Installing new batt insulation in the attic of a home.

Attics get a bad rap. They are portrayed as a dark and scary room that people seldom visit. The attic is often shown as a dumping ground for old trinkets and boxes of junk that homeowners forget about. It gets portrayed just as that in classic movies such as The Goonies and Beetlejuice.  

Your attic can still act as storage for all the holiday decorations and hidden treasure maps. In fact, your attic has an incredibly important function in the passage of air. Hot air exits, and cooler, less humid air enters from the soffit venting. If there is an interruption in the airflow, you may start to notice a musty smell emanating from the attic. 

At Shanco, we recommend that twice a year, homeowners do a quick walk through of their attic space to ensure that there isn’t any mold forming on the decking, wet insulation, or leaks around exhaust pipes or flashing. Being proactive in knowing the working condition of your attic will save you headaches, money, and costly repairs.  

What Does It Mean If My Attic Is Musty? 

A musty attic means there has been moisture in the attic at some point. This moisture can come from several sources.  

Musty smells in your attic mean that the conditions are right for mold or mildew growth. Attic mold growth will continue until you find the source of the moisture and rectify it. Remember musty odors lead to mold spores. 

My Insulation Got Wet? Do I Have to Replace It? 

If your insulation gets wet due to a roof leak, you may need to replace it. It depends on the material and how wet the insulation is.  

  • If your attic is insulated with cellulose loose fill insulation, it can get wet easier due to its composition. If it can be dried out depends on how wet the insulation is. Soaked loose fill will likely need to be replaced. Slightly damp cellulose may be able to be dried out.  

  • Batt insulation, the pink type of insulation you may see at home improvement stores is different than loose fill. Batt will have lessened efficiency the wetter it gets.  

Can You Dry Out Attic Insulation? 

Attic insulation can be dried out. However, it may require a large amount of space to spread it out far enough. Cellulose loose fill needs to be spread out for several days to allow it to dry out.  

Batt insulation can be dried out with dehumidifiers or fans. You can also place it in direct sunlight or in a warm place. 

When dealing with wet insulation, it is critically important to clean the area in the attic around the leak that occurred and then let it dry out. You do not want to go through all the effort to remove insulation and let it dry out then place it back on top of an area where mold could form.  

What Can I Do to Get the Musty Smell Out of my Attic? 

If you have found that your attic has musty smells, there are several ways to remove the unpleasant odors. The first step is to find the cause of the moisture before getting rid of the musty smell. If the moisture is left unaddressed, you will not be able to remove musty smells because the environment is suitable for those moldy conditions to come back.  

A good deep cleaning of your attic is a great place to start. Use a diluted bleach solution or a white vinegar solution and apply to affected areas with a spray bottle and scrub with a soft-bristled brush to remove any mold or mildew. Be sure to wear a respirator as exposure to mold spores can lead to health problems.  

Place opened boxes of baking soda, small containers of charcoal briquettes, or kitty litter around the attic. This will help remove the musty house smell. Replace the baking soda every two weeks to a month as it will lose its ability to remove odors over time. 

You can use a dehumidifier or fans to help move air around in the attic to make the smell dissipate.  

Shanco is the Leading Roofing Contractor Serving Washington DC metro, NOVA, and Richmond 

If you have discovered a roof leak in your attic, contact the experts at Shanco. We are an award-winning roofing contractor serving parts of MD and VA. We’ve helped countless homeowners since we opened our doors over 20 years ago. Contact us today to get the process started!