic might mean that your next paint job is more of a disaster than a masterpiece. Both heat and cold can change the consistency of paint. And, if the can isn't tightly sealed, high temperatures may cause it to dry out quickly.
If you're storing any flammable chemicals—whether for cleaning, photography, or home repair—you're going to want to keep them out of your attic. "Flammable or hazardous items should not be stored in the attic with extreme temperatures… These items can cause a fire within your home," says Santoro. "Hazardous chemicals can also leak from containers exposed to extreme temperatures."
Those cardboard boxes stacked up in your attic could become a veritable buffet for pests if you're not careful. "Pests are attracted to the cardboard and to the glue used in construction of the box," says Santoro. "Boxes also break down and disintegrate, which will attract pests even more."
If you're thinking of storing your kids' crayons and craft glue in the attic for future use, think again. Those high temperatures in your attic have the potential to melt those crayons, dry out that glue, and send you on a mad dash to the craft store.
Using a hot and stuffy attic as your own personal glam room? You might want to reconsider. In addition to potentially melting any precious products, humidity can also spur the growth of mold in natural or preservative-free formulas.
If you want to keep those beloved books in good condition, keep them out of your attic, says Santoro. "Extremes in temperature in the attic, and moisture and pests…can damage keepsake items made of paper," she says.
Those spare batteries may not be long for this world if you're keeping them in a hot, humid attic. According to Duracell, the prime environment for batteries is somewhere dry and room temperature. At high temperatures like the ones you might find in your attic, batteries can rapidly lose power or may even start leaking, potentially setting you up for a chemical burn.
While keeping prescription refills or extra OTC medication in your attic may seem like a smart way to keep them out the reach of children, doing so can cause a whole lot of problems. In addition to gel capsules potentially melting in the heat, some medications may lose their efficacy when stored at high temperatures. And to curb additional storage mistakes, learn all about these 33 Items You're Storing All Wrong.
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