An attic’s empty space just screams, “Store stuff here!” However, no matter how tempting it might be to toss a little of everything into the rafters, this less-than-hospitable environment can be disastrous for some of your greatest treasures. Many items that commonly find themselves in storage are susceptible to damage from humidity, pests, and extreme temperature fluctuations. This list will help make sure your important documents and keepsakes stay whole and safe—as long as you never store them in your attic.
Leather jackets, furniture, and gloves don’t belong in the attic. Extreme temperatures and temperature fluctuations can cause leather to dry, get brittle, and crack. Moisture is a no-go, too. Leather easily stains unless you clean it right away. In the attic, chances are the damage will be done long before you can do anything about it.
Boxes of tax returns, receipts, and other papers frequently make their way to the attic. However, all of them, including birth certificates, medical records, passports, and other valuable information, could easily get ruined in extreme attic temperatures and humidity. In some cases, the paper itself may survive, but humidity and heat can also damage inks and fade pencil marks, creating an illegible mess.
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The clarinet from junior high band and violin from high school orchestra need consistent room temperatures to survive storage. Wood instruments in particular are in danger of damage when stored in temperature extremes. The adhesives in the body of a violin, for example, can melt, and mold poses a risk for anything made of wood. The fabrics in the instrument cases are also at risk for mold and bug infestations.
Wool and Delicate Fabric
Moths love wool blankets and clothing, and it can be hard to keep bugs away even in the home’s main living area. In an unfinished attic, the chances of bug problems increase significantly. However, wool isn’t the only fabric with special storage requirements. Moths and other insects love linen, cotton, and other natural fabrics, too. Vintage and sentimental clothing store best in a temperature-controlled environment, with deterrents like cedar nearby.
Old televisions, smartphones, tablets, and most other electronic devices have a safe temperature use range between 50 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything above or below that can damage components. Attics can reach well over 150 degrees in the peak of summer. Your electronics may be less than functional after a few hot (or cold) days.
Mirrors, dressers, and extra chairs easily find a home in the attic. However, heat can warp wood. To keep your furniture pieces in shape (literally), they need a milder, temperature-controlled environment. Humidity takes its toll in the form of mold, too. Sometimes you can clean mold off of wood, but other times there’s no removing the staining it causes.
Pre-melted candles probably aren’t what you have in mind, but that’s what you could end up with if they’re stored in the attic. Candles will melt in the heat, and the wax can potentially get on anything else in the storage container with them.
If you’re stocking up on your favorite nail polishes and eyeshadows, store them in the main part of your house. They don’t belong in the rafters. Heat and humidity promote mold growth in some products, especially natural products made without preservatives. Other cosmetics melt, creating a gooey, yet colorful mess.
You might be looking for somewhere to keep extra cleaning products out of the hands and mouths of pets and children, but the attic isn’t the right place. Heat can damage the products’ containers, leading to leaks. Cleaners can also be a fire hazard if exposed to high temperatures. They’re best stored where temperatures stay in a safe range.
Your children probably won’t find medication in the attic. However, ingredients in the medication may lose their potency in the heat and humidity, making them less effective or even useless. Gel capsules could melt when the temperatures rise, for instance.
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