Homeowner's Academy

This is your guide to interesting facts, tips and general homeowner information. We hope you find the information useful - and feel free to share with friends!

Common Home Maintenance Myths Busted

by BROOKE GOLD HASSON | Oct 23, 2014

iStock_000026405506_Medium-300x199Keeping your house in tip-top shape can be a challenge. Add in the many myths and misconceptions floating around online and it’s easy to become mixed up with home maintenance musts.

We’ve busted 10 of the most common home maintenance myths to help keep your home and your family safe, and save you money along the way.

Myth 1: Throw a lemon wedge in your disposal to keep it clean.

Lemon smells zesty and delightful, but has little impact on the cleanliness of your disposal. Baking soda and vinegar do a better job of washing away gunky buildup.

Myth 2: Closing air vents in unused rooms saves you money.

Most heating or cooling systems work just as hard whether 10 or 12 vents are open. In fact, closing a vent can throw off the system’s balance and allow pressure to build up in the ductwork. The built up pressure causes leaks, decreases efficiency and leads to lofty electricity bills.

Myth 3: It takes more energy to turn on lights & electronic products when you come home than to leave them on while away.

People think this is true because there’s a power surge when you turn on a light, an appliance, or an electronic device — and there is, but it’s too small to measure. Even if the surge lasts a second and doubles the amount of electricity used in that second (which it doesn’t), it would still only add an extra second’s worth of electricity to your bill. Turn off or unplug lights and electronics to save big bucks. 

Myth 4: The more insulation in your attic, the better. 

According to the Department of Energy, attic insulation is one of the most cost-effective energy-saving improvements that can be made to a home. However,installing too much in an attic, wall or floor can actually be counterproductive.

When not properly installed, too much insulation in an attic can block eave or soffit ventilation, and decrease necessary airflow. Air has to be free to move around the insulation in order to prevent condensation, mold and rot.

Myth 5: Exhaust fans are only needed in bathrooms without windows.

While the Florida Uniform Building Code does not require installing exhaust fans in residential bathrooms that have windows, it is a necessary addition in order to remove built up condensation. Opening a window may introduce a natural breeze to your bathroom, but it does not sufficiently remove condensation.

Ensure that the exhaust fan installed in your bathroom vents out of the house and not to your attic or interior space. Completely remove excess humidity by turning on the exhaust fan for 15 to 30 minutes after your steamy shower. Letting excess humidity linger inside the bathroom can eventually lead to rot, mold or mildew.

Myth 6: Spraying an odor-neutralizer will permanently remove offensive odors.

There are tons of sprays you can buy from the grocery store that claim to get rid of nasty odors. While these sprays may make the house smell pleasant for an hour or two, they are just masking agents that cover up the existing odor with a fragrance that is stronger or more pleasant.

These sprays may be a decent temporary option, but if you want to actually get rid of the bad smells, like urine, cigarette smoke or rotted food, you’ll need to analyze the cause and treat it at the source.

Myth 7: Your carpet is dry if it feels dry to the touch.

If a flood impacts your house, drying it out with towels until the carpet feels dry could actually result in long-term damage. That’s because standing water can seep beyond the carpet and underlay, and into the subfloor. Mold can grow in wood AND concrete subfloor environments, and letting it linger can lead to serious and expensive issues.

For these reasons, it is important that you call your insurance company as soon as the flood occurs to determine coverage and next steps in obtaining a professional water restoration inspection.

Myth 8: Stone countertops are indestructible.

The durability of a countertop depends on the material. Marble and soapstone are softer stones that tend to be susceptible to blemishes. Granite countertops, considered by many to be scratch- and heat-resistant, are still not quite impervious to all damage.

A hot pan set down on a stone countertop for a few seconds can cause a scratch and scorch mark. In some cases, it can also expand the stone, leading to depressions in the countertop that can’t be fixed without replacing the entire section of stone.  Also be careful when using acidic household cleaners on stone countertops, as many products can dull the countertop’s finish over time.

Myth 9: Mow your lawn less often by cutting it shorter than usual.

According to The Lawn Institute, “cutting your lawn too short creates an environment for both weed and disease infestation.” Weeds and infestation can severely damage the root structure and weaken your lawns ability to weather periods of excess heat and drought.

Myth 10: Your smoke detector is operating properly if you push the “test button” and it makes a sound.

A smoke detector’s “test button” only confirms that the audible alarm is working properly; it doesn’t do anything to determine if the sensor is effectively detecting the presence of smoke. Find out if your sensor works properly by testing it with real smoke.

To do this safely, you’ll need to light a match and blow it out directly under the smoke detector. Don’t forget to place the lit match in a glass of water afterward to prevent a potential smoldering fire hazard.