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6 Normal Things That Are Actually Hurting Your Home

Once you’ve held a set of keys to your own home, you’ve “made it,” right? But homeownership is a big responsibility, with big financial implications if its not maintained properly.

From “flushable” wipes to the build-up of moisture, these six things are deteriorating your home, and contributing to future maintenance costs.

No.1: The Filters You Forget About

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You clean the dryer lint filter every time you do a load of laundry – or, you should anyway. But there are other daily use filters around your home that you’ve probably forgotten about, like the filter in your furnace, humidifier, dehumidifier, washing machine, dishwasher, and the one tucked in the back of your refrigerator. Oops.

Neglecting to check, change, or clean appliance filters leads to a build-up of dust balls, pollen, allergens, and other impurities. Plus, dirty filters put a strain on hard-working appliances, which increases dangers and the cost of your power bill. Clean filters regularly. Wash, rinse, and dry disposable filters before fitting them back into place.

Note: Don’t try and extend the lifespan of disposable filters. You can’t vacuum out or wipe away the super-small particles embedded in them. Fresh is best.

No.2 Moisture

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Homes are meant to “breathe.” It’s a good idea to open the windows from time to time and let some fresh air in. But, over time, a buildup of moisture can be detrimental to your home. Water wears. Mold destroys. And any moisture contributes to the growth of mold. Since mold feeds on dust and dirt (two things ever-present in your home, no matter how often you clean), high moisture levels can encourage mold growth.

If anything is left wet for more than 24 hours, mold is already growing. Keep indoor humidity low, below 60 percent (ideally 30 to 50 percent). Running a fan also encourages circulation. Replace your air filters regularly and check to see that the grading near the foundation of your home is keeping water away.

No.3 Wearing Your Shoes Inside

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The bottom of your shoes—anyone’s shoes, for that matter—are completely disgusting and filled with particles, big and small, from the outside world. One study conducted by the University of Arizona, found E. coli on 90 percent of shoes tested. Yikes! An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so ask your children and your houseguests to kindly leave their shoes at the door.

Instead of tracking E. coli, C. diff (a dangerous bacterial strain that can cause symptoms ranging from diarrhea to fatal infection), viruses, pesticides, and other contaminants all throughout your home, buy each family member their own pair of house shoes. And promise yourself you’ll never wear yours outside, not even to water the flowers or to go check the mail.

No.4 Clogged Gutters

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Clearing out clogged gutters is another regular chore that comes with owning a home. It requires a sturdy ladder, a weekend, getting over a fear of heights, and a substantial amount of balance. Though, when you forgo the seasonal gutter clean-out, you risk the very foundation of your home. Water with nowhere to go seeps inside nooks and crannies and cracks and crevices. These small cracks can lead to severe structural damage and can have impacts for your entire house. Tackle this task seasonally so you don’t have costly repairs later on.

No.5 Dangerous Trees

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In addition to cleaning the air, providing oxygen, cooling the streets, and conserving energy, studies have show that tress also reduce violence. Who would have known? Trees can also enhance property value and contribute to the aesthetics of what is considered a ‘good’ neighborhood, but trees can grow in locations that are less than ideal. Unruly tree roots can buckle driveways and crack sidewalks, which can become safety hazards. Large and looming trees with a trajectory to fall right on your house or garage can be an insurance claim (and a headache) waiting to happen.

Dying trees and already-dead limbs are dangers during violent storms and heavy winds. Evaluate the trees surrounding your home. If you have questions, call a tree service for their expertise and what they recommend to protect your home.

No.6 Using “Flushable” Wipes

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Are these popular pre-moistened towelettes really “flushable”? Manufacturers say they are, but cities with clogged drains and damaged wastewater equipment and plumbers whose phones are ringing off the hook can agree to disagree: no matter what the packaging says, don’t flush wipes down the toilet. You may see it swirl away and disappear, but these flushable wipes are congregating at that 45-degree elbow where your plumbing connects with the rest of the street. Avoid a disaster waiting to happen and always dispose of these wipes in the trash.