The Truth Behind Top Home Maintenance Myths

March 16, 2023

Home maintenance is important. No one disputes that, but there are myths about what exactly needs to be done, why, or when. Let’s take a look at common misconceptions and uncover the truth.

Myth: Power Washing Is the Best Way to Make Your Home Look Like New

Many people believe that power washing (also called pressure washing) is the most effective way to clean various home surfaces and lift grime, dirt, and debris from crevices.

That is incorrect. Soft washing is more effective, and you should get it done every three years. That said, a power wash can be appropriate in cases of paver, concrete, or brick patios, sidewalks, and parking garages.

Soft washing is typically the way to go. It involves using low-pressure water with a high-volume spray. It also uses cleaning solutions on exterior surfaces. A soft wash is safer than a power wash, lasts longer, and can be used on window seals, window screens, and paint.

Myth: A Dry Carpet Is Safe

If you've had a water mishap such as a flooded room, you might think you are in the clear once the carpet is dry. After all, you've probably run the fan for hours, used a lot of towels, and kept the shop vac going.

Unfortunately, a carpet that feels thoroughly dry to the touch can offer a misleading sense of security. Water could have seeped through to the carpet underlay and subfloor. From there, mold growth is possible. Subfloors with water damage may also warp, sag, or rot over the years. Wood subfloors are more susceptible than concrete.

Check with your homeowner's insurance to see if it covers the costs of a professional subfloor dry-out and repair. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Otherwise, do-it-yourself methods can work. However, if you do not solve the problem, it could end up being significantly more expensive down the road. It costs about $500 to $1,000 to repair a small amount of water-damaged subfloor but $6,000 to $12,000 for subfloor and joist repairs.

Myth: You Need To Replace Furnace Filters Only Once Per Season

Think again if you’ve been replacing your furnace filters once every winter, spring, summer, and fall. The reality is that in many places, they need replacing once a month. That is true in dry and dusty regions.

In humid and very green environments, replacing once about every three months should suffice. This timetable is close to changing filters seasonally but still requires more frequent action. Another rule of thumb is to replace your filter if you cannot see a light shine through it.

Myth: Asbestos Must Go

This is a big one. Asbestos is potentially very dangerous. For example, breathing asbestos fibers increases the risk of getting several diseases and cancers.

However, it is a myth that all asbestos in your home must be removed. As the Environmental Protection Agency explains, the health risks of asbestos occur only when the material is pulverized or crumbled. Asbestos in these states can release fibers. If material that contains asbestos is in good condition, leave it alone.

Of course, the story is different if you've been remodeling and the work has disturbed asbestos-containing materials. If the material appears slightly damaged, leave it alone and limit access to it. Avoid touching it and further damaging it. Always call in trained and accredited professionals if you are unsure of what to do.

Myth: Lead Paint Must Be Removed, Too

Similar misconceptions surround both asbestos and lead paint. Although homes built before 1978 may have lead paint, removing the paint is not strictly necessary. It is preferable if circumstances allow it, but not everyone can afford removal.

If the paint is intact, it does not have to be stripped away. Lead paint becomes a hazard when it chips and turns into lead dust. It should be fine for contractors to paint over lead paint with a specifically designed encapsulant. This method tends to be cheaper than removing lead paint.

If your home has lead paint, though, you should continue to check seemingly intact areas for peeling, chipping, or other signs of deterioration.

Myth: Dishwashers Clean Themselves

Dishwashers clean dishes. So, they basically self-clean every time they run, right? That logic seems sound on one level, hence the myth of dishwashers cleaning themselves.

The reality is that debris and food scraps can stick in the dishwasher, and water does not always drain properly. Periodic dishwasher cleaning is a good idea.

Clear debris from the dishwasher tub and filter. Put a bowl in the middle of the bottom rack, and add two cups of vinegar to the bowl. Run a normal cycle without detergent.

If your dishwasher still smells gross afterward, the filter probably needs a thorough cleaning. Follow manufacturer instructions.

Some of what you knew about home maintenance may have been wrong. That’s OK. Best practices do shift over time, and it’s easy to buy into misconceptions. You do not always have to remove lead paint or asbestos, nor should you necessarily pressure wash your home.

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Carlos Diaz
I believe in making the impossible possible because there’s no fun in giving up. Travel, design, fashion and current trends in the field of industrial construction are topics that I enjoy writing about.

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