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Attic Storage
Written by Elizabeth Wood
Editor In Chief, United Home Improvement


Attics can serve as a great storage area under proper conditions. Certain homes offer excellent attic space, while others provide dormers, alleys, small crawl spaces or no space at all. Newer homes usually offer the least amount of attic space. However, before you can even think of using your attic space for storage, you must first consider proper ventilation and insulation.

Ventilation and insulation are essential for providing a dry space with consistent temperatures. Without these two features, the high levels of humidity that form in attic spaces will make it an unsafe space for storing items. However, it is possible to store items that are not affected by changes in temperature in the attic without proper insulation. Ventilation is a must have either way though.

If your attic is equipped with the necessary vents, ventilation can happen naturally. Cool air will enter through the vents located near the eaves and warm air will escape through convection in or around the roof. You can also ventilate the attic with electrical fans. Electric attic fans are used to draw in cool air and suck out warm air. When the attic reaches a certain temperature, usually 100 degrees, the fan will automatically start working. It is always a good idea to check for fire stat or automatic shutoff features with electric fans because such devices can trigger off attic fires.

Insulation provides a barrier between the interior of your home and the natural elements. The main reason for insulation in the attic is to lessen the transfer of heat from the main floor to the upper levels. For this reason, attics should be insulated between floor joists. Long term storage may require additional insulation. Insulation is rated with its R-value. Higher R-values represent better insulation and greater resistance to heat flow.

Aside from proper ventilation and insulation, you will also want to consider the ceiling joists and attic access. If you do not have ceiling joists that can handle a weight-bearing floor than you will not be able to safely use this area for storage. You can always install a floor, but you will need to make some adjustments to the joists. Also, if you do not have a staircase leading to your attic, you may want to consider constructing a fixed staircase or installing a fold-down ladder.

During the storage process take these suggestions into mind:

• Consider constructing a knee-wall with the under eave wall space. They are great for providing a level shelf space to support boxes. Also, shelving can be added to this space.

• Consider installing hanging shelves from the rafters.

• Refrain from stacking boxes. Not only will stacking weaken the furniture joints, but it also makes it harder to search for pests and hidden damage to your structure or wiring.

• Always check for proper ventilation. Make sure vents are functioning correctly and if you use an electric attic fan, make regular checks to make sure it is turning on and off when its suppose to.

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