Debunking Common Home Maintenance Myths

As any homeowner knows, keeping your house well-maintained is a lot of work! There’s always something that needs to be done around a home, but how do you know if you’re doing the task correctly or as often as you should? To make matters more confusing, home maintenance misconceptions abound through word of mouth. We’ve compiled – and debunked – some of the most common home maintenance myths you may have come across.

Myth: Cutting Your Grass Shorter Will Allow You to Mow Less Frequently

Mowing the lawn is many people’s least favorite chore. While it may be tempting to cut your grass short so that you don’t need to do it as often, this can have consequences on your lawn. Grass that’s cut too short is more susceptible to weeds, disease, heat damage, and drought. Each species of grass has an ideal mowing height that will keep it lush and strengthen the root system. Once you’ve identified your lawn’s perfect height, it’s best to follow the one-third rule. Set your mower blade to your grass species’ recommended height and mow it often enough that you cut off no more than the top third of the grass.

Myth: Turn Off Your AC When You’re Not Home to Save Energy

It seems like you would save energy by turning off your air conditioner when you’re away from home, right? Unfortunately, that’s not the case. An AC unit that has been turned off for hours has to work much harder to cool down your home. Any money or energy you may have saved during the day is negated by the extra energy it uses once it’s restarted. Also, your AC doesn’t just cool the air – it also dehumidifies it. Turning it off completely allows the humidity in your home to climb, which can lead to mold growth or insect infestations. Instead of turning your AC off entirely, it’s best to turn your thermostat down by 5 – 10 degrees.

Myth: Gutters Only Need to be Cleaned in the Fall

Gutters are incredibly important for directing the flow of rainwater away from your roof, walls, foundation, and landscape. While the fall season certainly brings an increase of leaves and tree branches, debris can accumulate in your gutters throughout the year. Your gutters can’t do their job when they’re clogged, which puts your home at risk for interior or exterior water damage. Clogged gutters can also attract uninvited guests, like rodents, insects, and mold. To keep your gutters clear and working properly, it’s best to clean them in the spring and fall.

Myth: More Insulation = a Better Insulated Home

At some point, many homeowners will need to add more insulation to their homes. While you may think more insulation will result in a better insulated home, you don’t want to go overboard with it. Too much insulation can cause more problems than it solves. For example, putting too many layers of insulation in your attic can cause it to compress, making it less effective. Excessive attic insulation can also block your home’s eaves or soffit vents, which can lead to heat and moisture buildup.

Myth: Test Your Smoke Alarm Using the Test Button

Ask most people how to test their smoke alarm, and their answer will probably be to push the test button. This is a potentially dangerous misconception. When you push the test button, you’re only testing whether the batteries and sound are working. While these are both important, it doesn’t let you know if your smoke detector is actually able to detect smoke. To test that, you can hole a freshly burned out match under it. If the smoke detector is working the way it should, the alarm should sound. As a safety precaution, you should check your smoke detectors twice a year. Since dead batteries account for most smoke alarm failures, it’s also a good idea to replace the batteries once or twice a year as well.

Myth: Your Carpet is Dry if it Feels Dry

Cleaning up water from leaks or flooding is never pleasant, but it becomes particularly troublesome when it involves carpeting. Wet carpet doesn’t always appear wet, and to make matters worse, water can seep down into the lower layers of your carpet and into the subfloor. Even if your carpet feels dry, your floor could be at risk for mold, rot, or other serious issues.

Myth: You Bathroom Exhaust Fan Doesn’t Need Maintenance

Cleaning out your bathroom’s exhaust fan may not sound like a thrilling chore, but it’s one that should be on everyone’s to-do list. All the heat and humidity that accumulates in bathrooms make them the perfect breeding ground for mildew and mold. Your bathroom fan prevents mold and mildew growth – but it can only do that when it’s working properly. Over time, your fan collects dust and grime, which can gunk up the motor. It’s best to clean the grille and vacuum out the mechanical parts every 6 – 12 months to keep it well-maintained.

Myth: Furnace Filters Only Need to Be Replaced Once a Season

Your furnace filter plays a vital role in preventing contaminants from reaching the living areas in your home. Indoor air contains a lot of pollutants – as many as five times as much as what you’d find outdoors. Some homeowners try to save money by only replacing their filters once a season, but in most cases, they should be replaced more often. If you live in an area that’s dry and dusty, have allergies, or own pets, it’s recommended that you replace them once a month. For homes that are in more humid, lush locations, you can generally get by with replacing them every three months. Wondering how you can tell it’s time to replace your filter? Hold it up to the light. If you can’t see light shining through, it’s time for a replacement!

Myth: You Can Add Chemicals to Your Pool Any Time of Day

If you have a pool, you may have heard that it doesn’t matter what time of day you add chemicals. Many pool chemicals, like chlorine, are sensitive to the sun’s UV rays. Adding chemicals during the day can reduce their effectiveness and even cause them to dissipate. For this reason, it’s best to add pool chemicals in the evening.

Myth: You Should Always Remove Asbestos from Your Home

If you live in a house that was built before 1980, there’s a good chance you have asbestos somewhere in your home. Asbestos was once a widely used building material because of its insulating and fire-resistant properties. It was banned in 1978 because the fibers were found to cause several health conditions. However, if you have asbestos in your home, there’s no need to panic or have it removed. According to the EPA, asbestos is only a health concern if it becomes “friable.” Friable means easily crumbled by hand, which releases the fibers into the air. If the asbestos in your home isn’t damaged and you don’t plan on disturbing it, there’s no need to worry about having it removed. The EPA recommends that any asbestos in good condition should be left alone.

Myth: Your Dishwasher is Self-cleaning

It may seem like your dishwasher gets a deep cleaning with every use, but that’s unfortunately not the case. Periodic cleanings are recommended to keep it running well and prevent odors from accumulating. Begin by removing any debris or the tub and filter, so that it can drain properly. Place a couple of cups of vinegar in a clean bowl near the center of the bottom rack and run your dishwasher on its normal cycle without detergent. This will clean and deodorize your washer. If there are leftover mineral deposits, you can use a dishwasher cleaner like Affresh to remove them.

Myth: I Have to Do My Home Maintenance Myself

Home maintenance often gets pushed on the wayside, but it’s essential to protecting your investment and preventing more expensive repairs down the road. If you don’t have the time, tools, or skill set to do your own home maintenance, never fear – call your Home Service Heroes at PECO! We’re a licensed home contractor offering high-quality home repair and maintenance. We’re fully insured and have decades of experience in everything from minor repairs to remodeling. Give us a call today at (864) 639-2424 or contact us online!