The little things you do each day that seem like nothing may actually be harmful to your home. Here are fifteen ways you might be damaging your home.
15. Slamming Doors
The next time you go or your kids go outside, make sure not to slam the door behind you. It’s not that you’re slamming it too hard, although in some instances that can be the case, but “repeatedly slamming a hefty entry door pushes its jamb out of alignment,” editor Sal Vaglica wrote for This Old House. “Over time, the momentum can force the door from the opening, causing the seam where the trim meets the jamb to separate, leaving an exterior gap where moisture and cold air can infiltrate.”
14. Putting a Brick in Your Toilet
We know your goal is to save water, but putting a brick in your toilet can cause more trouble than anything else. That’s because bricks crumble when exposed to water for long periods of time. There are a couple of alternatives to help you save water. The first, and cheaper, option is to swap out your brick for a half-gallon milk jug filled with sand. The second, and more costly, option is to invest in a high-efficiency toilet. They range in price from $100 to $300, but save you about $230 annually, so it’s more than worth the extra bucks.
13. Letting Tree Limbs Grow Over Your House
Big trees can provide plenty of shade during the hot summer months, but the wind could end up blowing its heavy tree limbs through your windows. Not to mention that a strong storm could cause those limbs to break and land on your roof, causing all kinds of damage.
Another reason not to let tree limbs grow over your house is because they can serve as a path for pests (squirrels, raccoons, etc.) to nest in your attic or gnaw at your electrical wires.
12. Cleaning Your Bathroom Mirrors
Believe it or not, cleaning your mirrors with ammonia- or vinegar-based cleaners can actually cause the reflective backing to lift or crack. That’s how bathroom mirrors end up with a black edge.
SOLUTION: Simply use warm water and a soft, lint-free cloth to clean your mirrors. For stubborn marks, you can use commercial glass cleaners — just make sure you spray them onto a dry cloth, not directly onto the mirror. And, make sure you avoid the mirror’s edge when wiping.
11. Not Using an Exhaust Fan in the Bathroom
Speaking of bathrooms, another way we end up doing damage to that room is by not using the exhaust fan. “Most people turn off the exhaust fan and lights when they get done showering. The average exhaust fan for a bathroom won’t remove enough of the moist air to prevent mold when considering someone only turning the fan on for the duration of their shower. When someone leaves the bathroom after a shower and turns off the exhaust fan and light, there is still a significant amount of moisture in the air,” Shawn Breyer, owner of Sell My House Fast Atlanta, told Best Life. “A great way to mitigate mold issues in a bathroom is to buy an exhaust fan with a higher CFM rating and leave the fan on for about 15 to 20 minutes after you get done with the bathroom so that the exhaust fan has enough time to replace all of the moist air in the room.”
10. Ignoring Your Filters
When it comes to HVAC filters, you need to clean or replace them regularly. For one, HVAC filters directly impact indoor air quality. Dirty filters are less effective in filtering out pollutants. Plus, they can allow greater concentrations of dust and particles to build up in your home. Two, dirty filters lead to higher energy bills. That makes sense since they cause your equipment to work harder.
As a general rule of thumb, you should change your filters at least every three months.
9. Using the Wrong Paint
Believe it or not, there is so much more that goes into choosing paint than just picking your favorite color or a color that’s compatible with your decor. According to BankRate, Lou Manfredini, the official Ace Hardware home expert, said that using the wrong paint can cause long-term problems for a home. So, what exactly is considered the wrong paint? One that doesn’t block UV rays, for example. “Sun and rain tear the heck out of the wood,” he said.
8. Placing Appliances Near Your Thermostat
Did you know that if you place lamps, TVs or other heat-emitting appliances near your thermostat it will drive your energy costs up in the summer and keep your home colder in the winter? Yep, it’s true! That’s because your thermostat can detect the rise in temperature and will respond accordingly — either by making your AC work overtime in the summer because it assumes the extra heat is an overall rise in the temperature of your home or by causing your heater to not cut on as often in the winter because of the heat it detects from the appliances.
7. Not Cleaning Your Gutters
If there’s one household chore we all love to hate, it’s cleaning the gutters. But, doing so will keep your home in tip-top shape. When your gutters are clogged with leaves and dirt, the water that flows into them will start to overflow onto the siding and foundation. And, if you’ve got any unseen cracks, the overflowing water can end up running inside of them and eventually into your home instead of down the drainpipe.
TIP: If you don’t have the time to clean your gutters or you just simply loathe having to do it, you can always install LeafGuard gutters, a one-piece gutter system that keeps leaves, twigs, pine needles and other debris from getting into your gutters.
6. Hanging Pictures
It isn’t hanging pictures that causes problems per se. It’s when you decide to hammer nails directly into the plaster that causes problems. Doing so can cause cracks that could cause the plaster to fall away from the lath behind it over time. To prevent this you can do one of two things: 1) use a stud finder and drywall screws, or 2) use Command Strips to hang your pictures. These adhesive strips hold strong and come off clean — no nail holes, cracked plaster, or sticky residue.
5. Using Abrasive or Acidic Cleaners on Granite Counters
The first thing you need to know about granite counters is that they’re porous. In other words, they soak up stains. This means they need to be sealed periodically. But, when you use abrasive cleaners containing ammonia or bleach, or acidic cleaners containing vinegar or lemon, you quickly break down that sealant. In fact, harsh cleaners aren’t even necessary at all. Mild dish soap and warm water will do the trick. And, make sure you use a soft cloth also. Abrasive cleansing pads are a definite no-no.
TIP: To disinfect your granite counters, use a mixture of half water, half 91% isopropyl alcohol.
4. Over- or Under-Insulating
Having too much insulation in your home can cause eaves and soffit vents to become blocked. This can prevent circulation, thereby allowing moisture to accumulate on roof sheathing — which in turn can lead to mold in your attic. Too much insulation can also lead to ice dams (ridges of ice that form at the edge of your roof and prevent melting snow from draining off your roof), which can lead to a leaky roof.
Under-insulating your home can be just as bad. Not enough insulation can lead to heat or air loss, making your home less energy efficient. It can also cause moisture to creep in.
3. Not Replacing Old Caulk
Yes, caulk has an expiration date. It typically lasts about ten years. That means that you need to go back and check any areas you’ve caulked — windows, doors, sinks, tubs, etc. If you find that any of the caulk has dried up, has become cracked or is missing, replace it. But, first you have to remove the old caulk. Here’s how:
1. Soften the caulk by applying caulk remover.
2. Cut through the softened caulk using a utility knife with a fresh blade.
3. If there are several layers or if it’s very thick, pull the material from the joint with a pair of needle-nose pliers.
2. Using Adapters on Two-Prong Outlets
If you live in an older home with two-prong outlets, you need to stop using adapters to covert them to fit three-prong plugs ASAP. That’s because it can potentially start a fire. “The ground wire is there for safety, and simply bypassing it creates a potentially serious hazard,” Mark Dawson, chief operating officer at Authority Brands, a leading provider of home services, told Best Life. His advice? Upgrade your outlets if you need to use three-prong plugs on a regular basis.
1. Not Reducing UV Damage to Your Furnishings
It’s not just your home’s walls, floors, toilet, HVAC equipment or exterior you have to worry about. Your home furnishings can suffer damage to, especially from UV rays. So, just how exactly do you reduce UV damage to your furnishings? Clark.com recommends installing new replacement windows with low-emission coatings that reflect UV light away from the house. These windows reduce fading by as much as 75 percent. Clark.com also recommends choosing “window treatments with UV protection that allows in varying degrees of light when closed.”
If you aren’t a homeowner just yet, check out these ten things you must do before buying your first home.