7 Things You Should Never Store in Your Attic, According to Home Experts
To minimize clutter, it’s tempting to store off-season items in a hard-to-access place like the attic. Out of sight, out of mind, right?
But because of their location (at the tippity top of a house) and because many are unfinished and uninsulated, attics are prone to high heat and humidity in warmer months and freezing temperatures during colder seasons. Those unregulated conditions make attics a lousy place to store a lot of the things you’re inclined stash away for most of the year.
Ahead, home experts share what not to toss up in the attic.
Oil paints shouldn’t be stored in an attic because they’re highly flammable. But even latex paint, which is non-flammable, can deteriorate in an attic environment. Why? Latex paints break down under drastic temperature changes, making them unusable.
Food and wine
“The high heat in an attic during the summer will cook your canned goods before you even get a chance to open them,” explains Long Island-based electrician and maintenance expert Robert Hand.
The lesson here: Even food that’s safe to store away for long periods of time shouldn’t be kept in the attic. “I had clients store an earthquake kit of food up there and rats ate it,” says Jeff Young, a real estate agent with Sotheby’s International Realty in Los Feliz, Calif. It’s worth your while to store food, wine, and other perishables belong in a cool, dry place.
Your favorite electronics—even the ones that may be a bit outdated (hello, Game Boy Color)—are prone to heat damage in the attic. “The circuitry can blow, and they’ll be ruined forever,” Hand says. It’s better to keep electronics in a cooler spot, and to recycle the ones that don’t get as much use anymore.
Records, important documents, and photographs
“Don’t do what I’ve done,” Hand warns. “I’ve had record albums warp under the heat and humidity, and family photos have been ruined because they’ve stuck together.”
Dramatic changes in humidity make the attic one of the worst places to store photographs, papers, and similar objects.
“Delicate items just don’t hold up with temperature fluctuations,” says Terry Crisler, a Sotheby’s agent based in California. “And if you’re thinking of selling your home any time soon, clean out the attic before it’s time for inspections. Your inspector can’t get a good look at your roof interior and infrastructure with a bunch of stuff in the way, and it can be used against you in negotiations.”
The biggies are wood furniture and musical instruments, since heat and humidity have the ability to warp wood. This could ruin your antique furniture and even break apart guitars or other wooden instruments, rendering them useless.
Highly flammable objects
You’ll want to avoid storing propane tanks, oil lamps, kerosene heaters, aerosols, cleaning products, and batteries, and other highly flammable objects in the attic. High temperatures in summertime can cause these items to explode. What’s less dangerous is storing cleaning products, though there’s a good chance things like disinfectant wipes will dry out.
Delicate holiday decorations
Holiday decorations come in all shapes, sizes, and materials. The antique ones made of balsa wood or more delicate materials won’t hold up in an attic. Tree ornaments and synthetic garlands, on the other hand, will be just fine. The key is to separate out the risky ones from the durable decorations. And if you’re keeping blow-up lawn ornaments upstairs, “The compressors and air pumps need to be stored carefully,” Hand says.