HouseLogic published a list of the top mistakes most new homeowners make. There’s some good advice here whether you’re a new owner or a veteran of the mortgage wars.
1. Avoid using bleach as a cleaner. It can eat through the sealant on granite, discolor grout, dissolve vinyl, and erode seals in your appliances. A mild solution of water and vinegar is a much better choice.
2. Leave the ivy-covered walls to Wrigleyville. Training ivy to climb an exterior wall is asking for trouble. Root systems get beneath siding and shingles, enlarging cracks and providing and easy way in for moisture and bugs.
3. Avoid chemical drain cleaners. The active ingredients—hydrochloric acid and sulfuric acid—can erode your pipes. Even baking soda and vinegar can cause a pressure buildup that cracks pipes. Try old-fashioned mechanical methods instead: use a plunger or snake, or call a plumber.
4. Don’t use glass cleaner on mirrors. The solution often leaks behind the reflective surface, lifting it and causing “black edge.” Instead, clean mirrors with a lint-free microfiber cloth dampened with warm water, and save the Windex for windows.
5. Plant trees away from the house. Even a small tree reaching less than 30 feet tall needs at least six feet of clearance from any exterior wall. Check with the Arbor Day Foundation for tips before planting.
6. Choose the right caulk for the job. Your local hardware store has kitchen and bath caulk, concrete caulk, gutter caulk, mortar caulk, painters caulk, silicone caulk. Do your research online, and make sure you get the right tube for the job.
7. Don’t over-seal countertops. Putting too much sealant on your countertops can create a cloudy or streaky appearance on natural stone, butcher block, and glass. Before sealing, drip some water on a high-use area of your countertop. If the water is still beaded after 15 minutes, don’t apply sealant.
8. Use less mulch. If your mulch is over three inches deep, it will suffocate plants and prevent water from reaching roots.
9. Stack firewood away from exterior walls. Twenty feet is a safe distance. Stacking firewood against an exterior wall is an invitation to termites. And once they get in, they’re tough to remove.