6 Signs Your Attic Needs a Clean Up

Homeownership is a big responsibility. Between keeping up with household chores, completing DIY projects, and maintaining your home’s exterior, it’s not unusual for seemingly less pressing projects—such as attic cleaning—to fall to the wayside. 

It’s easy to put off an attic clean up and junk removal, but like most other maintenance projects in your home, you won’t be able to avoid the clean out forever. 

How do you know when it’s time to tidy your attic? In this article, we’ll explore six signs that indicate it’s time for an attic cleanup.

#1 You Hear Pest-Related Sounds

While you might want to simply close your attic hatch and forget about it, pest issues such as rodent infestation can’t be put on the back burner. Insects and rodents can spread disease to humans through animal waste and feces, and hosting these unwanted houseguests for too long can lead to major health impacts and property damage.1

If you notice any of the following in your home, it’s time to take action and clean up your attic:

  • Scratching, clawing, or squeaking sounds
  • Rodent feces or insect droppings
  • Foul odors
  • Pest carcasses
  • Live pests anywhere in your home

If you’re having pest control or wildlife issues elsewhere in your home, they’ve likely already taken up residence in your attic or even air ducts. Why?

  • Habitat opportunities – While some attic insulation materials are treated to deter pests, fluffy, thick attic insulation still provides an ideal habitat for pests to sleep, store food, and hide their offspring.2
  • Increased access – When was the last time you examined your attic with a headlamp and a bottle of caulk at the ready? While you’re more likely to notice potential pest entry points throughout the rest of your home, you simply don’t spend as much time on attic decontamination and cleaning to resolve these vulnerabilities. And since you’re not usually in your attic or crawl space, pests are much more likely to sneak in unnoticed.
  • Seclusion – Unless you make a point to look in your attic every day with a flashlight, the area stays cool, dry, and dark all day and night. Choosing your attic as home base is an excellent way for pests to avoid predators—like you. 

If you see, hear, or smell signs of pests, it’s time for an attic clean up and potentially wildlife removal. 

#2 Your Attic Smells

Bad odors are hard to ignore, especially in your home. If you can’t eradicate a terrible smell—no matter how many air fresheners you try—the stench could be coming from your attic.

When sleuthing out a bad smell, don’t forget to sniff around your attic hatch. Unfortunately, there are a variety of potential sources for the stink:

  • Pest carcasses, rotting food, or droppings
  • Mold or mildew
  • Water damage from a roof or wall leak
  • Wet insulation
  • Decomposition of something stored in your attic
  • Plant infiltration from outside

Unfortunately, a smelly attic doesn’t lie—if you can’t shake a persistent odor in your home, peek into your attic with a flashlight to look for potential culprits. Because you’re unlikely to find the moldy remnants of a forgotten sandwich, you might need to consider removing attic insulation or prepare to observe pests, plants, water damage, or any of the other unpleasant causes listed above. 

In the meantime, before you start cleaning your attic or while you’re waiting for professional attic clean up services to arrive, you can try to dissipate the odor by increasing ventilation in your attic. Place a portable fan inside your attic facing away from the attic access hatch to improve airflow and temporarily reduce odors.

#3 Your Home is Dustier than Usual

Whether you dust regularly or only break out the duster once a year, you likely know what level of dust to expect around your home. If you notice additional dust, or dust with an unusual consistency or color, you could have bigger problems brewing upstairs. 

It’s easy for attics to get dusty—after all, you’re rarely in your attic dispersing dust or cleaning. But, if your attic gets dusty enough, that dust could infiltrate the HVAC system, spreading more floating particles than usual around your home. 

Increased dust could also be a sign of a pest problem. Burrowing rodents or termites can produce dust, so if you notice dust that’s a different color or texture than usual, be on the lookout for other signs of pests. 

If you’ve found yourself with a sudden increase in household dust, it may be time for an attic clean up. 

#4 You’re Coughing and Sneezing More

Usually, our homes are a respite from seasonal allergies. With the help of filtered, conditioned air, we can at least partially control the allergens in our home.3

But, if you’ve been noticing an increase in coughing, sneezing, or wheezing—especially if it’s not allergy, cold, or flu season—there could be more to the story than outdoor pollen. 

Before you venture into your attic, rule out other potential allergens first, like:

  • Laundry detergent brands or scents
  • Hair, makeup, or self-care products
  • Air fresheners
  • A new perfume or cologne
  • Pets
  • Household cleaning supplies, like scented disinfecting wipes

If you haven’t made any changes to your usual allergen inventory, allergens could be accumulating in the attic, decreasing your quality of life. A few potential sources for newfound allergies include:

  • Mold or mildew
  • Plants infiltrating from the outdoors
  • Pest dander or droppings
  • Insect carcasses
  • Termite debris

While you make a plan for an attic clean up, you can temporarily alleviate your symptoms by using one or more plug-in air purifiers throughout your home. 

#5 You Notice Signs of Mold or Mildew

While mold and mildew can present allergen risks, they can also lead to long-term structural damage or represent warning signs that there’s something more pressing happening in your home. 

For instance, mold and mildew could be a sign of water damage in your walls, ceiling, or roof, all of which can degrade the structural integrity of your home’s wood components. 

Another potential culprit of mold and mildew growth in your attic is the vents in your bathrooms and kitchen. When you turn on a vent fan in your home—perhaps to dissipate the steam in the bathroom during your shower—where does that steam go? 

It’s possible that the steam from your bathroom or kitchen simply vents into your attic and not out through the roof. While this is a common practice—especially in new construction—it increases the risk that mold and mildew could grow in your attic. 

To fix the problem, ask an attic or roofing professional how you can modify your HVAC system to vent steam to your home’s exterior instead of the attic. In the meantime, you can eradicate the existing mold and mildew with an attic clean up.

#6 You’re Having Trouble Accessing Your Attic

Whether you suspect a problem in your attic or you simply want to access something stored upstairs, you’ll need reliable, safe access to your attic via a hatch or ladder. 

But, if your attic access is blocked from the inside by a fallen box or structural damages, it may be time to call in reinforcements. Attic clean up services professionals can help you safely access your attic and remove obstructions, helping you create a safe path to your attic space. 

If falling boxes or damages are making it difficult to access your attic, it’s time for a well-deserved attic clean up. Whether you simply need to downsize your storage or clean up after major water damage, professionals can help you return your attic to a clean and accessible state. 

Why Clean Your Attic?

If you notice any signs that your attic needs a clean up, don’t avoid the task for too long. 

Cleaning your attic is important for the following reasons:

  • Problems upstairs can have a drastic impact on your home’s structure and your quality of life. Eliminating pests, smells, allergens, and obstructions can help you maintain a comfortable, safe home for your family and pets.
  • Maintaining your attic—and keeping it free from any of the issues above—ensures that your home won’t lose value as a result of long-term structural, pest, mold, or water damage.
  • You can extend the life of the equipment housed in your attic—like the HVAC and electrical systems—by keeping the spaces around these systems clean and protecting them from damage. 
  • You never know when you’re going to urgently need additional storage space. If you suddenly need to store a loved one’s belongings in the attic while they move or downsize, having access to a clean, safe attic will save you money on short-term storage solutions. 

You might be wondering, is summer or winter attic maintenance more important? The answer is both, for varying reasons. No matter the season, as much as you may want to put off a trip to the attic, maintaining your home is always worth the time and financial investment. 

Need a Clean Attic? Attic Construction Can Help

If you see evidence of pests, smell a foul odor, notice more dust and other allergens, or are having trouble accessing your attic space, it’s time for a thorough attic clean up.

Luckily, you don’t have to do it alone. At Attic Construction, we’re dedicated to helping you resolve all of your attic issues. Whether you need a thorough, professional cleaning, insulation installation or replacement for an under insulated house, ductwork maintenance, or anything in-between, you can trust our team of professionals to create a safe, clean, and operable attic space. Experts in attic cleaning in Orange County or attic insulation in San Diego, and Phoenix; we got you covered. 

So, before you dive headlong into an attic clean up, call the expert team at Attic Construction for help. 


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Disease Vectors and Pests. https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/publications/books/housing/cha04.htm 
  2. US Department of Energy. Insulation Materials. https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/insulation-materials
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Allergens and Pollen. https://www.cdc.gov/climateandhealth/effects/allergen.htm

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