12 Bad Homeowner Habits to Break in 2019

You might consider yourself a stellar housekeeper or a star handyman, but if you're like most homeowners, you probably have one or more seemingly innocuous habits that may be harming your home. Some bad habits can put your exteriors at risk, while others may dramatically shorten the lifespan of your fixtures and appliances. Here are a few bad habits that every homeowner needs to break—now!

Forgetting Filters, Part 1

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clogged dryer vent

It may not be at the top of your to-do list, but forgetting to clean the lint filter on your clothes dryer can have devastating consequences. That's because clogged dryer vents are among the leading causes of household fires, causing more than $35 million in property loss, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Clean out that filter before each use to keep your dryer running efficiently and safely.

Related: 14 Bad Habits That Could Burn Down Your House

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Forgetting Filters, Part 2

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change furnace filter

Furnace filters are an unsung hero of the household, preventing dirt, dust, and allergens from continuously circulating throughout your home. Yet most people don’t change their furnace filters often enough. You should change your furnace filter every two to three months—more often if you have pets. Regularly replacing your furnace filter will help prolong the life of your furnace, keep energy costs down by allowing your furnace to work at maximum efficiency, and maintain healthier indoor air quality.

Related: 7 Reasons Indoor Air Isn’t as Pure as You Think

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Forgetting Filters, Part 3

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change water filter

Many homes today use some form of water filtration, ranging from point-of-use filters on faucets to whole-house systems hooked into the main water supply. Water filters are very effective at removing contaminants, harmful bacteria, and objectionable chemicals from tap water—but only if the filter is free from sediments, scale, and other gunk that can accumulate over time. Make sure you change the filter according to the manufacturer's recommendation. Pay attention to clues that it's time for a change—for example, reduced water flow or a change in the quality of the water—and check your filter regularly to make sure it's working at maximum efficiency and keeping you and your family healthy.

Related: 9 Signs Your Tap Water Might Be Contaminated

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Flushing…Most Things

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don t flush wipes

Even though many wipes and other hygiene items are labeled as flushable, the truth is, they can clog your pipes and lead to an expensive visit from the plumber. Don’t flush garbage, rags, or paper towels, and under no circumstances should you ever flush disposable diapers!

Related: 10 Things Never to Flush Down the Toilet

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Letting Stains Set

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set in stains

The more time a stain is given the opportunity to set, the harder it is to remove. Try to mop up and treat spills, blots, and spots as soon as they occur, or your flooring, upholstery, or clothing could be irrevocably discolored.

Related: How To: Get Rid of Every Carpet Stain

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Keeping Your Shoes On

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wearing shoes in house

Taking off your shoes when you enter the house can help keep interiors cleaner, prevent damage to floors, and may just keep you healthier. Shoes track bacteria, dirt, and sometimes toxic chemicals into your home—in fact, a 2016 study by the University of Arizona found an average of 421,000 different bacteria on shoes, including many types of fecal bacteria. Dirty shoes can dull and damage the finish on your floors, and high heels can cause dents on hardwood floors and snags on carpets.

Related: 8 Dirty Secrets Your Carpet May Be Keeping from You

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Slamming Doors

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slamming doors

Sure, it may be one way to end an argument, but slamming a door can have a lot of negative consequences. That satisfying slam could loosen the hardware and hinges, or even push the doorjamb out of alignment. Gaps between the jamb and the trim of an exterior door can let air leak in and out, leading to increased heating and cooling costs..

Related: Solved! How to Prevent Doors from Slamming

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Ignoring Gutters

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clogged gutters

Clogged gutters can wreak all sorts of havoc with your home, causing water backups in the summer months and ice dams in winter. Water and ice can in turn cause damage to the roof and shingles and to the exterior siding, and can lead to leaks and water damage to interior walls.

Related: The Best Home Projects for Every Month in 2019

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Disregarding Detectors

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check detectors and alarms

Sometimes, the smoke, carbon monoxide, or radon detector is all that stands between your home and disaster. Be sure to clean and inspect detectors on a regular schedule to ensure that everything is working properly; install new batteries seasonally.

Related: 10 Things Your Local Fire Department Wishes You Knew

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Overlooking Overgrowth

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overgrown lawn

Don’t let your yard become a jungle of tangled brush and branches. Dense vegetation can harbor animal and insect pests; overgrown tree limbs can damage roofs, siding, decks, and fences; and aggressive vines and creepers can undermine siding and loosen mortar, damaging foundations and brickwork.

Related: The 10 Best Buys to Make Yard Work No Work

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Using Sinks as Garbage Disposals (Or Not Using Disposals Properly)

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garbage disposal maintenance

The plumbing under your sink is designed to handle water and soapsuds, not coffee grounds, bacon grease, or other food residue. Washing food scraps down the drain is almost like asking for a clog—and an expensive plumbing bill. If, however, you have a garbage disposal, it can handle many types of food waste but can’t process bones, eggshells, fruit pits, potato peels, coffee grounds, grease, or oil. Also remember that disposals need to be cleaned and maintained properly in order to keep working efficiently.

Related: 10 Things Never to Put Down Your Garbage Disposal

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Using Drop-In Toilet Tablets

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toilet cleaner tablet

Bleach tablets and slow-release blue-dye tablets may seem like an easy way to keep your toilet bowl clean, but this convenience extracts a hefty cost in the form of ruined components. Bleach can make the rubber seals, gaskets, and flappers hard and brittle, and can also erode the plastic pieces inside the tank. Slow-release blue cleansers can clump and clog the water jets under the rim of the bowl, reducing the water flow and making it difficult for the toilet to flush properly or completely.

Related: 9 Top Tips for a Bathroom That Cleans Itself

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