Are you a first-time homeowner? Have you purchased a new-to-you home? Either way, you have a lot to do. When you’re starting out as a new homeowner, it can be hard to know the right things to do and NOT to do when it comes to home maintenance, cleaning, and general upkeep. Here is some guidance to help you know what not to do.
New Homeowner No-Nos – Inside
Needlessly applying sealant to surfaces can permanently discolor stone, concrete, and glass, to name a few. Never use sealant on natural materials like quartz, plastic materials like laminates, or commercial acrylic products such as Formica and Corian. Generally, most materials will not need reapplication of sealants very often. Instead, test surfaces using water to check if it’s time to reseal. For example, if water on a kitchen countertop no longer beads, it may be time to reapply.
Chemical drain cleaners contain active ingredients that can damage plumbing. Drain cleaners may seem like easy, short-term fixes for clogs, but they can lead to long-term, costly problems. And the chemicals in drain cleaners are just plain bad for the earth. Instead, invest your money in a good plunger, a drain snake for tougher clogs, and if those plumbing tools don't work, call a plumber.
Here's a little-known consequence to spraying commercial glass cleaner on mirrors: The liquid can seep into the backing on many types of mirrors, leading to discoloring around the edges of the mirror over time and irreparably damaging the backing. Instead, simply dampen a microfiber cloth with warm water and immediately apply a dry cloth to remove excess water.
Bleach is actually damaging to most elements and materials found in use in homes. Do not use bleach to clean sealants on granite and other stone surfaces, vinyl, linoleum, and laminate materials, colored grout, enamel, or acrylic surfaces in a bathtub. Never mix bleach with cleaners that contain ammonia! Doing so produces highly dangerous and toxic vapors. Instead, use a vinegar solution. Nothing is better or healthier for cleaning most surfaces in your home.
New Homeowner No-Nos – In and Out
Using the wrong caulk can be damaging. That’s because there is a right caulk for the kitchen, bath, gutters, brick or concrete, mortar, and so on. The wrong caulk won’t adhere, or will breakdown, allowing moisture to seep in, or compromise the surface you’re caulking. Instead, ask your local hardware specialist for advice on buying the right caulk for your project.
Invest in well-made tools for your new home – a hammer, screwdriver set, ladder, and maybe a mower. Avoid buying inexpensive, knock-off brands even if you’re on a budget – they are not made to last. Instead, for budget-conscious homeowners, visit yard sales and look for used tools from quality brands, or start slow with a basic toolbox and build up your set over time.
New Homeowner No-Nos – Outside
For your first landscaping project, do not over-mulch. Too much mulch can suffocate plants and prevent water from reaching roots. Instead, add mulch to no deeper than three inches.
It may look charming, but ivy will keep growing. Eventually ivy will spread under a home’s siding or shingles, damage their integrity, and ultimately cost you, either in replacing siding, providing entry points for invading pests, or both! Instead, research how and where to thoughtfully plant ivy. A quick web search can also provide better alternatives for plants to safely grow along the base of your home. Note: Plants need to be placed two feet minimum away from the foundation.
Planting trees close to a home may look nice when the trees are young, but they grow, too! You need to consider the room that baby tree will need at maturity. Trees planted without thought to full height can grow roots that push up through your driveway, sidewalk, and foundation. Instead, plant each tree according to its height and root spread at full maturity. The Arbor Day Foundation has a handy tree spacing guide to help you ensure adequate clearance from your home, fencing, and so on.
Do not store firewood right outside your home against exterior walls, otherwise you will invite termites and other pests into your home. Instead, keep firewood at least twenty feet from your home, or further if your property provides room to do so. Better to take a small hike out to the wood pile than let pests make an easy hike into your new home.