November 11th, 2017 8:30 AM by Jackie A. Graves
Like using lemons in your disposal (don’t
You’re always on the lookout for smart ideas and hacks to manage
your home (and save money!)
— whether that means listening to the wisdom of your parents who’ve owned a
home longer than you’ve been alive, or scouring every corner of the internet
for savvy tips.
But just because a tip has been pinned, shared, and Instagrammed
thousands of times doesn’t make it smart. Here are eight tips (myths, really)
that most people believe are good advice, but instead will cost you cash you
don’t need to spend:
What it could cost you: A plumber’s visit (and
maybe a new disposal)
Proceed with caution when it comes to this well-circulated DIY
fix. Citric acid is a natural deodorizer, but plumbing experts say it can
corrode the metal in your disposal. That tough lemon peel can also damage the
grinding components and clog your pipes. Next thing you know you’re Googling
reviews for plumbers.
The better way: Turn on the disposal and,
while running cold water, dump in two or more trays of ice cubes. Despite the
clamor, this will safely dislodge buildup on the walls and the impellers, which
grind up the food.
What it could cost you: Pricier
Despite its name, don’t rely on
duct tape to seal leaks in your HVAC’s ductwork. Testing by the U.S. Department
of Energy found it deteriorates over just a few years (hot air from the HVAC
system degrades the glue), letting conditioned air escape without doing its
The better way: Use
duct mastic (a gooey substance kind of like caulk that dries after applied) to
seal metal and flexible ductwork, and use it along with a layer of fiberglass
mesh for gaps larger than 1/16 of an inch wide. Use gloves with metal ducts
because the edges can be sharp, and mastic is messy stuff.
What it could cost you: A
threat to your health, plus hundreds of $ (even thousands)
bleach can kill mold on non-porous surfaces, it isn’t effective on absorbent or
porous materials — you know, the places it loves to lurk, like grout, caulk,
drywall, insulation, and carpet, according to the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention. Instead, it just bleaches it so you can’t see it. And diluted bleach
can feed future mold growth (yikes!) because only the water will be absorbed,
which mold just loves.
The better way: Use
a commercial anti-fungal product to take out mold at its roots. And only tackle
mold removal yourself if the area is less than 10 square feet and you use
protective gear, such as a respirator and chemical-resistant gloves. Otherwise,
call in a mold remediation specialist who’ll know how to remove it without
spreading it’s yucky (and potentially harmful) spores.
Related: How to Get Rid of Mold Forever
What it could cost you: Around
$100 a year
Although the air filter should
be changed regularly to keep your home’s HVAC system operating efficiently,
this piece of advice is more of a convenient general rule that could cause you
to throw away perfectly good filters (and money!).
“The harsh truth is that it’s
easier to say, ‘Do it every month’ and know that means people might do it every
three or four months,” says homeowner advocate Tina Gleisner of Home Tips for
The better way: The
Department of Energy recommends checking, but not
necessarily changing, your air filter every month. Change it if it looks dirty,
replacing it at least once every three months.
What it could cost you: Dollars
instead of cents
Most dishwashers now come with
a built-in dispenser for commercial rinse aids, plus a free sample to get you
started. So now you’re hooked (spot-free glasses every time!), and it has
become a regular item on your shopping list, even if it does cost almost $4 for
The better way: If
you’ve never tried, run your dishwasher without a rinse aid. If your water is
soft, your dishwasher may deliver spot-free sparkle without any extra help. But
if you’re still seeing spots, just fill the rinse-aid dispenser with plain
white vinegar (less than a 50 cents for 8 ounces).
Money Tip: Rinse
aid does help dishes dry faster, which stops those annoying wet drips from top
rack to bottom when you unload. But instead of spending money, unload the
bottom rack first while letting the top rack air dry.
Related: Which Homemade Dishwashing Detergent Is Best?
What it could cost you: Thousands
of dollars in disappointment
Dreaming of diving into your
own pool or adding a second bath to put an end to those morning squabbles?
That’s the beauty of owning your own home, you can renovate to make all your
dreams come true. And you’ll get money back on most any improvement you do, but
don’t expect it for all improvements. FYI: A new bath returns 52% of its cost.
The better way: First
off, your own happiness matters, so by all means, follow your remodeling bliss
if you’re financially able. But if payback is important, do some research and
talk to a REALTOR® who knows what buyers are seeking in your market. The Remodeling Impact Report from
The National Association of REALTORS® (the sponsor of HouseLogic) is a
fantastic resource to get the scoop on what projects will boost your equity the
most. For example, it points out that small projects such as an insulation
upgrade, refinishing floors, and even seeding your lawn will recoup almost all,
and in some cases more than, your original investment.
Related: Find Out What Projects Have the
Best Return on Investment
What it could cost you: Higher
energy bills and a potential fire hazard
Social media PSA: Thousands of
pins and shares do not mean a remedy is smart or safe. If you follow this
popular hack, you’ll block the flow of air in your vents, making your HVAC
system work harder and increasing your energy costs. The blockage even can pose
a fire risk when the furnace is pumping out hot air.
The better way: If
fragrant air is what you’re after, there are no shortage of options available
that won’t burn your house down. Give each room — or each day — a signature
scent with all-natural scented candles, sprays, oils, and aromatherapy devices.
If you’re seeking a scent to mask an offensive odor, however, it’s important to
find and remove the source. Some stinky suspects — like mold, mildew, sewage,
and gas leaks — can carry health risks.
What it could cost you: $50
to $100 or more
The last time you bought a
major appliance or even a hand mixer, you were probably offered a warranty or
service plan. While marketed to cover repair costs, these contracts typically
cost more than you would ever spend to fix an item. And keep in mind that most
manufacturers offer at least a 90-day warranty anyway.
The better way: Maintain
the appliance as recommended by the manufacturer, and smartly stash the dollars
you would spend on a warranty in a repair fund instead. Also, buy with a major
credit card, such as AmEx or Visa. Many credit card companies extend product
warranties (for free!) up to a year or so. Might be worth checking to see if
By Amy Howell Hirt – To view
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