Should you use your attic for storage? The Answer is No, and Here’s Why You May Want to Think Twice.
Our home collects our memories, our travels and sometimes a lot of our belongings. After some time, the spaces begin to fill up and we look for storage in every room and every corner. We see places such as our basements and attics as perfect storage rooms for our clothes and holiday decorations. Although putting boxes away is great for keeping your home clean and organized, storing them in your attic is more dangerous then you may think.
Here is what a roofer would say when asked if one should store items in their attic.
The answer: No. Do not ever store items in your attic space. The reason is linked with your home’s insulation and ventilation.
First let me explain what role your attic plays in your roof’s life expectancy. The attic is the heart and lifeline of your roof. A well ventilated and insulated attic will assist the roof in providing protection from the crazy New England weather. Attic ventilation works on the principle that heated air naturally rises, primarily utilizing two types of vents:
Intake vents, located at the lowest part of the roof under the eaves, allow cool air to enter the attic. Hot air exhaust vents, located at the peak of the roof, allow hot air to escape.
Taking advantage of this natural process, referred to as passive ventilation, is the most common way to vent an attic. In order to facilitate this exchange of warm and cool air, the general rule of thumb suggests installing at least 1 sq.ft. of vent for every 300 sq.ft. of attic floor. Building codes vary, though, so check with your local building authority for the specifics that pertain to your community.
The way the attic is kept cool by its air intake in the eves of the attic and its air outtake in the ridge and peak of the attic room reduces the danger of iced dams, and unwanted leaks that can lead to rot and decay of your home’s wood and plywood.
Where do homeowners go wrong?
Many fall short when they decide to use their attic as a storage room. Using your attic as storage disrupts the process of attic ventilation and causes potential ice dams.
When we get a call for a leak in the winter months due to an ice dam, the first place we inspect is the interior of the attic. When we arrive in the attic and find that it is covered in boxes we know exactly what caused the leak and the ice dam in the first place.
The boxes of clothes in the attic have disturbed the air flow and have contributed to the cause of the ice dams. The boxes of holiday ornaments have been pressed up against the insulation which has also caused the insulation to lose its R value. (An insulating material’s resistance to conductive heat flow is measured or rated in terms of its thermal resistance or R-value — the higher the R-value, the greater the insulating effectiveness. The R-value depends on the type of insulation, its thickness, and its density.)
The boxes in the attic have added to the condensation, moisture and potential mold to the attic walls.
The boxes in the attic have allowed the hot and cold air to reach your roofing shingles. When asphalt shingles are met with hot and cold air it causes the shingle to prematurely age and lose a lot of their asphalt granulares.
These four reasons should make you question if it is even worth considering the attic as a storage room. Is it worth dealing with an ice dam or the risk of mold in the attic? Is it worth it to potentially premature age your roof because ventilation has been compromised?
The answer: No. Always no. It is not worth it. It is much wiser to have your belongings in designated closets or a storage facility then to cause issues for you and your home. There are several options for off-site storage, including in a temperature-controlled storage warehouse, a self-storage unit, or in a Container on Wheels ® (COW) for temporary storage.
As a roofer, we recommend that you always store in your home’s closets, or in a storage facility. Keep your attic floor clean and free of clutter.