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Top 5 Home Maintenance Mistakes

Top 5 Home Maintenance Mistakes

Owning a home can be an adventure. It’s exciting to purchase your first house, move all of your belongings, and have that first cup of coffee at your kitchen table. That excitement often turns to fear, however, when things begin to break or show signs of wear. “Do-it-yourself” home maintenance can be a great way to save money and develop new skills. Often times, however, homeowners end up doing more harm than good through their home maintenance mistakes. Here at ProMaster we have seen all kinds well-intentioned maintenance efforts go wrong. To help you maintain your home the right way, we’ve compiled our team’s top 5 home maintenance mistakes.

Home Maintenance Mistakes, #1: Over-Zealous Pressure Washing

Home Maintenance Mistakes - Cincinnati - ProMasterA pressure washer can be a great tool. Pressure washers spray pressurized water out of a nozzle to remove all kinds of unwanted dirt and other materials from a surface. Common uses by homeowners include pressure washing decks and railings, brick and vinyl exteriors, masonry, and exterior doors. Because these devices typically project water at thousands of pounds per square inch, they are great at removing mildew, paint, mud, and other dirt. Unfortunately, they can also take off the surface you’re trying to clean as well.

Decks and railings tend to be the most subject to over-zealous pressure washing. Cleaning your deck under high pressure can actually result in the gouging and splintering of the wood decking. Many homeowners don’t know that this type of maintenance should be done at a very low pressure setting, or even with just a mild deck cleaner and scrub brush.

Wood decks, however, aren’t the only parts of homes that are negatively impacted by pressure washing. Concrete walkways or driveways can end up with streaks or gouges as well, and even steel doors can be dented or have their paint peeled away.  Always use extreme caution when pressure washing to keep from doing more harm than good.

Home Maintenance Mistakes, #2: Drain Cleaner

Home Maintenance Mistakes - Cincinnati - ProMasterSo, you have to get rid of that clog in your bathtub drain. The simplest solution would be to reach for a bottle of drain cleaner, right? Well, as it turns out, that isn’t always the best idea. First, most drain cleaners are extremely toxic, and can be dangerous to our eyes, respiratory system, and skin. It’s not just health reasons, however, that dictate steering clear of harsh chemicals. The acid content of cleaners can actually be damaging to your pipes, while causing even greater damage to other surfaces nearest their application. Worst of all, they don’t always work as advertised.

Instead of drain cleaners for minor clogs, start with a plunger. You’ll be surprised at the number of clogs this can remedy. For more stubborn clogs in plumbing traps, use a barbed clog remover. These long plastic tools are great for clearing hair clogs and other materials from shower and bath drains. Finally, when all else fails, just call in a home repair professional. Plumbers are capable of clearing your drain without damaging your pipes; damage that will be far more expensive to repair down the line than a service fee.

Home Maintenance Mistakes, #3: Crazy Caulking

Home Maintenance Mistakes - Cincinnati - ProMaster

Caulking is an important part of home maintenance; sinks, bathtubs, toilets, windows, baseboards, trim, countertops, etc. Many parts of your home are well served by a well-applied bead of caulk. Some people, however, go a little too far with the caulk gun. This can show up in a messy caulk job at the base of a toilet, or a sloppy countertop application. These situations, however, are usually an aesthetic problem at worst. Caulking becomes one of our home maintenance mistakes when well-intentioned homeowners put caulk where it simply doesn’t belong.

Two of the most problematic places we see this occur are on the exterior of your home. At the bottom edge of a storm window, there is often a small hole in the frame. While this hole looks like it will let water in during a heavy rain, it’s actually a weep hole meant to let water out. During heavy rain it is common for water to get into the space between the window sash and storm window. These weep holes allow the water to drain out of the window, preventing issues like wood rot. Filling this hole with caulk or another substance will prevent this water from escaping, and will, over time, cause damage to your home.

Brick houses also have weep holes in between bricks in strategic locations. This allows water that enters the porous brick to drain out of the home. Concerned homeowners, however, will sometimes fill these weep holes with caulk, thinking that there is mortar missing from between their bricks. Not only will this cause your brick to deteriorate, but the water will eventually find its way into the home, damaging various aspects of the home’s construction.

Home Maintenance Mistakes, #4: Gutter Screens

Home Maintenance Mistakes - Cincinnati - ProMasterGutter screens and guards are meant to help homeowners avoid one of their most boring (and dangerous) jobs: gutter cleaning. While some of these products work well, many don’t. As one of our craftsmen, Jamie, puts it: “I can’t tell you how many gutter screens I’ve had to take off to clean the gutter.”

Often times the hardware used to attach the screens is weak and causes them to fail. Additionally, some screens have holes small enough to keep out large leaves, but not smaller pieces of debris or roof granules. The end result is a gutter whose screens have fallen into the gutter, or have allowed the gutter to become clogged.

We also see many homeowners using downspout guards. While this small insert can help your downspout from becoming clogged, it can also keep water from getting to the downspout at all. Sticks, leaves, and other debris can collect around the downspout screen and impede the flow of water. If a homeowner doesn’t check their downspout guard regularly, they can find their home in need of soffit and fascia repair.

If you are considering a gutter screen or guard, be sure to choose carefully and gather as much information about the product as you can. This will help you avoid this entry in our home maintenance mistakes.

Home Maintenance Mistakes, #5: Over-Insulating

Home Maintenance Mistakes - Cincinnati - ProMaster

Insulation is vital to the efficiency of your home’s heating and cooling systems. According to the the North American Insulation Manufacturer’s Association, as many as 90% of homes are under-insulated. A completely different issue can occur, however, when you over-insulate your home, or perhaps better stated, insulate the wrong places in your home.

Many people seek to remedy their under-insulated attic by adding more blown-in or rolled insulation. This can be a great way to keep your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. The problem occurs, however, when insulation is placed over the soffit vents at the edges of an attic. This blocks the flow of air through the attic and can trap moisture, causing condensation, mold, or even wood rot. When insulating your attic, be sure to insulate to the recommended R value for your climate, and avoid covering attic and soffit vents to insure proper ventilation for your home.

Cincinnati Home Maintenance Mistakes

If you have made some of these home maintenance mistakes in the Cincinnati area, or if you need some maintenance done and want to ensure that it’s done the right way, contact ProMaster Home Repair. We tackle all sorts of home maintenance needs for people all over the Tri-State. We would love to send a “Home Repair Hero” to help you keep your home looking great. Feel free to call 513-322-2914, schedule online, or use the form at the bottom of this page to find out more!

 

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