Plenty of households exclusively use their attics as storage spaces – filling it with boxes, old furniture, and other unused and unwanted items, then not giving it another thought. Although this method works for maximizing the space in other rooms, it poses several risks that can eventually cause structural damage and health consequences for your family.

Here are some possible dangers of poorly maintained attics.

Pests and vermin

If you often hear strange, scratching noises from your attic, that may be a sign that pests and other critters are nesting in your house. Mice, bats, raccoons, and squirrels start seeking shelter in people’s homes in the colder season for warmth. When left unchecked, they can deal significant damage to your home by chewing wires, wood, and other integral structural components.

Apart from the season changing, dust, animal droppings, and dirt also attract insects, including cockroaches, termites, flies, and others. Textiles, pieces of food, and wood can also cause an infestation. Apart from damaging your house’s foundations, they may be carrying harmful diseases, threatening your family’s health and safety.

Nobody wants pests in their house, so be sure to regularly deep clean your attic and use amateur insecticides when necessary.

Increased energy bills

The U.S. Department of Energy says commercial buildings and households account for 40 percent of the energy used in the country. The average American spends $2,000 on energy per year, with as much as $400 wasted due to drafts, air leaks, and outdated heating and cooling systems.

People typically limit their insulation to prominent areas in the house, like the living room and sleeping quarters. But what many don’t know is that attics need insulation, too. Warm air has a tendency to rise, passing pass through the small holes in your attic. When this happens, cold air will refill the space and your heater will have to work twice as hard to warm the room again.

To prevent your energy costs from going through the roof, attic insulation contractors have the equipment and experience to assess what kind of insulation will work best for your home.  The material should appear fluffy and voluminous. But as time passes, it loses its volume and effectiveness. If your insulation looks flat or it doesn’t rise over your floor joists, it means it’s time to add more.

Fire hazard

man looking at a burning house

According to the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA), 6 percent of fire incidents in one- and two-family residential buildings originated from the attic. Some major causes of attic fires are faulty wires that have deteriorated over time or damaged by pests and moisture, home heating systems, and natural sources, like lightning, rainwater, or fallen trees.

Most of these causes are just borne out of neglect. When you leave your attic unattended for a long time, the risk for a fire increases because you’re not able to check for these hazards. The solution is to regularly go to your attic and check for water damages, electrical failures, or if the heating is still working properly.

Although you don’t use it as frequently as the rooms, the attic is still part of your home. Exert more effort into maintaining it to ensure the structural integrity of the entire house and the safety of your family.