So you climbed up into the attic to search for those Halloween decorations, only to notice mold growing along a beam. If you’re like many homeowners, you may find yourself googling “moisture in attic” and crossing your fingers that it’s fixable.
Here’s the good news: condensation in attic spaces is absolutely fixable. And in this article, we’ll break down what causes attic moisture and walk you through several possible solutions.
Knowing what causes attic condensation buildup can help you understand how to remove moisture from attic spaces like yours.
What Causes Moisture in Attics
You might think of your attic as merely a place to store sleeping bags and seasonal decorations. However, their most important function is actually to serve as a barrier between your comfortable, insulated house and the temperature fluctuations happening outside throughout the year.
Attic moisture problems can build up when warm, damp air enters it and can’t escape. As the temperature in the attic cools, the air can no longer hold as much moisture, so the water vapor becomes liquid—or, during cold winters, frost. Unfortunately, water droplets and melted frost can coalesce on roofs and beams, ultimately causing problems like mold and staining if homeowners don’t address the issue.1
While your attic space can have condensation on the ceiling in summer, it’s more common during the other seasons. This is because your home is warm, but outside temperatures are colder or transitioning.
You might develop condensation buildup in your attic if:
- You have insufficient attic vents, keeping moist air trapped in your attic instead of allowing it to circulate and flow back outside.1
- Your bathroom or appliance vents run directly to the attic, releasing hot and humid air into the space.1
- You have too many items stored in the attic space, blocking vents and preventing air from circulating.1
- You have poor insulation around attic entrances or attic floors that allows more warm air from the house to infiltrate the attic.1
If you notice mold, stained or discolored wood, or condensation pooling throughout your attic, you might have excess moisture up there.1 While a bit of water might not seem like a problem, regular condensation in the attic can cause both short- and long-term challenges.
Why Condensation in Attics Can Cause Problems
When we’re juggling life, work, and family, home repair can sometimes fall lower on the to-do list, especially when it doesn’t feel urgent. But addressing attic condensation as soon as you notice it can make a huge difference. If left unaddressed, attic moisture can cause both cosmetic and structural problems.
- Reduce the resale value of your home – If you have enough water vapor from condensation, it can stain rafters, beams, and other wooden areas of your attic. Additionally, if the damp environment leads to mold, your attic can end up with mold stains, even after you’ve scoured and removed the mold. Aside from this being unpleasant for you to look at, stains can ultimately hurt your house’s resale value if you choose to sell in the future.1
- Lead to structural deterioration – In some cases, the moist environment can lead to moldy or rotten wood. If left untreated, you can end up with serious structural deterioration and an expensive repair bill in the future.1
- Spread mold spores throughout the home – If attic condensation leads to mold growing in your attic, then your home’s ventilation system could end up spreading the spores throughout the entire house. Over time, living with mold can cause symptoms like coughing, stuffy noises, and even mild difficulty breathing.3 If you’re wondering, “can insulation make you sick,” read up on the topic to make sure that potential insulation problems don’t cause health issues for you and your family.
All of that said, these problems are worst-case scenarios. If you take the appropriate steps to reduce attic condensation as soon as you become aware of the issue, you should be able to keep your attic unstained, structurally sound, and blissfully free of mold.
How to Reduce Moisture in Your Attic
Because several factors can contribute to attic moisture, we recommend talking to an expert when determining the most effective way to reduce the condensation in your particular attic.
A contractor will probably recommend one or more of the following solutions:
- Store less in the space – Many people use their attics for storage. But as we mentioned above, if you have too many items stored in the attic, they can block vents and prevent moist air from circulating—and eventually leaving the attic. Promote airflow by reducing how much you’re storing in the attic, and keep whatever’s left well away from any vents. If you don’t have time to tackle it yourself, you can try hiring an attic cleaning service.1
- Add more roof vents – If you’ve cleaned out your attic and you still see condensation, you might not have enough attic ventilation. Adding more roof vents can help moist air escape outside instead of it transforming into condensation inside. You can consult with a contractor to see if this solution makes the most sense for your house or if another option on this list might work better.1
- Reroute improper venting – If your home wasn’t built to code, your bathroom or appliances may vent moist air directly into the attic. To remedy this, consider hiring a contractor or construction service to reroute your vents.1 In addition to helping prevent attic condensation—and all the problems that come with it—getting your vents up to code will reduce any inspection-related barriers to selling your home in the future.
- Reduce warm air leakage – Warm air can also move from your top floor to your attic through a poorly sealed attic access hatch.2 To reduce warm air leakage, try applying self-sticking weather stripping to the edges of the attic door. You can also hire an expert to apply fiberglass insulation to the back of the attic door. Knowing when to use a vapor barrier with your insulation can also help reduce warm air leakage in your home.
- Improve your insulation – Improving your insulation can prove one of the best ways to keep the warm air inside of your home from escaping up into your attic—where it can become damaging condensation.1 In some cases, bad ductwork installation can be the root of these problems. In other cases, the insulation is simply old and could use an upgrade. That said, it’s also possible to over-insulate your attic, which can prevent any moist air that does get in from escaping. Hiring an expert can help you thread that needle and achieve the ideal level of insulation.
You can also help reduce the risk of future mold infections taking hold by checking your attic a few times a year for condensation, mold, or newly discolored wood.
If you have concerns over a damp attic, one temporary fix is to place moisture absorption materials in the space until a professional can take a look. They’re available at any hardware store and should be easy to find, but remember that this will only deal with short-term symptoms of the problem. Catching mold early—and addressing the cause—can help prevent bigger structural issues down the road.
Choosing the Best Insulation
When it comes to choosing an insulation material for your attic, we recommend fiberglass. Composed primarily of glass, fiberglass traps air in a way that slows the transfer of heat, making it ideal for keeping your home warm during the winter and cool during the summer—and for preventing the warm air transfer that can produce pesky attic condensation.
Here’s why we recommend fiberglass insulation:4
- It’s energy-efficient – When installed correctly, fiberglass insulation could reduce your heat and air-conditioning bills by roughly 40% to 50%.
- It’s eco-friendly – Made out of almost 30% recycled materials, fiberglass is one of the more eco-friendly insulation options available.
- It fits a wide variety of physical spaces – Because fiberglass insulation comes in several different standard shapes—rolls, pre-cut panels, and loose-fill—it can easily fit attics of any size and dimensions. That can prove especially important for houses with irregularly shaped attics.
- It’s a natural fire retardant – Because the glass and sand found in fiberglass act as a natural fire retardant, using fiberglass insulation in your home can help provide an extra layer of protection against blazes. If you live in an area affected by wildfire season, you may want to prioritize insulation options like fiberglass that can help provide an extra layer of flame-retardant.
If you do decide to use fiberglass insulation when improving your attic, you’ll have to select the specific type of fiberglass insulation you want to use. Different types of insulation are categorized by their R-value (i.e., how well they slow heat transfer). A higher R level means less heat will move through the insulation.
In addition to installing your insulation correctly, a professional can help you select the best R-value for your house and climate.
Improve Your Attic’s Insulation with Attic Construction
Founded in 2013, we’re proud to be our market’s number-one rated company for attic insulation, attic cleaning, rodent proofing, and rodent decontamination. Our customers span San Diego, CA, Orange County, CA, and Phoenix, AZ, and benefit from excellent customer service, highly trained experts, and top-of-the-line equipment.
To put it another way: we make customers happy and confident in their attic’s performance.
Whether you want to protect your attic against rodents or fight the good fight against attic condensation, we’re here for you—because every house should feel like a home.
- Life Savvy. Tips for Preventing Mold in Your Attic. https://www.lifesavvy.com/131008/tips-for-preventing-mold-in-your-attic/
- Ottawa Citizen. House Works: Understanding attic condensation. https://ottawacitizen.com/life/houseworks-understanding-attic-condensation
- Housing Digest. 3 Hacks To Help You Easily Put In A New Bathroom Exhaust Fan. https://www.housedigest.com/985027/hacks-to-help-you-easily-put-in-a-new-bathroom-exhaust-fan/
- Forbes. Learn The Pros And Cons Of Fiberglass Insulation. https://www.forbes.com/home-improvement/insulation/what-is-fiberglass-insulation/#:~:text=Energy%20Efficient%3A%20On%20average%2C%20fiberglass,also%20help%20with%20noise%20reduction
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Written By Joseph Sheiner
Joseph Sheiner is a construction industry professional with over 15 years of experience. He began his career in the insulation industry in 2012, and co-founded Attic Construction Inc in 2013. As CEO of the company, Joe oversees all operations and is in charge of training and product knowledge.
Under Joe’s leadership, Attic Construction has become the largest leading Attic Restoration Company in San Diego, Orange County and Phoenix. He has personally performed and supervised insulation work in over 7000 homes. He is certified by Owens Corning as a CEE (Certified Energy Expert) and is a licensed contractor by the CSLB.
Most recently, Joe has helped expand Attic Construction to two additional locations – Orange County and Phoenix. He is currently working on expanding to additional locations in the near future.
Great work! Our attic went from totally disgusting to pristine. They are courteous and professional and clean up after themselves.
-Karen L. Santee, CA
Andrew was very informative and helpful during the whole process. Excellent communication and his team did a great job. He came on Sunday and the work was done and completed by Tuesday. Highly recommend to anyone who is looking for a fair prices and great service.
– Joey E. San Diego, CA