So, you love your house! Maybe, you found the perfect apartment. Turning your living place into a home is a dream for most people. The majority of your life will be spent at home. It’s where you sleep, eat, hang out with friends, raise your kids, and for those lucky few it is also where you may work.
There are so many things you can do to make your home reflect who you are such as painting the walls, picking out furniture, and hanging photos or paintings. Unfortunately, people often attempt taking on tasks they really shouldn’t be doing on their own. And sometimes it feels like we are doing the right thing, when it is absolutely not. We’ve compiled a list of 9 piftalls homeowners and apartment dwellers need to avoid.
1) Don’t turn the heat completely off when leaving for vacation in winter
So, you’re heading to the Caribbean for a two-week winter vacation, and you live in Minnesota. You’ve packed your bags, printed your boarding pass for the flight, and turned the thermostat off. Whoa! Hold on a minute. You may just want to hold off on turning the thermostat completely off during your winter vacation. Yes, yes, I know you won’t be home, and you don’t have pets to worry about, but turning off your thermostat may have more consequences beyond adjusting out of the island heat when you get back home. When you head off on a winter vacation you will want to keep your thermostat on, although perhaps a few degrees lower than normal. Also, you will want to keep your thermostat at a consistent temperature. The reason is due to the potential for your pipes to freeze when water is not flowing through them, and if the temperature drops too low. These frozen pipes can cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars in repairs.
2) Don’t think your old fashioned thermostat is just fine
Maybe your dad used that old thermostat, and your grandfather thought it was the best thing next to sliced bread. However, thinking your old thermostat is just fine for you, may be a mistake.
Old thermostats may have been nice for keeping your house temperatures regulated to a specific temperature, the same temperature, day and night, in all rooms. Yet, this may be a considerable cost to your potential energy savings. By replacing your old thermostat, you could save hundreds, and even thousands of dollars a year in energy bills, and for some, significant tax credits. New thermostats not only adjust the temperatures in your house during the night and day, but can be set on a regular hourly schedule every day of the week, while on vacation, and—get this—for different zones in your house. Yes, that means your wife who’s always freezing can stay warm in the living room, while you remain cozy in your man-cave.
3) Don’t leave space heaters unattended
We love space heaters, right? They keep our drafty old home warm, are portable, with convenient temperature settings. They are also responsible for 25,000 home fires a year, and 6,000 hospital visits.
While convenient, unattended space heaters can cause problems to your house as well as infants and pets. Space heaters generate a significant amount of heat, and are therefore also a burn and shock hazard for anyone who comes in contact with them, and who may not understand their dangers.
In addition to physical burns, this concentrated heat has a tendency to build with objects susceptible to heat, such as the latest novel you laid down in front of the heater, that pair of socks you just took off, or perhaps the fabric on your couch and carpet on your floor. The consequences are actually severe enough that many towns and cities have banned the sale of several types of space heaters. If you do choose to use a space heater, be careful and keep an eye on it.
4) Don’t flush paper towels, or feminine hygiene products down the toilet
This is going to be a sensitive topic. What, and what not, to flush down the toilet. For anyone who has had to clean up a sewage backup, you will know the importance of what can and cannot be flushed down the toilet.
The first thing you need to realize is that your sewer pipes are probably not as clean as you think. Big surprise, I know. However, I am talking about cracks, fissures, tree roots, and solid waste that is left behind and dries to form a sort of anchor for passing by debris. Toilet paper is designed to break up very quickly once exposed to water for any period of time. This enables the toilet paper to safely be flushed down the toilet, and easily flow to the sewers outside your house without causing clogs. Now, think of paper towels which are designed to clean up messes and not dissolve. Because that paper towel is strong and thicker it will catch onto all those cracks, and tree roots and essentially help form a barrier, narrowing the passage of sewage. Feminine Hygiene products are even worse as they will not only absorb water to make a bigger barrier, but they can also expand to form a web-like surface to block anything from getting through your sewer pipe. This eventually results in a sewer pipe back-up, the time and money to clean it up, and a seriously upset significant other.
5) Don’t ignore regular maintenance on heating and air conditioning
Regular maintenance on your heating and air conditioning is essential, and without it you may end up spending thousands of dollars, or risking your life.
On the simple side of the argument you need to realize that without maintenance, your heating and air conditioning will eventually break down. I think you know when that will happen too. Your heating is probably going to take its last life in the cold of winter, and your air conditioning is going to let you down on the hottest day of the year. Even as a matter of comfort, it is a bad idea to not perform regular maintenance. However, even more critical are the severe consequences such as mold, allergies and carbon monoxide poisoning from heaters and air conditioners that require maintenance.
6) Don’t ignore needed home maintenance
Much like maintenance on your heating and air conditioning, regular house maintenance needs attention. Ignoring the maintenance on your home can have severe and costly consequences. Your home, over time, and without maintenance may be susceptible to leaky faucets and toilets, frozen pipes, mold and mildew or safety systems that don’t work when most needed. Common home maintenance you will want to look at regularly are:
• Replacing HVAC filters
• Cleaning garbage disposal
• Inspect fire extinguishers
• Test and replace batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
• Run water, and flush toilets, in unused areas.
• Test water heaters pressure relief valve
• Deep clean your house
• Vacuum the coils on your refrigerator
• Check exterior drainage
• Clean gutters
• Inspect exterior damage of your house (walls, roof, and windows).
Neglecting your home and putting repairs off until a later date will only make your repairs costlier, bigger and a major inconvenience…always at the wrong time.
7) Don’t be your own electrician
Sure, we love YouTube, and all those people who tell us how easy it is to rewire your own house, or install a surround sound system throughout the house. However, beyond all the extra stuff not mentioned in those videos, such as licenses, permits and inspections there is plenty of good reason to not do your own electrical work.
The first thing you need to remember is that an electrician has the experience to deal with problems they face in the work they perform. They also have the experience to realize a problem exists. While, you electrical DIYers out there may be able to follow step by step directions, you may miss out on some key observations that tell you a bigger problem exists in your wiring. The other consideration is that a qualified electrician has the tools—the right tools—to do the job correctly. Now, I’m not saying this is you, but there are a lot of people out there who feel it is okay to use a soup can as a hammer, or kitchen scissors to cut a live wire. As a nonprofessional we seem to feel invincible to the effects of arc-flash, live wires, and the occasional shock. All things that can, and often do, kill humans, in case you were wondering.
8) Don’t shirk on the professionals
We all love DIY projects. They give us a sense of accomplishment, and few things make us feel happier then pointing out the wood floors you installed or the wall you replaced. It’s inevitable that after moving into your new home you will suddenly be inspired to “fix it up” and many times that means taking out a sledge hammer and knocking down a wall.
Humans like to break and knock things down. Sometimes our passion for this is so extreme we believe we have the ability to repair the damage we cause—laughingly so, we think we can repair this damage with no training, practice, or topic-knowledge whatsoever. Professionals contractors make it look easy, which is why we think the work they do is easy. The fact is that without the knowledge, tools, and experience you are more likely to cost yourself more money in your DIY home remodel or self-repair, than you will by simply hiring a reliable contractor.