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10 bad habits that can cost homeowners in the long run

By: Daniel Bortz The Washington Post
May 26, 2018 Updated: May 26, 2018 at 8:46 am
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Every homeowner makes mistakes. But the real trouble begins when these blunders become habits that cost a lot of money over time. Some behaviors also create safety issues.

If you're guilty of these bad habits, break them - pronto.

1. Inadvertently clogging pipes

Be mindful of what you put down your drains, advises Krystal Rogers-Nelson, home safety and maintenance expert at ASecureLife.com. "Don't flush anything down your toilet besides toilet paper, especially heavier materials like paper towels, diapers or cotton swabs, and paint, oil or harsh chemicals," she says. "Even 'flushable' wipes aren't recommended."

2. Not cleaning gutters

Overflowing gutters can damage your roof, siding or foundation, says Eddie Zielinski, a Lowe's manager in Harper Woods, Mich. Clear gutters of leaves, pine needles and other debris at least twice a year. If you're worried about falling, hire a professional gutter cleaner for about $150, HomeAdvisor says.

3. Letting trees overgrow

Untrimmed trees can create hazards, DeSimone says. Trees near your house should be pruned every two years to keep limbs and branches away from your home. For large or hard-to-reach trees, the risk of injury is high, so hire a trimmer. On average, a tree costs $200 to trim, HomeAdvisor says, but costs vary depending on the tree's size and location. Those near power lines, for example, require more time because crews can't toss the branches down as they work.

4. Slamming the front door

This habit might seem harmless, but repeated slamming can pull the door out of alignment and create gaps that allow outside air indoors - potentially driving up utility bills, Zielinski says. If your front door is slamming shut because of its weight, though, a heavy-duty door closer might solve the problem.

5. Letting dryer lint build

About 2,900 clothes dryer fires occur every year, causing about five deaths, 100 injuries and $35 million in property loss, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Letting lint build up also can increase energy bills because the dryer has to work harder with each cycle.

6. Forgetting to change furnace filters

"Your furnace won't run as efficiently if you don't change the filters," says Zielinski, who recommends replacing them every 90 days. "A lot of programmable thermostats will remind you when it's time to change your air filters."

7. Not changing batteries in smoke detectors

Smoke detectors work only when they're juiced up. Unfortunately, 1-in-5 home fire deaths results from malfunctioning smoke alarms, the National Fire Protection Association reports. In fires in which the smoke alarms were present but did not sound, almost half of the devices had missing or disconnected batteries.

The moral: Replace or change your smoke detector batteries according to the manufacturer's guidelines.

8. Leaving lights on

Sure, it's OK to leave a bathroom light on when you go to bed - and, for safety reasons, it's good to keep a porch light on when you're out of town. But it's cost-effective to turn off the lights when you leave a room.

9. Taking long, steamy showers

Showers lasting more than 10 minutes strip your skin of moisture, make you itchy and increase your water bill. And although they feel great, steamy showers can create mold and mildew. Aim for five-minute showers and avoid blasting the hot water.

10. Wearing shoes in the house

Want to keep a clean home? Wearing dirty shoes in the house spreads dust, toxins and allergens. Researchers at the University of Houston found that nearly 40 percent of soles carry Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, that nasty bacteria often spread in health care facilities that can cause infections.

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