You want to take good care of your house. Not only does it provide shelter and a cozy environment for you and your family, it’s also your largest investment and you want to make sure it to holds up over time.

That’s why it’s important to avoid these unfortunately common and costly mistakes made by homeowners. Doing these things to your house could cost you big time now – or in the future, if you decide to sell.


Home Improvements

You should never…

Remove architectural features.

You may be tempted to remodel but make sure in doing so, you don’t destroy the charm of your home. That quaint tin ceiling, the chair rail molding along the wall and that detailed millwork are selling features to future buyers. Architectural details offer curb appeal and help distinguish your home.


Get rid of a bedroom or a bathtub.

Bedrooms sell homes, and similarly, so do bathtubs. Families are looking for both when buying a new house. That’s why you should never remove a bathtub in favor of a new shower. You’ll discourage families with kids and pets who need the tub. Similarly, taking down a wall to merge two bedrooms into one large one may be good for you, but it will detract from your home’s future sale price.


Cover wallpaper with water-based paint.

Water-based paint reacts with wallpaper glue, causing it to peel. So, if you paint over wallpaper with water-based paint, you’ll have a peeling mess on your hands. Instead, use oil-based primer to provide a protective barrier. Let it dry fully and then apply latex paint.


Leave cabinet doors on when you’re painting.

Painting your cabinets is an easy way to give your kitchen a facelift without spending tons of money. Just make sure that when you do, you remove the cabinet doors. That way, you won’t paint over hinges and hardware. It will turn out to be a much more professional job. Remember to keep track of which doors go in which spots. Label them with numbers under the hinge locations or back where it won’t be visible.


Do your own plumbing or electrical.

You may know a bit about plumbing or electrical. That doesn’t mean that you should add a bathroom or rewire your house. DIY projects are great when they match your experience. Hire a professional for jobs that are beyond your skill level to avoid costly mistakes.



Daily Living

You should never…

Flush flushable wipes.

They may say flushable, but they really aren’t if you want to keep water flowing through your pipes. Flushable wipes are made from synthetic materials that don’t break down. As a result, they can get stuck in your pipes or make their way to the sewer system and clog it up. The best choice always for toilets is toilet paper.


Let ceiling fans run.

You may think ceiling fans cool down your home. In reality, they move air around which helps your sweat evaporate more quickly. That’s what makes you feel cooler. It makes sense to run a ceiling fan in the room where you are; however, running it in every room when people are not present just doesn’t make sense. It just increases your energy bill.


Leave a brick in the toilet.

It used to be common for people to put a brick in their toilets to displace the amount of water used. That would ultimately save them money. But water causes bricks to crumble over time and those pieces can really damage or clog your pipes. Instead, try filling a half-gallon milk carton with sand and put it in the tank. That will save you a half-gallon of water for each flush. Or you could replace your toilet with a new model that uses less water.


Put starchy food down the disposal.

Starchy foods clump up when they come in contact with water. That’s great for cooking but terrible for garbage disposals, which can get easily clogged. Instead, put the potatoes, rice and oatmeal in the trash or compost pile.


Pour bleach or drain cleaner down the drain.

Diluted bleach is great for cleaning surfaces but not so great for pipes. That’s because this harsh chemical can damage them. Bleach also kills the good bacteria that break down waste. In that way, bleach can actually cause clogs. Drain cleaner also is hard on pipes. If you’re trying to clear a drain, use a pipe snake instead.



You should never…

Plant trees too close to your house.

Trees enhance our property and provide beauty and shade. But having trees too close to our homes can be dangerous. Branches can break off during storms, and in heavy winds, and limbs or trees can fall on your house. In addition, their large root systems can grow into your foundation, weakening it. Always take care to plant trees far enough away from your house: at least 30 to 50 feet away for medium and large trees and 10 feet away for smaller trees (less than 30 feet tall when full grown).


Plant invasive species.

You may love the Rose of Sharon, but if you plant it in your garden, you could find more than you bargained for. This pretty plant is an invasive species, meaning that it will easily take over your garden and your lawn. It’s tough to get rid of invasive species, so do yourself a favor. Don’t plant them in the first place and remove them as soon as possible.


Skip the last mow of the season.

Long grass provides a place for critters to hide. It also means that they will have a safe path to get into your home during the winter months. Keep your lawn short and you’ll be less likely to have these unwanted guests, plus your grass will be healthier.


Leave your hoses connected in winter.

Leaving your hoses attached can trap water which can freeze your pipes and damage them. Don’t make that mistake. Disconnect your hoses when you put away your lawnmower for the winter.


Park your car on your lawn.

It seems like common sense to park in the driveway or on the street and not on your lawn. After all, you could ruin your grass that way. But there’s another important reason. You could create a fire hazard from a hot engine on dry grass. You also may leak harmful chemicals onto your lawn. For these reasons, many local ordinances make it illegal to park on the lawn.


Luckily, home insurance covers repairs from most mistakes like these. An annual review of your homeowner’s policy will ensure you are fully covered. Talk to your insurance agent to see what’s covered under your current policy.



This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or


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