Contractors say you're probably making these mistakes that are costing you money around the house

Don’t worry — the solutions are simple.

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Sure, spending money is almost always easier than saving it — but that doesn’t mean saving money has to be a pain. Sometimes, the smallest changes (like a new pair of curtains) can make a world of difference in how much money you wind up spending over the course of a year. With that in mind, I’ve reached out to a handful of contractors who were more than happy to share the most common mistakes people make in their homes that eventually wind up costing them money, as well as how to fix them.

From scratched floors to clogged gutters, there’s a little tip in here for any kind of home.


Mistake: Improperly caring for stone countertops

Solution: This sealer that helps protect granite from stains, spills, & more

While granite countertops may look and feel durable, in reality, they still require some maintenance in order to continue looking good. “There are a good number of people that must replace natural stone countertops because they did not properly take care of them,” Amber Carfield, the lead designer at Kitchens by Good Guys, tells Mic. “Natural stone countertops such as marble are very porous stone which means liquids and acidic things such as lemon or lime juice leak into the stone and creates stains and blemishes.”

Luckily, there’s also an easy fix: “The best way to prevent this is to apply a multisurface countertop sealer on your countertops periodically. This will seal the porous stone and keep it safe from harmful split liquids.” With that in mind, this spray creates a barrier on top of your granite countertops to help protect them from stains, spills, and dirt buildup. It’s also formulated to work with marble, limestone, grout, or nearly any other natural stone surface in your kitchen and bathroom — just spritz it on and then use a cloth to wipe it into the stone.


Mistake: Letting furniture legs scratch your floors

Solution: Capping those bare legs with nonslip gripper pads

Thinking ahead and taking preventative measures is one of the easiest ways to keep your home looking good — especially when it comes to your floors. “The second thing that will cost you money down the road is improper furniture protection,” explains Jay Sanders, the owner of Castle Dream Construction. “We aren't talking about covering your furniture with plastic, we are talking about the feet and legs of the furniture.”

Luckily, these gripper pads are so easy to install that you truly don’t have any excuse not to give them a try. They’re made from a solid felt core, with a nonslip rubber exterior that keeps beds, tables, and more from scratching up your hardwood. You can also use them on nearly any type of floor, ranging from concrete to marble.


Also helpful: These markers that help you hide scratches

Now that your floors are safe, it’s time to color over any scratches with these markers. Each order comes with six in various wood-friendly tones, from light oak to dark mahogany — and they work just as well on damaged cabinets as they do on floors.


Mistake: Letting debris build up inside your gutters

Solution: This wand that makes it *so* easy to clean them out

Sometimes the easiest solutions are the least glamorous — like keeping up with regular maintenance instead of waiting until you have to make big, expensive repairs. Ray Brosnan, a contracting expert at Brosnan Property Solutions, tells Mic that “failing to clean gutters can lead to water damage, and neglecting to change air filters can lead to HVAC problems.” And if you need a little guidance on how to keep up with these small fixes? Brosnan goes on to recommend that “homeowners should develop a schedule for regular maintenance tasks to keep their homes in good condition.”

Speaking of gutters, this wand makes it so much easier to keep them clean and clog-free. The telescopic pole extends out from 40 to 70 inches, making it a total breeze to grab that hard-to-reach clump of leaves. Its nonslip handle helps you keep a firm grip — and the scraper head is even made from tough zinc, not plastic.


Mistake: Using chemical cleaners to unclog your pipes

Solution: This drain snake that latches onto debris

“Caustic drain cleaners are not only bad for the environment, but they also create a hazard for a professional using other methods to clean the drain,” explains Doyle James, President of Mr. Rooter Plumbing. “The drain will need to be cleared by a professional plumber using professional tools and equipment,” he says.

However, if your pipes are simply clogged with hair or grime, these drain snakes will likely do the trick while you’re waiting for a plumber to arrive. They’re 24 inches long, making it easy to reach deep down into your pipes — and the small teeth running up and down the shaft latch onto all sorts of blockages. Plus, each order includes a small grabber tool you can use to retrieve small items that have fallen down your drains, like jewelry.


Mistake: Covering bold paint without priming the wall first

Solution: This primer that’s suitable for indoor & outdoor walls

A new coat of paint is one of the easiest ways to makeover your home — but if you don’t prime your walls first, the results can be suboptimal. “When homeowners are repainting their homes from a brighter color to a darker color they frequently try to paint over that bright color without using a gray primer over the brighter color and before applying the darker color,” explains Kelly Mardis, the owner of Marcel Painting. “Not using a gray primer is the perfect way to waste money on paint. You will probably cut the number of coats you need to apply in half if you just apply primer before adding the new color.”

Not only is this primer suitable for indoor and outdoor use, but it only takes about 30 minutes to dry. That means you could get the entire wall primed in just one hour — and there’s enough inside each can for 100 square feet.


Also helpful: These paint tools that cover all the bases

Whether you’re painting your front door or redoing a wall in your dining room, you’ll want to make sure you have the right tools on hand — and this set covers all the bases. The bristles on the paintbrush are made from synthetic fibers, allowing them to hold more paint to help you get your DIY project done faster. And since the included rollers measure in at 4 and 9 inches each, you shouldn’t have any trouble painting surfaces both big and small.


Also helpful: A roll of contact paper that breathes new life into outdated counters

If your counters are made from tile, laminate, or any other material that’s considered outdated, you can easily give them an affordable makeover with this roll of contact paper. Its adhesive backing lets you press it into place the same as you would with a giant sticker — and since it’s made from water-resistant vinyl, you can even install it in damp bathrooms, around sinks, and everywhere in between.


Also helpful: These felt pads that help you move furniture around

On the other hand — if you want your furniture to easily glide across your floors, these felt pads are what you’re looking for. Not only do they help prevent scratches to your floors, but they particularly come in handy when moving, or if you’ve decided to change how you’ve set up your living and bedroom. Many reviewers even wrote about how they “worked great.”


Mistake: Letting a damp basement get out of control

Solution: These sensors that alert you to potential water damage

There’s oftentimes a possibility that water damage can go unnoticed in the basement, leading to a massive repair bill. “The last mistake we have seen over the years is improper basement care,” says Sanders. “Many people will notice a leak in their basement and rather than fix or repair the leak, they throw a dehumidifier down there and call it a day. Yes, the dehumidifier will pull excess moisture from the air, but if there is a continuous leak or seepage of water, problems will arise.” And those “problems” aren’t necessarily easy fixes; Sanders goes on to say that “[...] Water can break down the structure of the home as well as produce toxic mold and mildew.”

With that in mind, these sensors can help alert you to potential problems. The downloadable app tells you in real-time when there’s excess moisture or leaks — and if your phone doesn’t have a signal, the sensors will still let out a loud alarm to alert anyone who is in the house.


Also helpful: This dehumidifier that’s perfect for small spaces

While dehumidifiers aren’t a good fix for leaks, you can still use them to help get rid of moisture in the area — and this one is suitable for spaces up to 225 square feet in size. It runs at a super-silent level, making it great for bathrooms, bedrooms, closets, and more.


Mistake: Letting poor insulation lead to higher energy bills

Solution: This draft stopper that helps seal leaky doors

Though it may be tempting to ignore problems around your home, Chris Estes, the owner of Top Notch Homes recommends tackling them head-on to save yourself a bigger headache down the road. “Covering up issues with the home can often turn out to be a very expensive mistake to make, but it’s done quite often,” he tells Mic. “[...] If you uncover something in your home and find that it needs repair, I recommend you do it right away. Whether it be related to electrical, plumbing, insulation, or even the structure of your home, it shouldn’t be ignored and covered up. Instead, make the right decision and get it fixed then in order to save yourself down the road.”

Speaking of problems, is your energy bill higher than you expect? If so, it could be due to a drafty door — in which case this draft stopper should come in handy. It slides underneath your door to help seal up that gap and features a heavy ceramic bead filling to keep it from shifting out of place when the door swings back and forth. Choose from three lengths: 30, 32, or 36 inches.


Also helpful: This transparent tape that helps seal up drafty windows

Having your windows professionally insulated can cost a pretty penny, whereas this tape is available for less than $15. The weather-resistant adhesive backing stays in place throughout multiple seasons, so there’s no need to reapply every few months — and its transparent look makes it ultra-subtle. And if you ever decide to peel it off? It won’t leave behind any sticky residues for you to scrub away.


Also helpful: This insulation cover that seals up your attic stairs

Cold air leaking down from your attic? Not only can this cover help seal up the draft, but it’s also made from fireproof material that can help protect your downstairs in the event of an HVAC emergency. Installation is also a total breeze — simply staple it over the door frame, then unzip it anytime you need access.


Also helpful: A tape measure that you can use to measure your HVAC filter

Leaving a dirty filter inside your HVAC can force it to work harder than it needs to, resulting in higher energy bills — so grab this tape measure. You can use it to figure out how large your HVAC filter is so that you can easily replace it. Plus, its rubberized case makes it more impact-resistant than some other competing tape measures.


Also helpful: A dry-erase calendar to help you stick to a maintenance schedule

Now that your gutters are clean, it’s time to come up with a schedule to ensure that they stay clean — and this dry-erase calendar can help. Its magnetic backing lets you stick it to your fridge so that it’s easy to reference whenever you need it, and each order even comes with six markers to get you started. The best part? You also get a small dry-erase shopping list as an added bonus.


Mistake: Not checking for bugs on a regular basis

Solution: This flashlight that illuminates all sorts of pests

A few bugs here and there isn’t necessarily a big issue — but a problem can arise when it’s a regular occurrence. “You might prefer to ignore the signs of pets like rodents, termites, and bed bugs; but it can lead to expensive repairs and exterminations,” explains Richard Fung, owner of Forever Homes. “These pests can be the reasons behind your home’s structural damage, and they can also pose health risks to your family.”

Luckily, this UV flashlight makes it easier than ever to locate all sorts of creepy crawlies, including scorpions, bed bugs, and everything in between. You can also use it to find pet stains that are creating unwanted odors — and unlike some flashlights, this one is also made from tough aluminum that’s weather-resistant.


Also helpful: An insect trap that’s ideal for smaller bugs

While that flashlight is great for larger critters, this insect trap is ideal for smaller bugs — like fruit flies and gnats. It doesn’t require any harsh pesticides or sprays, as it relies on a powerful UV light to draw bugs inside so that they get stuck to the disposable glue board. And unlike some insect traps, this one doesn’t produce that harsh zap sound.


Mistake: Overloading your circuits with too many devices

Solution: These smart outlets that you can control remotely

Not all electrical systems are the same — especially if your home is on the older side. “Plugging too many devices into a single circuit can overload it and cause a fire,” explains Fung. “To avoid such danger, distribute the devices across multiple circuits and avoid using too many high-wattage appliances at the same time.”

With that in mind, these smart plugs can be controlled remotely using your smartphone, making it easy to take the stress off your circuits. The best part? Pair them with Alexa or Google Home, and you’ll be able to control them using voice commands — all without having to get up from the couch.


Mistake: Using the wrong cleaners on your hardwood

Solution: This wood polish with a gentle plant-based formula

While some cleansers advertise themselves as suitable for all surfaces, a better option is to choose cleansers that are specifically formulated for hardwood, granite, and more. “You need to use the right cleaning products on each of your surfaces so that the cleaning product fits the surface,” Fung tells Mic. “Otherwise, you might experience damage, discoloration, and chemical burns. Regarding this, always remember to read the labels and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.”

With that in mind, this hardwood polish is specifically formulated for cabinets, as well as all types of wooden furniture. It’s made without any beeswax or orange oils that can leave your surfaces feeling sticky — and the gentle formula easily wipes away grease while simultaneously restoring the wood to its original finish.


Also helpful: These dishcloths that are gentle on delicate surfaces

Now that you have that polish, it’s time to get your hardwood sparkling with the help of these Swedish dishcloths. They’re gritty when dry yet soft when wet, making them suitable for delicate surfaces as well as scouring grime from cookware — and since you can reuse them hundreds of times, they can even help you save money. Choose from eight colors, as well as a multicolor pack.


Also helpful: These magic erasers that remove tough scuff marks

Once your hardwood is looking good, consider using these magic erasers to get rid of stubborn scuff marks from your drywall. Simply get them damp with water, then apply light pressure as you scrub — that’s all it takes to get rid of permanent marker, soap scum, and everything in between.


Mistake: Letting food fall down your drains

Solution: This stopper that helps your pipes stay clog-free

A good rule of thumb is to never pour grease down your sinks. But if you need confirmation? “Avoid putting large amounts of fat, oil, or grease down the drains or the garbage disposal,” says James. “These can solidify and accumulate, potentially clogging your drain.” And with this stopper placed firmly over your drain, the chances of food chunks or grease clogging up your pipes is significantly lower. It compresses slightly when placed on top of your drain, helping keep it from shifting out of place — and the universal design is made to fit nearly any drain.


Also helpful: This container that lets you save bacon grease for later

Instead of pouring bacon grease down your sink, why not pour it inside this container so that you can cook with it later? A built-in strainer removes any burnt bits so that all you’re left with is pure grease — and since it’s made from stainless steel, there’s no need to worry about it rusting over time.


Mistake: Placing art near a natural light source

Solution: These blackout curtains that help darken your home

Keeping all your decor and art in good condition is essential to making sure that your home looks good and stays looking good. But according to Andrew Hernandez, a contractor and co-founder of A-Industrial Design-Build, there’s a common mistake that people make: “Placing expensive furniture or fine art work next to a window under direct sunlight,” he tells Mic. “Older windows may not have UV protection and will sun dry your items due to direct sun exposure. Sun can crack paintings or artwork by its UV rays.”

Luckily, these blackout curtains come in dozens of colors, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding one that suits your style. And not only can they help prevent UV light damage, but they also work to help insulate your home against the weather outside — a must-have in any space with a ton of natural sunlight.


Also helpful: This cling film that helps filter out UV rays

If those curtains don’t suit your style, consider putting this cling film onto your windows instead. It blocks up to 93% of harmful UV rays, which can help keep your artwork and furniture safe from damage — and there’s no adhesive necessary for installation. Simply press it up against the window, and the power of static cling will keep it in place.


Mistake: Letting your rugs curl up at the edges

Solution: These grippers that help them stay flat

Another mistake people make when it comes to keeping their home in good shape? “Not installing rug liners or pads,” says Hernandez. He continues, “A trip to the hospital from a slip on a rug is expensive when compared to the cost of installing a non-slip rug liner under you[r] rug on a slick wood floor.”

Luckily, these grippers are available for less than $25. Unlike regular carpet tape, they use a hook-and-loop fastening system to help keep your rugs lying flat — and they can even be lifted up to clean underneath without having to worry about any adhesion loss. Plus, the L-shape design easily fits into the corners of your rug.


Mistake: Not strapping your water heater down

Solution: These straps that help keep it firmly in place

Your water heater probably isn’t something you think about often — but according to Hernandez, “not properly strapping your water heater” is another mistake people tend to make. “Building codes require strapping in the case of seismic activity or earthquakes and wall straps on a water heater can prevent disconnection, damage and potential gas leaks,” he explains. “Its inexpensive to install and expensive to correct if not done at all.”

With that in mind, these water heater straps are designed to hold firm during earthquakes — and they’re strong enough for use with heaters up to 80 gallons in size. They’re also made from tough galvanized steel, as well as compliant with Uniform Plumbing Code and International Plumbing Code requirements.


Mistake: Putting the wrong kind of food down the garbage disposal

Solution: A strainer that fits into the corner of your sink

Though dumping food down your garbage disposal can be incredibly convenient, throwing the wrong kind of food in there can lead to problems. But if you aren’t sure what foods should be avoided? According to Daniel Johnson, the general manager and responsible master plumber at Dial One Johnson Plumbing Cooling & Heating, “Foods to stay away from putting down your garbage disposal are starchy foods, foods that expand in water, egg shells, coffee grounds, bones, and fibrous/stringy foods.”

The trick is to make sure that everybody in your home avoids tossing those foods down the disposal — so if you have doubts, consider grabbing this strainer. It attaches to the corner of your sink so that your housemates can dump out their dishes without throwing the wrong foods down your disposal. Installation is a total breeze, as each order includes tough double-sided tape.


Also helpful: A tiny trashcan made for your countertop

If you aren’t into that little strainer, this countertop trashcan is a cute alternative. The frame is made from tough metal, and there’s even a lid to help prevent unwanted odors from escaping into your kitchen. Or, if you’re thinking about starting a compost pile, you can get started using it to collect scraps to throw outside later. “Because it only holds the bag and I can see it the contents from the outside, there's no need to clean the bin regularly,” wrote Amazon reviewer Sarah Kim. “It's super cute, too.”