Contractors say these common mistakes make your home dangerous — & what to do instead

Don’t worry — the fixes are *seriously* easy.

Contractors say these common mistakes make your home dangerous — & what to do instead
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Whether you rent or own, feeling cozy and secure in your space is essential. But you might be making a few mistakes that could possibly make your home dangerous — and could definitely make you feel less secure. So, I found out from the professionals what potentially risky mistakes you could be making around the house and how to easily take care of them. Thankfully, these contractors have all of the solutions — and this list has plenty of budget-friendly and easy-to-use finds to help you out.

01

Mistake: Forgetting to deep clean the dryer vent

Solution: Cleaning the dryer vent with this vacuum attachment

Cleaning of the lint screen after drying clothes is a must, but Traci Fournier, vice president of operations of One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning, cautions that may not be enough. She says, “Over time, lint and other debris can build up and clog the dryer vents in spaces you can’t see. This can lead to house fires, musty and moldy smells, clothes taking longer to dry, and an increase in your utility bills."

A super easy way to tackle that hidden build-up is with something like this dryer vent cleaning kit. The hose adapter fits most vacuums, and the nozzle is shaped to fit into tight crevices. In addition to dryer vents, the tool can clean behind and underneath other appliances around the house.

02

Mistake: Ignoring moisture & pest-attracting cracks outside

Solution: Sealing them up with this versatile indoor & outdoor caulk

This durable caulk makes it easy to fill in gaps and strengthen the seals in your home. Josh Riutta, a professional roofer and owner of Mikku and Sons Roofing, says tight seals are especially important because "cracked or damaged siding creates entry points for pests and moisture.” This 100% silicone sealant is mold- and mildew-resistant, won’t shrink, crack, or discolor, and dries in about 30 minutes. And you can use it indoors or out to prevent pests and moisture.

03

Mistake: Not sealing cracks around your home

Solution: Using this clever tool for precise & effort-free caulking

If you’re feeling intimidated by caulking, this handy (and budget-friendly) three-in-one tool helps from start to finish. The tool’s stainless-steel blade can remove old caulk, and the silicone triangle is great for smoothing fresh caulk. Meanwhile, the plastic scraper is perfect for more detailed cleanup. Plus, it has a soft-grip handle that can prevent hand fatigue.

04

Mistake: Not having enough staircase lighting

Solution: Illuminating stairs with these stick-on motion-sensing lights

If you find yourself stumbling down dim staircases, add these motion-activated LED stair lights to your cart ASAP. Riutta says that uneven walkways and steps can be trip hazards. But if you keep them well-lit with these clever stick-on lights, it will be easier to see each step. They’re battery-operated and long-lasting and can be mounted easily with either adhesive tape or hardware. And since they turn on and off automatically, they’re a low-effort way to make your home safer.

05

Mistake: Having poor (or no) lighting on uneven patios or outdoor spaces

Solution: Adding solar-powered railing & stair lights

To illuminate uneven patios, deck stairs, and other outdoor spaces, grab these warm solar lights that charge fully in just four to five hours. Their L-shaped design wraps around stairs railings, fences, and more. Plus, they’re waterproof, so they’re ready to withstand the elements and can be installed anywhere that takes screws.

06

Mistake: Ignoring slippery steps outside

Solution: Adding some traction with these clever glow-in-the-dark strips

Slippery stairs can be an accident waiting to happen, so Riutta recommends using glow-in-the-dark treads such as these. They’re waterproof, so they’re perfect for an outdoor space, or anywhere you need more traction. The treads are made from 80-grit aluminum oxide for maximum traction and adhere to almost any smooth surface, including wood, metal, concrete, tile, or whatever outdoor surface you’re working with.

07

Mistake: Procrastinating tackling cord management

Solution: Tidying *every single* tangle of cords with this complete kit

If you have jumbles of cords behind the TV or behind a desk, you’re not alone. But Riutta says that loose electrical cords could be a “fire hazard.” As a fix, he suggests “securing cords to walls or baseboards with cord covers." This cord management kit includes 152 pieces and has everything you need to keep things tidy. With stick-on cable holders, cable clips, braided cable sleeves, and self-adhesive ties, streamlining all of your wires and securing them to the wall is a breeze.

08

Mistake: Keeping unused devices plugged in

Solution: Organizing tangled cords with these reusable cable labels

Another game changer for tangled-up cords — these reusable cable labels that let you easily see which cords are connected to unused appliances or devices so you can unplug them. This colorful pack includes 36 labels that are easy to write on and feature a reusable hook-and-loop closure that won’t leave behind a sticky residue.

09

Mistake: Constantly slipping & sliding on rugs

Solution: Attaching these grippers that’ll keep your rug secure

Riutta says another common hazard is rugs that move and slide. As a fix he suggests using nonslip rug grippers like these. This pack of four has enough grippers for each corner of your rug, and the best part is — the sticky gel is reusable. Simply lift them off the floor when you’re sweeping, and a swipe of rubbing alcohol is all it takes to revive the adhesive. One reviewer even raved, “I have a rug with a huge curl that looked awful and was a tripping hazard. I attached this gripper to the rug and it works great!”

10

Mistake: Not keeping an eye on candles

Solution: Switching to worry-free flameless candles

Ryan Nelson, real estate investor, home renovator, and founder and CEO of RentalRealEstate loves candles for ambiance, but he also points out they could be a fire risk. Instead, he says, “Consider using flameless LED candles as a safer alternative.” This set of flameless candles is battery-operated and produces a realistic, warm glow. Their chic glass containers will elevate any decor. The clever remote makes it easy to set timers or turn them on from across the room. Plus, you get three in this budget-friendly pack, so you’ll have plenty of them to fill your space with coziness.

11

Mistake: Lighting a scented candle before bed

Solution: Using a flame-free candle warmer for the same vibes

If you still want to use the scent of a real candle without the flame, grab this super cozy candle warmer lamp to get all the yummy-smelling benefits of a real candle. By using this halogen lamp to heat up the candle wax, you can avoid soot, smoke, and flames. This stunning little lamp features a dimmer and a timer, and the glass lampshade looks chic with any decor. Plus, the lamp has a nonslip base to keep things in place.

12

Mistake: Forgetting to check smoke detector batteries

Solution: Keeping batteries ready-to-go with this battery organizer & tester

Nelson says, “Smoke detectors are our first line of defense in case of a fire, but they won't be effective if the batteries are dead.” Simply mount this battery organizer on the wall or stash it in a drawer. It holds 93 batteries (even large ones), so you won’t have any excuse when it comes to keeping smoke detectors up to date. Plus, it comes with a convenient tester that makes it easy to see if your smoke detector batteries still have life in them.

13

Mistake: Using *way* too many candles at once

Solution: Illuminating your entire space with this equally cozy sunset lamp

If you want to fill your entire space with glowy candle-like lighting, this sunset projection lamp is the way to go. You can rotate it 180 degrees to shine the light on the ceiling, floor, or wall. Play around with the size of the sunset by moving this lamp around your space. No matter how you style it, it will fill your space with seriously cozy sunset-like lighting — without any of the open-flame fire risk.

14

Mistake: Never cleaning the inside of your washing machine

Solution: Using these shockingly easy washing machine-cleaning tablets

The washer cleans your clothes, but did you know you’re also supposed to clean the machine? Using cleaning tablets like these can go a long way in maintaining appliances. That’s important because Nelson says, regular home maintenance can save you from pricey repairs and “it can also pose safety hazards.” Use these tablets once a month to clean grime and residue from different parts of your washing machine, including the drum, tub seal, and hoses. The tablets are designed to be safe for septic systems and all types of machines, including high-efficiency models.

15

Mistake: Ignoring a smelly dishwasher that could use some TLC

Solution: Using a dishwasher-cleaning tablet for easy deep-cleaning

Your dishwasher could also use regular TLC, and these cleansing tablets make it so easy. They’re formulated to remove grease, hard water stains, and limescale buildup from your machine’s pipes, filter, and spray arm. And they’re super easy to use — once a month, pop a tablet into the detergent dispenser and run a normal cycle. With a well-maintained dishwasher, you won’t have to worry about sudden breakdowns or water leaks.

16

Mistake: Skipping gutter cleaning day

Solution: Attaching these easy-to-use gutter guards to prevent build-up

To prevent bigger issues down the line, Nelson advises that homeowners “regularly check and clean your gutters.” These easy-to-use gutter guards will save you from having to clean out your gutters way too often. The durable plastic webbing is designed to be rust- and corrosion-resistant and can be cut to size with a pair of regular scissors. Plus, the easy-to-use clips hold the webbing in place while keeping leaves and pests out. Your gutters are also vital to ensuring mold and mildew don’t seep through your attic.

17

Mistake: Not thinking about grime on your AC or its upkeep

Solution: Using this super easy AC cleaner for a spray-on deep clean

Nelson also recommends having “your HVAC system serviced annually” as a part of your home maintenance routine. So book that service appointment. In between appointments, this air conditioner spray is designed to keep the evaporator and condenser coils clean and everything humming smoothly. This easy spray is formulated to clean grime and build-up off of coils. Plus, the self-rinsing formula means it only takes one step to deep clean your AC.

18

Mistake: Walking around at night without any lighting

Solution: Scattering these dimmable night-lights around the house

Shlomo Cherniak, the owner of Cherniak Handyman Services, cautions that inadequate lighting can cause trip hazards and accidents. As a fix, he says, “Add motion-sensor lights or increase ambient lighting.” Inexpensive plug-in LED lights like these are a chic addition to dim hallways, rooms, and staircases. These night-lights have a dimmer switch to customize their cozy glow, and they turn on and off automatically. Plus, these sophisticated lights come in over five colors and simply plug into an outlet for easy setup.

19

Mistake: Not being able to see while you cook and chop veggies

Solution: Sticking these easy puck lights under cabinets for ambient lighting

The dim lighting problem Cherniak mentions can be an issue anywhere in the home, and these battery-operated puck lights are a sleek way to illuminate kitchen counters. You can stick these touch lights under cabinets, in closets, or anywhere that needs extra light with the built-in adhesive (or optional screws). They also last for up to 100 hours on a single set of batteries, and you can use the remote to access dimmer and timer functions.

20

Mistake: Forgetting where your fire extinguisher is (or if you have one)

Solution: Having this mini fire extinguisher on hand nearby fire sources

Cherniak also mentions checking on your fire extinguisher situation. He says, “Check expiration dates and replace as needed,” and suggests grabbing a compact fire extinguisher like this mini option. It’s super budget-friendly, and you can tuck it pretty much anywhere, like under the kitchen sink. It’s designed for multiple types of fires, including electrical, cooking oil, and more. It’s also formulated to not leave a gross residue behind, so if you end up needing to use it, there’s less mess to clean up.

21

Mistake: Not protecting your privacy around the house

Solution: Making yourself feel more secure and cozy with this stick-on privacy film

If you want added privacy to feel secure, Cherniak also recommends grabbing a window film like these easy-to-apply static cling window film. The reusable film can be applied with water and is designed to not leave behind any sticky residue. It looks like expensive frosted glass and still allows plenty of light to flow through. And this chic film comes in a bunch of colors and sizes to create your ideal privacy window look.

22

Mistake: Not replacing old or broken outlet covers

Solution: Upgrading old outlet covers with this cover & shelf combo

Periodically replacing your home’s outlet covers with an outlet shelf like this one is both a practical and an aesthetic update. Korey Gregory, superintendent for ASAP Restoration LCC, says, “Faceplates for outlets and switches can break over time when the plastic becomes brittle. If they break completely this can expose people to the wiring inside of the socket or outlet.” This outlet cover and shelf combo is perfect for holding small items like speakers or smart home devices. The sturdy shelf holds up to 10 pounds, and the plate is shockingly simple to install.

23

Mistake: Living with dampness in the bathroom or kitchen

Solution: Tucking this easy-to-hide DampRid in humid spots

Tackle extra moisture in your space with this DampRid that’s formulated to help with moisture and musty odors. Josh Mitchell, HVAC technician and the owner of airconditionerlab.com, says too much moisture without enough ventilation, “can lead to mold growth, which poses health risks and damages your home's structure." This compact little bucket of DampRid contains activated charcoal to attract and soak up excess moisture. It’s also super easy to use — simply remove the paper cover and replace it when all the crystals dissolve.

24

Mistake: Ignoring mold or moisture issues

Solution: Tackling mold with this effort-free mold & mildew spray

Another way to stay on top of mold issues is with a mold and mildew stain remover spray like this easy-to-use option. It’s designed to be used on a variety of surfaces, including outdoor decks, vinyl siding, kitchen surfaces, concrete, or anywhere that’s stained by mold and mildew. It’s formulated to be fast-acting and doesn’t require scrubbing (such a win). Just make sure you find the source of the mold and mildew, as well.

25

Mistake: Having a smoke detector but no carbon monoxide detector

Solution: Plugging in this compact carbon monoxide detector

Mitchell also highly recommends adding a carbon monoxide detector to your space. For more peace of mind, he recommends the Kidde Carbon Monoxide Detector Alarm. He says the alarm, “is a reliable and affordable option that can save lives by providing early warnings of carbon monoxide levels in your home." It plugs right into an outlet, so installation is a breeze — but it also has a battery backup (in case of power outages). It features a loud, 85-decibel alarm that alerts you when it detects carbon monoxide and a test-hush button to quickly see if it’s working.

26

Mistake: Overloading or using the wrong extension cord

Solution: Utilizing this surge protection power strip that can mount to the wall

Another common mistake Mitchell sees is overloaded extension cords or the wrong type of extension cord. His advice? “Opt for cords with built-in surge protectors for added safety.” He particularly loves this six-outlet surge protector power strip because he says it “provides both functionality and safety for under $20.” This budget-friendly power strip is designed to protect small appliances from electrical surges with a red LED light that lets you know when it’s working. It also has wall-mounting holes so you can keep cords off of the floor and a 6-foot cord so you can place it where you need it.

27

Mistake: Leaving old extension cords cluttering your floors

Solution: Swapping in a plug-in outlet extender with a night-light & surge protection

Another clever option for upgrading your power strip situation (and protecting against power surges) is this super compact outlet extender. The plug-in design features five AC sockets, four USB ports, a surge protector, and a super handy night-light. It also has a small shelf on top that’s perfect for speakers or your phone.

28

Mistake: Unknowingly blocking vents with curtains & furniture

Solution: Deflecting heat with a vent deflector that’s simple to install

“Furniture or drapes blocking HVAC vents not only reduce efficiency but can also be a fire risk if the blocked vent is associated with heating,” says Mitchell. As a solution, he suggests grabbing a vent deflector that will “direct airflow away from furniture and curtains without blocking the vent.” This magnetic option is such a budget-friendly option. It’s adjustable, so you can extend it to fit your unique vent, and you can even install it without tools. It features magnets for use on metal vents and adhesive for installation on wooden or plastic surfaces. It comes in a pack of two.

29

Mistake: Leaving clutter near your doorway

Solution: Setting up designated storage space with this aesthetic wire organizer

Dan Dillon, the founder and chairman of CleanItSupply.com, says, “Excessive clutter, especially near exits, can pose a fire hazard. The key is to organize periodically and use storage solutions.” He specifically recommends these sleek and versatile wire shelves for cleaning up the entryway. It has four sturdy slots to clean up clutter and help get you out the door more easily. Each powder-coated steel cube holds 10 pounds, and they can be stacked in a variety of configurations. Plus, you can put together this minimalist organizer without reaching for any tools.

30

Mistake: Not storing cleaning supplies upright & secure

Solution: Using these customizable organizers to prevent cleaning supply spills

Where you store your cleaning product is another spot that might need some organization, and these pull-out drawers are perfect for preventing cleaning supply spills. These transparent organizers have two levels, and you can use the removable dividers to keep cleaning bottles upright (and prevent them from mixing). The bottom of each one has nonslip feet for extra stability, and there’s a built-in lock to prevent the drawers from falling out and spilling cleaning products.