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11 Home Maintenance Myths You’ll Wish You Knew Sooner

By Rachel Brougham, FamilyHandyman

Owning a home involves work. You know there are home maintenance tasks to keep up on, but are you doing these tasks correctly or as often as you should? We busted 11 home maintenance myths you’ll wish you would have known about sooner.

You’ll Mow Less if You Cut the Grass Short

If mowing isn’t your favorite home maintenance task, you may be tempted to cut the grass short so you don’t have to mow as often. However, The Lawn Institute reports, “Cutting your lawn too short creates an environment for both weed and disease infestation. It also causes the lawn to lose moisture much quicker.” Instead, follow the one-third rule: “Select a mowing height appropriate for the turf grass species in your lawn. Then set your mower blade height of cut and mow frequently enough so you cut off no more than the top third of the grass plant. This will encourage stronger roots,” the institute notes. 

Save Energy by Turning Off Your Air Conditioner When You’re Not Home

You may think you’re saving on energy costs if you turn your air conditioner off when you leave the house in the morning, but this isn’t the best way to save money. “The problem here is that when you come back home and turn your system back on, your AC unit will have to work overtime to cool your house back down, negating any energy savings you’ve accrued,” according to National Property Inspectors. Instead, just adjust your thermostat 5 to 10 degrees warmer when you leave home.

Gutters Only Need to be Cleaned in the Fall

If you think you only need to clean your gutter in the fall, think again. Gutters can get clogged with debris that prevents them from directing the flow of rainwater away from your home any time of year, resulting in damage to your home’s interior and exterior. “Clogged gutters can also become attractive homes to insects, rodents and mold. That’s why it’s a good idea to have your gutters cleaned in both the summer and fall,” according to First Quality Roofing and Insulation, a Las Vegas area company. Clean gutters the right way by following these tips.

More Insulation is Better

Adding insulation is a home maintenance task many homeowners will have to tackle at some point. However, more isn’t always better. “While you want enough insulation to prevent heat escaping into the attic, going overboard can actually cause problems,” according to National Property Inspectors. “For instance, overloading your attic with insulation can cause the lower layers to compress, which diminishes its effectiveness. You can also end up blocking your eave or soffit ventilation, leading to heat or moisture buildup and mold problems.” 

The Test Button is the Best Way to Check Your Smoke Alarm

By pressing the test button on your home’s smoke alarm, what you’re really doing is testing whether its sound is functioning properly, according to Security First Insurance. Instead, to properly test your smoke alarm, place a newly burned out match under the device. The smoke should cause the alarm to sound. Experts suggest you test your smoke alarm at least once in the spring and once in the fall. 

If Your Carpet Feels Dry, It’s Safe

Cleaning up water from a leak or flood is a home maintenance task no one wants to deal with. Even if your carpet feels dry after having a water incident, that doesn’t mean it’s completely dry. “That’s because standing water can seep beyond the carpet and underlay, and into the subfloor,” according to People’s Trust Insurance Company. “Mold can grow in wood and concrete subfloor environments, and letting it linger can lead to serious and expensive issues.” 

The Bathroom Exhaust Fan is Maintenance-Free

If cleaning out the bathroom exhaust fan isn’t one of your regular home maintenance tasks, you better add it to the list. First Quality Roofing and Insulation notes mold and mildew can form in the fan. In addition, dust will build up over time and cover the motor, so clean the grille and vacuum out the mechanical parts every six to 12 months. 

You Only Need to Replace Furnace Filters Once a Season

You may think you can save money on furnace filters by replacing them just once a season, but your filter should be replaced more often than that. “If you live in a dry, dusty environment, chances are you’ll need to replace them more often (about once a month). If you live in an area that’s more humid and features lush landscaping, you’ll be able to get away with replacement every three months or so,” according to National Property Inspectors.

It Doesn’t Matter What Time of Day You Add Chemicals to your Pool

If one of your home maintenance tasks is taking care of a pool, be sure to add chemicals after the sun goes down. That’s because adding chemicals when the sun is strongest can result in UV rays reducing the effectiveness of certain chemicals, especially chlorine, according to Security First Insurance.

If Your Home Contains Asbestos, It Must Be Removed

Many homes contain asbestos because it was widely used in building materials up until it was banned in 1978. However, if you do have asbestos in your home, you may not have to worry about removing it, as the EPA says asbestos only poses a health risk when the material is friable (crumbled or pulverized) and fibers can be released. “If building materials in your home aren’t damaged and won’t be disturbed, you do not need to have your home tested for asbestos. Material that is in good condition and will not be disturbed (by remodeling, for example) should be left alone,” the EPA says.

Your Dishwasher Cleans Itself

It may seem like since your dishwasher cleans all your dishes it is self-cleaning, but that isn’t the case. To keep it running well and smelling fresh, add periodic cleaning of your dishwasher to your home maintenance checklist.

Consumer Reports says to remove any debris from the tub and filter to make sure it drains properly. Then, place a couple cups of vinegar in a clean bowl near the center of the bottom rack and run the dishwasher on a normal cycle without detergent. This will help sanitize and deodorize the washer. If mineral deposits remain, try a store-bought dishwasher cleaner.

If odors linger, that means there may be food particles stuck in the dishwasher door lip and in the sprayer arm.

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