6 Things Home Maintenance Experts Say You Should Stop Doing Right Now

updated Apr 10, 2021
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy

No one will deny that owning a home is an expensive endeavor. Even after you drop a hefty chunk of change to buy a place, the cost of maintaining it is considerable. And those expenses can quickly add up.

So it’s no surprise that many homeowners these days — armed with internet research and a DIY spirit — attempt to address problems in their homes themselves without professional help. Although this is often harmless, homeowners sometimes cause more harm than good — and they don’t even know it.

We spoke with several home maintenance experts to find out some common fixes that homeowners use to address problems around the house that are a definite no-no because they either don’t fix an issue or they exacerbate the situation entirely.

Don’t Windex your granite.

If you use Windex to clean and shine your granite countertops, stop immediately. You’re doing more harm than good to the stone.

“What you’re doing is removing the weaker particles from the surface,” says Cristina Miguelez, a remodeling specialist with Fixr.com. “This results in something called etching that will make the countertop look duller over time.”

The situation then becomes a catch-22 because you keep spraying the granite with Windex to make it shine, but it becomes more and more dull over time, she says.

And Windex isn’t the only culprit.

“Vinegar does the same thing, and many people thinking that they’re being green or all-natural may be harming their stone countertops by trying to clean them with vinegar,” she says.

Don’t patch moisture damage.

Got moisture damage? Don’t just fill in the spot in question with expanding foam or caulk and think that solves the problem. It’s just a Band-Aid.

“This promotes more rot as it does nothing to stop the root cause,” says Atlanta home inspector John Mease

Instead, get to the bottom of the issue and replace the damaged drywall or whatever it may be.

Don’t mask odors.

When you get a whiff of something funky in your home, don’t just light a candle or spray some Febreze and call it a day.

“If anything has an odor in the basement, bathroom, or under a sink, you need to address it,” says Lou Manfredini, a home expert with Ace Hardware. “Most times, it’s due to a moisture issue, and that needs to be addressed and corrected.”

Once the problem has been fixed, eliminate the funky smell with an odor neutralizer by the brand OMI, he suggests, to kill the stink and not just cover it up.

Don’t use excessive power strips and cords.

Do all your electric outlets have tangles of power strips, extension cords, and devices plugged into them? This might be evidence of a deeper problem.

“Generally, a home that is overusing these types of devices indicates an older electrical system with limited distribution or outlets,” says Kathleen Kuhn, president and CEO of HouseMaster.

Since this can pose a fire hazard, you should upgrade your electrical panel or, at a minimum, install additional electrical receptacles or outlets for safe usage, she suggested.

Don’t just turn off your water for plumbing problems.

Don’t assume that resolving a plumbing issue is as simple as turning off your water.

“While this stops the leak, again, it does nothing to solve the problem,” Mease says. “I have heard multiple times that, ‘My husband/wife has saved us so much money with repairs’ by covering the problem with caulk or turning off the water.”

If the problem is out of your league, swallow your pride and call a professional plumber. Your home will thank you.

Don’t ignore recalls on home products.

We’re all guilty of this one: ignoring recalls on products we own, including appliances (e.g., microwaves, ranges, head pumps, etc.) and building materials (e.g., paints, sealants, etc.), Mease says. Just looking the other way can lead to dangerous situations, he warns, like presenting fire or poisoning hazards.

Mease recommends checking Recalls.gov on a regular basis to make sure nothing in your home has been recalled.