Why Can I Smell My Attic In My House? (Most common Reasons)

Whether you use your attic as an extra storage space, as extra living rooms, or do not even use it at all, you must clean it well from time to time so it does not smell.

If you do not clean it, this unpleasant smell might not seem to you like a very serious problem at first, especially if you do not visit the attic often. But over time, the smell can creep into the corners of your house and make you and your guests very uncomfortable. It could even extend to your neighbors so that they can now smell your attic from their houses.

In this article, we will take a very close look at the reasons why you can smell your attic in your house and how to prevent this from happening.

Here Are 3 Reasons Why People Can Smell Your Attic From Their House:

1. Air leakage problems:

If people can smell your attic in their house, then it is most likely because there are holes in your attic floor letting the smelly air out, and the wind might just be sending this unpleasant air to your neighbors.

2. Duct leakage problems:

If the air from your vents smells similar to the air in your attic, then you may have to seal your vents as there might be holes and leakages in them, as it will continue to send this same air to your surroundings outside.

3. Ventilation problems:

If your house is very air-tight and doesn’t allow for the exchange of fresh air with your surroundings, then you might have people around smell your attic in their house on the very few times you open your doors.  

Is It Normal For Attics To Smell?

For a part of your building that might be poorly ventilated but very damp, it is normal for your attic to smell, especially if you don’t clean it regularly.

The moisture in your attic could cause a musty smell from molds and mildews on your hard surfaces or installations. So this musty smell of attics could be well considered normal.

(If you don’t act very quickly, this musty smell can cause allergies and respiratory issues for you)

But if your attic starts to smell foul, then it is not normal, regardless of where you live or what material your house is made of. And this smell could be very unpleasant!

If you use your attic as an extra storage space, rodents and pests can likely find their way there, build their home in your belongings and even start nesting there.

So you will probably perceive the smell of their urine and feces. You might also expect the decay of these rodents as they die and their body begins to decompose.

(The smell of urine of rodents is always very strong because it contains a lot of ammonia)

Can Old Attic Insulation Smell?

Normally, new attic insulations might give a mildly offensive odor. But this smell should go away after a few days.

New insulations can also smell as a result of mistakes from the technician and contractor during the process of mixing chemicals.

But old insulations can also smell when there is so much moisture in the attic that molds and mildews form on them.

These molds and mildews will surely hamper the proper functioning of the insulation. So the best way to remedy the situation is usually to replace the insulation.

Does Mold In The Attic Smell?

Just like your basement and cellar, attics are always moist. And this moist atmosphere can cause molds to form and these molds can make your attic give off a musty odor.

If you have ever left a wet newspaper on the floor for a couple of days, the smell it gives is very close to what the mold of the attic will smell like.

But the case could be worse in your attic if your roofs are leaky. A leaky roof will likely increase the moisture in your attic so that molds form faster and continue to spread so that your attic smells even more.

How Do I Stop My Attic From Smelling?

Here are a few ways to stop your attic from smelling:

  • Open the windows in the attic so that the smelly air can be replaced by clean fresh air. You can also spray an air freshener to make the attic more tolerable.
  • Check for leaky roofs and windows, and fix them so that you can reduce moisture and stop mold growth in your attic.
  • Check your attic insulations to see if there is any presence of mold on them. If you notice any, simply cut out that part of the installation and replace it.
  • Look around the hard surfaces in your attic and spray any mold on them with vinegar, and ensure your scrub the surface properly with a sponge immediately after.
  • Search for dead rodents (especially mice and birds) that might have been trapped in your attic. Remove them if any, and place them in a garbage bag.
  • Place a fan in the attic and allow it to run for several hours so it can spread air to reduce the smell.
  • Place several bowls or opened boxes of baking soda, white vinegar, charcoal briquettes, or any other natural deodorizer around the attic to absorb the odor in the air. (It is advisable to do change these bowls or boxes every three months so they are strong enough to absorb the odor in your attic)
  • You can also sprinkle deodorizer granules on the floor of the attic to remove the odor, but you must ensure these granules are not toxic to humans and can be recycled. (You will have to spend a lot if they are not recyclable)
  • Place a dehumidifier in the attic so it can remove moisture from the air. With this, you can reduce the chances of molds growing in the attic, and it is often advised to do it regularly.

Always remember to protect yourself from mold and spores by wearing full rubber gloves, goggles, long pants, and long-sleeved shirts when you are going to clean your attic.


It is common practice to overlook or forget your attic as a major part of your house. But when it starts to smell, it will be very unpleasant.

So it is necessary to pay more attention to it and give it fresh-air treatment now and then.