We hate to be scolds, but it’s time to break those deplorable habits that are hurting your home. No, a home does not actually feel pain, and, much like the Canadian electorate, it can endure a remarkable amount of abuse. But the damage it sustains — scratches on the hardwood floors, a neglected leaky spot on the ceiling — will one day come back and take a bite out of your finances in the guise of costly repairs.
“It’s tempting for homeowners to get caught up in dreaming about the cool stuff they plan to do — the kitchen makeover with the big, six-burner commercial-grade stove, or the dinner parties on the yet-to-be-built backyard deck,” says remodeling expert John Riha. “But good homeownership is in the details, like doing regular maintenance and smaller routine projects that can head off major repair bills.”
Hey, we know you’re busy and would rather spend your free time relaxing in your home rather than taking care of it. But you’ll eventually save time and money if you break a few bad home-owning habits today like the ones below.
Terrible habit No. 1:
Thinking ‘If it’s not broke, don’t fix it’
Wrong! Appliances, furnaces, paint jobs, and hardwood floors all need regular maintenance, whether they look as if they need it or not. Home exteriors need to be repainted every four or five years, before you see peel or rot. HVAC filters should be cleaned or replaced every month. Granite should be sealed every year before stains form. So try this new habit: When you buy or install something, read and obey maintenance instructions, which will keep your home working well and looking good longer.
Terrible habit No. 2:
Hanging dry cleaning on doorknobs
Who doesn’t hang their office clothes on door handles on some occasion? Not to mention purses, gym bags, and any number of other things? It seems like no biggie, but this actually strains doors and can pull them out of alignment. Looks kind of crappy, too. Is it really that hard to hang dry cleaning in the closet? Of course not. If necessary, get some wall-mounted hangers or coat racks.
Terrible habit No. 3:
Wearing shoes inside
Shoes scuff floors, stain carpets, and deliver dust, dander, and disease into your home. In fact, a University of Houston study found that 39% of shoes contained Clostridium difficile, aka C. diff, which causes bad diarrhea and is increasingly resistant to antibiotics. Nasty! So leave comfy socks or slippers at your entry door and slip into them when you or your guests enter your home. Foot coverings are better than going barefoot. Your skin produces oil and sweat, which isn’t good for flooring, either.
Terrible habit No. 4:
Tossing cleaning tablets in toilet tanks
Sure, they’re an easy way to clean your toilet. But eventually the chemicals will corrode the plastic parts that keep your toilet flushing. Instead, use a little elbow grease and scrub your toilet with a brush, or use a flush-by-flush product that you attach to the bowl, not the tank.
Terrible habit No. 5:
Packing stuff under your deck
It’s OK to store some, say, patio furniture under your deck. But if you pack that storage space with everything, you’ll trap moisture that can warp decking. Always keep at least 1 foot of space between stuff and the joists.
Terrible habit No. 6:
Even if you don’t care about your health, care about the health of your investment when cigarette smoke seeps into walls and floors. Stop smoking in the house. When it comes time to sell, you’ll be glad you did. If you must smoke (must you?), do it outside, away from windows and doors that could allow smoke to seep in.
Terrible habit No. 7:
Using closets to hide clutter
Even if visitors can’t see it, you know it’s there (and God forbid a guest needs to rummage around in there). Clutter makes your home look messy, small, and uncared for. Stop letting mail accumulate, keeping clothes you don’t wear, books you won’t reread, and dishes you’ll never use. You don’t have to declutter in a weeklong sweep; you can do it little by little. Every day, find one or two things you don’t use, put them in a bag or box, then donate, gift, or sell them when the container is full.
Terrible habit No. 8:
Ignoring small problems
It’s easy to ignore a small wet spot on the ceiling, or a slight musty smell in the basement. But you disregard these small problems at your peril. A wet spot on your ceiling can mean anything from ice damming, cracks around roof vent collars, or missing or failing roof shingles. A persistent musty smell could mean mold is growing. These conditions are easy to fix at the beginning. But if you wait, you’ll spend more repairing small problems that have become big problems.