November 12th, 2017 8:10 AM by Jackie A. Graves
your cash for more important things, like, you know, your mortgage.
You can’t swing a tool belt
without hitting a website or TV network offering tips on taking care of your
digs. Save money by watering your lawn at night! No, water it in the morning!
No, dig it up and replace it with a drought-hardy meadow!
Throw in the info you pick up
from well-meaning friends and there’s a sea of home care truisms out there, some of which can sink your budget.
Fact: Even rock can be damaged.
Marble, quartz, travertine,
soapstone, and limestone can all be stained. Regular household cleaners can
dull their surfaces over time. And marble is maddeningly fragile — it’s the
prima donna of stone.
It’s easy to scratch. It’s easy
to stain. Here’s the worst part: Mildly acidic substances like soda, coffee,
lemon juice, even hard water will eat into marble, creating a cloudy, dull spot
in a process known as etching.
“Spill a glass of wine on a
marble counter and go to bed without cleaning it, the next morning you’ll have
a problem,” says Louwrens Mulder, owner of Superior Stone in Knoxville, Tenn.
And while stone counters won’t
crack under a hot pot, such direct heat can discolor quartz or marble, says
Mulder. So be nice to your counters, no matter what they’re made of. And note
that the best rock for your buck is granite. “It doesn’t stain or scratch. It’s
tough because it’s volcanic rock,” Mulder says. Which means it can stand up to
all the merlot and barbecue sauce you can spill on it.
Myth 2: Your Smoke Detector's Test Button Is Foolproof
Fact: The test button doesn’t tell you what you
really need to know.
Yes, check your smoke detector twice a year. But all that test
button will tell you is whether the alarm sound is working,
not if the sensor that detects smoke is working. Pretty key
The best way to check your device is with real smoke. Light a
long, wooden kitchen match, blow it out, and hold it near the unit. If the
smoke sets off the alarm, it’s working. If not, replace the batteries. If it
still doesn’t work, you need a new smoke detector. And replace those batteries
once a year anyway, because dead batteries are the No. 1 reason smoke detectors
Myth 3: Gutter Guards Are Maintenance-Free
Fact: You gotta clean gutter guards, too.
Gutter guards keep out leaves, but small debris like seeds, pine
straw, and flower buds will still get through.
Gutter guards can lessen your work, though —
sometimes a lot. Instead of shoveling out wheelbarrow loads of leaves and other
crap twice a year, you might just need to clean them every two years. But if
there are lots of trees in your yard, once a year might be necessary.
Tips to Repair Those Dastardly Gutters
Myth 4: A Lemon Is a Great Way to Clean a Disposal
wanting to use natural cleaners is admirable, all of them will damage your
disposal and pipes over time.
The lemon’s acidic juice will corrode the metal parts of your
disposal. The mixture of salt and ice contains metal-eating acid, too. The
coffee grounds are abrasive enough to clean the gunk off the blades and make it
smell like a cup of americano, but they’ll accumulate in pipes and clog them.
The best natural cleaner for your disposal is good old baking
soda. It’s mildly abrasive so it will clean the blades, but it’s a base, not an
acid, and won’t damage the metal. Best of all, a box with enough baking soda
big enough to clean your disposal twice costs less than a buck.
Myth 5: Mowing Your Lawn Super Short Means You'll Mow Less Often
Fact: You might not have to mow as often, but
your lawn will
look like awful.
Cut that grass under an inch high, and you’ll never have to mow
again because your grass will die. Mowing a lawn down to the root — a screw-up
known as scalping — is like cutting all the leaves off a plant.
Grass blades make and store your lawn’s energy. Removing more
than 1/3 of the length of the blade will leave your grass too weak to withstand
weeds and pests. It also exposes the roots to the sun, causing the lawn to dry
out quickly. Leave 1 to 3 inches of grass above the roots to keep your lawn
Myth 6: CFLs Cost Too Much, and Are Dangerous
Fact: CFLs (compact fluorescent lights) have come down in price
since they first hit the market and don’t contain enough mercury to cause any
You can buy one now for as low as $3. And replacing one
incandescent bulb with a CFL will save nearly $60 a year for
the lifetime of the bulb, says Consumer Reports. CFLs last an average of 5
years, so one bulb can save $300. A houseful of them, say 20, will save $600
And CFLs are a safe option. They actually lower your exposure to
mercury indirectly, because they use 70 percent less electricity than
incandescent bulbs. That means the coal-fired power plants that spew 340
million pounds of mercury into the air each year won’t have to run as long to
keep our houses lit. Fewer toxins, lower power bills. What’s not to love?
Myth 7: A Trendy Kitchen Re-Do Will Increase My Home's Value