Handymen say these common mistakes damage the inside & outside of your home — & here's what to do instead

They’re all a breeze to fix.

We may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

Your home is a big investment, so it's smart to avoid mistakes that could cause damage and headaches down the road. I consulted handymen and home experts on the most common errors they see (and you might not even know you’re making them). From preventing water damage to keeping your lawn looking amazing, these experts have all the tricks on how to protect your space with some easy-to-find products.


Mistake: Being unaware of water damage & leaks

Solution: A compact water detector that has a loud alarm

Bethany Uribe, a division manager and estimator for ASAP Restoration LLC, says that when it comes to leaks, even a small one “can lead to a big mold problem that takes over huge swaths of a home, even in areas that never got officially wet. This is because mold lives off of water and water vapor too. If a home is moist enough from that regular leak, then mold spores will take hold almost anywhere.”

One way to stay on top of small leaks is with a battery-operated leak detector. This compact, waterproof option has an adjustable alarm as well as a low-battery alert. And it’s easy to use — simply place the detector where you want to monitor leaks with no electricity or wiring necessary.


Another Solution: A trimmable silicone mat that catches all kinds of drips

Sometimes, a leak is so subtle you barely notice it, but this silicone mat can collect drips before they cause damage. This flexible silicone mat can be trimmed to size with the built-in trim marks to fit it around pipes. It can also hold over 3 gallons of water, protecting cabinets from drips, small leaks, and mold damage that Uribe cautions against.


Mistake: Cleaning walls with bleach or harsh chemicals

Solution: This pre-mixed spray that can remove mold & mildew stains

Brandon Walker, a foreman at ASAP Restoration LLC, says, “Walls, or anything painted, should never be cleaned with bleach. The reason for this is because bleach will strip the sheen off painted surfaces in whatever pattern it was “washed” from.” This stain-removing spray tackles tough mold and mildew stains below the surface with a few easy spritzes. It’s also safe to use on a number of surfaces, including wood, vinyl siding, brick, concrete, and more. Plus, it’s easy to use — no scrubbing is required to handle mold stains.


Another solution: This pleasantly-scented spray designed to gently clean walls

To avoid removing the sheen from paint, Walker says it’s important to use care when washing indoor walls. This multipurpose spray is free of bleach and VOCs, which may be irritating. It also comes in four different space-freshening scents and is designed to be safe for all paint finishes.


Mistake: Overlooking insulation on doors

Solution: A stick-on draft stopper that reduces heat & air conditioning loss

Jake Herman, CEO of Spray Foam Insulation USA, recommends “addressing drafts and leaks around windows and doors with weatherstripping or door draft stoppers.” He says, “This simple adjustment can significantly enhance a home’s thermal retention.” This stick-on door draft stopper is a budget-friendly fix with two layers to block out noise and reduce energy loss. Installation is easy with the attached adhesive, and the material can be cut to size, making it a perfect fit for most doors.


Mistake: Storing tools & supplies in the elements

Solution: These tidy hook-&-loop storage wraps to store them in a safe spot

“You need to be careful about the items you store in the less temperature-controlled places on your property – like your garden shed, your garage, your attic, and your basement,” says Jeremy Yamaguchi, CEO of Lawn Love. “These spaces are all more prone to hotter and colder temperatures depending on the season, as well as higher chances of being exposed to moisture and pests.”

These hook-and-loop storage wraps can wrangle hoses, ropes, wires, and small appliances to make it easier to store them in the correct spot (and to move them around). They’re made of weather-resistant polypropylene, and they have a stainless steel grommet, so you can hang them up in the perfect temperature-controlled spot.


Mistake: Storing cleaning supplies precariously

Solution: Secure shelves with built-in hooks

Yamaguchi also advises homeowners to “take extra care” when storing items like liquid solutions and electronics. This clever under-sink organizer is two shelves that fit on either side of plumbing, and each shelf can even comes with hooks on the side, so you can hang spare sponges, bags, or whatever else you have stored under your sink.


Mistake: Leaving exterior wood untreated

Solution: This waterproofing spray that’s such a breeze to use

Randy Smith, owner of The Handyman Company, says that treated wood should be sealed annually. He recommends this budget-friendly waterproofing spray because he says it “not only shields the wood from the elements but also helps prevent issues like swelling, cracking, warping, and discoloration.” It’s ideal for spritzing onto and protecting surfaces like concrete, brick, and exterior wood. It hides the grain while still allowing the texture to show through, and it even contains UV-resistant polymers to protect against sun damage.


Mistake: Being too harsh on stainless steel appliances

Solution: A cleaning spray that’s made with coconut oil & essential oils

Luke Kinser, lead community developer and contractor in Virginia, as well as the co-founder of Virginia Builders, says, “When it comes to home surfaces, I advise gentleness.” So, when it comes to scrubbing stainless steel appliances, this pH-neutral spray fits the bill, thanks to its coconut oil and essential oil formula. It’s designed to gently remove fingerprints, smudges, and grime, while leaving behind a scratch-inhibiting barrier. The spray also comes with a microfiber cloth to make it even more gentle.


Mistake: Cleaning wood floors with a harsh cleaner

Solution: This expert-recommended cleaning kit for your floors

Kinser also says, “For under $15, specialty cleaners designed for these delicate surfaces, like Bona for hardwood, can make all the difference in longevity and appearance. An investment in the right tools pays itself many times over.” This all-in-one cleaning kit comes with a mop, microfiber cleaning pad, refillable reservoir, and, of course, the recommended Bona cleaning formula. The quick-drying cleaning solution is ideal for wood floors, and it won’t leave behind a residue. You can also toss the pad in the wash to refresh it for your next cleaning day.


Mistake: Not cleaning air conditioner filters

Solution: A cleaning spray that gets rid of grime in your HVAC filter

Peter Duncanson, vice president of training and development at ServiceMaster Restore, has this advice: “Regularly clean and replace HVAC filters to reduce dust and allergens which could lead to temperature and humidity fluctuations damaging your home.” If it’s not quite time for a full replacement, grab this filter-cleaning spray to break down contaminants with no rinsing required. It’s designed to remove build-up, restore airflow, and help your filter until it’s time to swap in a new one.


Mistake: Not replacing HVAC filters

Solution: This filter replacement that blocks dust & allergens

When your filter actually needs to be replaced, grab these seriously clever replacements that are designed to help with allergies. They draw in and trap contaminants, including dust, pollen, and mold spores, while allowing clean air to flow through. Plus, they can be used in a combined HVAC system or in stand-alone heating or cooling system.


Mistake: Forgetting to test important smoke & carbon monoxide detectors

Solution: An organizer & tester to easily access working batteries

Duncanson also says, “Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and replace batteries to ensure your home remains safe and protected.” To keep track of your battery inventory, grab this storage case with a built-in tester. The case holds 93 batteries and can be stowed in a drawer or mounted on the wall. The included battery tester lets you check to see which ones still work. Having a stockpile will come in handy when it’s time to update batteries in your smoke detector, and you can even mount this case on your wall.


Mistake: Letting clogged gutters cause water damage

Solution: This mesh gutter guard that’s shockingly easy to pop on

When it comes to your gutters, Duncanson says, “Clean gutters and downspouts to remove blockage and allow water to flow properly.” Because blockages could cause wall and roof damage, it’s smart to put in preventative measures. To reduce the leaves and debris that get stuck in your gutters in the first place, use this durable polypropylene mesh cover. This lightweight covering can be cut to size and includes clips to prevent sagging. Plus, you can cut it to fit, so popping it on the roof is a breeze.


Mistake: Delaying cleaning your gutters

Solution: A telescoping cleaning wand that attaches to your garden hose

To clean out any leaves that are already in the gutters, reach for this popular telescoping wand that attaches to your garden hose to quickly spray out debris. It extends to 70 inches, eliminating the need for a ladder for your gutters. Plus, it has a rotating nozzle and adjustable head to find all of the hidden leaves.


Mistake: Forgetting to lock sliding doors & more

Solution: A clever security bar that works with sliding doors & more

Avery Kempe, owner and lead locksmith at Quickey Locksmith, says an “issue I frequently encounter is homeowners failing to secure sliding doors and windows adequately.” Kempe says that a simple and effective fix is to use a security bar like this option. This adjustable bar can make you feel more comfortable when traveling or serve as an extra measure at home. It has rubber tips to use on sliding doors or windows and a heavy-duty forked tip to use on a regular doorknob.


Mistake: Using harsh chemicals on drain clogs

Solution: These flexible drain snakes that quickly twist out clogs

Josh Mitchell, Plumbing Technician and owner of plumbinglab.com, says, “Instead of chemical drain cleaners, use mechanical methods to clear clogs. A drain snake or plumber's auger breaks up and removes blockages from drains and pipes.” Investing in this super popular drain snake is a gentle and super quick way to remove clogs. It features a reusable handle and five disposable wands, making cleanup simple. It’s also a breeze to use — simply insert the rod into the drain, twist the handle, and pull up to remove the clog.


Another Solution: This clever clog remover that attaches to an electric drill

Another option Mitchell recommends for manually removing clogs is a drain auger such as this one. This durable drain auger features 25 feet of flexible plumbing snake and a large hand crank. You have the option of using the drain auger manually or with an electric drill for tougher jobs.


Another Solution: A low-profile hair collector that prevents clogs before they begin

If your clogs are caused by hair collecting in pipes, a drain protector like the TubShroom can nip issues in the bud before a clog. This low-profile device collects hair around the column while still allowing water to flow through unobstructed. Most importantly, the TubShroom is easy to clean, making the task a little less gross.


Mistake: Not having a water pressure gauge

Solution: A simple faucet gauge that can extend the life of your plumbing system

Mitchell also advises homeowners to invest in a budget-friendly gauge like this option to monitor water pressure. The durable brass design has an easy-to-read pointer, and it works with almost any faucet or hose. It works on washing machines, garden hoses, faucets, and more. Mitchell says, “Attach the gauge to an outdoor spigot or faucet with a threaded connection. Turn on the water and check the pressure reading, aiming for 40 to 60 psi. If the pressure exceeds this range, install a pressure regulator. Maintaining proper pressure extends the fixture lifespan, conserves water, and reduces utility costs.”


Mistake: Leaking faucets

Solution: An O-ring kit that’s a quick fix for leaks & drips

Mitchell also says, “worn-out washers or O-rings” are the thing to look for with leaking faucets. This budget-friendly kit includes over 1,400 pieces, so there’s a durable replacement for any job. Plus, the O-rings are made from weather-resistant nitrile rubber material, so they can stand up to water or the elements. It also comes with four different tools to make popping on these rings a super easy process.


Mistake: Unsealed windows

Solution: An easy-to-use insulation kit that can save energy

Alexander Havkin, regional sales manager of Ecoline Windows, says, “Another oversight I often see homeowners make is improper window insulation. Heat can escape through both the glass and frame of closed windows, even when they appear shut.” For an inexpensive fix, Havkin recommends the Duck Brand window insulation kit for “maintaining your home's temperature and reducing energy costs.” This clever kit doesn’t require any measuring, either. Simply roll out the transparent insulation material and cut it to size. It’s also designed to be safe for use on painted or finished wood, aluminum, and vinyl around windows.


Mistake: Not having well-lit outdoor spaces

Solution: These LED lights that also help keep away flying insects

Bob Berriz, founder of Berriz Design Build, says the “underestimation of landscape lighting maintenance can detract from your home’s curb appeal and create safety issues.” He highly recommends cleaning and swapping out bulbs with LED options like these clever LEDs. Warm amber bulbs like these are outside the visible spectrum for most insects, so they won’t attract pests to your outdoor space. Plus, the classic Edison bulb shape fits nearly all light fixtures and is designed to last for about 20,000 hours.


Another Solution: These sleek deck lights that are powered by the sun

These versatile solar lights are another convenient (and sleek) way to add outdoor lighting to your space. The warm-white lights automatically turn on at dusk and off at dawn, and they can charge fully in just a few hours of direct sunlight. They’re ideal for on top of deck railings, on stairs, fence posts, or anywhere you can insert a screw.


Another Solution: This impressive rope lighting that can outline steps & railings

If you’re choosing outdoor bulbs, Berriz suggests choosing an LED option like these warm-white rope lights over other varieties. He says, “This simple switch not only improves the quality of outdoor lighting but also contributes to energy savings and reduces the need for frequent bulb replacements, keeping your outdoor spaces safe and inviting.” These flexible rope lights are 24 feet long, but you can connect multiple sets to extend their reach. Plus, they can be securely affixed to stair risers or railings with the included mounting clips and screws.


Mistake: Not covering your outdoor AC unit

Solution: This easy-to-use cover that can protect your air conditioner

Instead of “neglecting proper outdoor living space maintenance,” Berriz says, “investing in high-quality covers for outdoor appliances, plumbing fixtures, and furniture, which can protect them from the elements and extend their usability.” This air conditioner cover features heavy-duty mesh that blocks leaves and debris without getting in the way of airflow. It also has elastic bungee cords and non-scratch hooks to tie it down.


Mistake: Leaving outdoor furniture exposed to the elements

Solution: These waterproof covers that can extend the life of your patio seating

It’s also important to think about outdoor maintenance with outdoor furniture, and this waterproof cover can extend its lifespan and keep it looking perfect. This cover features weather-resistant Oxford cloth and durable waterproof details on the seams. It also has padded handles for easy removal and plenty of adjustable drawstrings and straps to securely cover your belongings.


Mistake: Not caulking gaps & outdoor cracks

Solution: This super quick exterior sealant that can prevent moisture damage

Justin Whittaker, an expert in construction at Reliable Roofing, Siding, and Windows, says, “Cracked, loose, or missing siding pieces can expose your home to moisture, pests, and further damage to the insulation layer.” For a quick fix, he advises homeowners to use an exterior-grade caulk such as this one to seal and repair minor cracks. This caulk is ideal for a number of surfaces, including mortar, vinyl siding, and brick. Plus, it’s paint- and rain-ready in just one hour to make it extra-easy to use.


Another Solution: A gadget that makes it easier to remove & replace exterior caulk

To make applying exterior caulk even easier, grab this three-in-one tool that helps to remove old caulk and evenly spread new material quickly. It features a stainless steel blade for removing old caulk, a silicone triangle for smoothing fresh beads of caulk, and a plastic scraper for general cleanup. Plus, it has a soft grip handle to keep your hands comfy.


Mistake: Not taking steps to prevent drain problems

Solution: A sink strainer that catches food debris

Hendrik Vandepoll, the master plumber and co-owner at Service Force Plumbing, says, “The fact is that almost nothing should go down the kitchen sink drain, even if you grind it up with the garbage disposal first.” To prevent clogs, Vandepoll recommends these durable stainless steel strainers. He loves that they have a little handle to easily pull them out after dinner cleanup, and you can put them in the washing machine. Compared to their plastic counterparts, this durable steel version should last for a long time (and look nice).


Mistake: Windows that aren’t properly sealed

Solution: This transparent windows tape that can seal out moisture

Whittaker says that another common mistake he sees is “ignoring the importance of proper window sealing and installation.” He says, “Drafty or improperly sealed windows not only lead to energy loss but also can cause water to seep into the walls, leading to mold and structural damage.” An easy and budget-friendly solution is to use a product like this weather-sealing tape. The puncture-resistant tape is long-lasting and can prevent water and air from coming in through the windows. Plus, it’s safe to stick onto multiple window trim surfaces and won’t leave behind a sticky residue.


Mistake: Neglecting pruning greenery

Solution: These pruning shears with a good grip & rust resistance

Marco Picano, entrepreneur and co-owner of Picano Landscaping, says, “Another critical issue is the neglect of tree and shrub pruning, which can lead to property damage during storms or high winds. Overgrown branches can easily break and damage roofs, windows, and vehicles.” He continues, “Regularly trimming trees and bushes not only prevents this type of damage but also promotes plant health and aesthetics.” To make the task more manageable, Picano recommends a pair of pruning shears, and this budget-friendly option is super popular. The shears feature a sharp precision-ground blade and a low-friction coating for smooth cuts and rust resistance. The shears also have nonslip grips and an easy-to-use lock.


Another Solution: A tarp that collects landscaping debris while you prune

An additional item that can make pruning more efficient is a landscaping tarp. This lightweight version is waterproof and features a 12-inch hole in the middle that fits around the trunks of shrubs and small trees. Plus, the corners buckle together to catch debris, allowing for quicker cleanup.


Mistake: Letting water pool around your foundation

Solution: A cleverly collapsible rake to easily grade the soil around your home

Picano says that another mistake he sees homeowners making is “overlooking the importance of proper grading around their home.” He even says it “can lead to water pooling around the foundation, causing seepage and cracks.” Fortunately, this is a pretty easy fix. Picano recommends a basic garden rake like this cleverly collapsible option to adjust the soil grade around the foundation of your home. Not only is it foldable, but it also has a telescoping handle that extends to 63 inches and then folds down for easy storage. And the rake’s teeth are also adjustable, perfect for small jobs like under hedges.


Mistake: Overwatering your lawn

Solution: An easy-to-use watering timer to prevent a soggy lawn

Ryan Farley, CEO of LawnStarter, says, “One fatal mistake for any lawn is overwatering. Some homeowners are poor judges of how much water their lawn needs, and they think it's better to give it more. It's best to give your lawn roughly 1 inch of water each week. You can do this in one watering session or spread it out over the week.” So, grab this watering timer to ensure your lawn doesn’t get too soggy. The timer allows you to set the duration (from one minute to four hours) and frequency (from six hours to seven days) of watering your lawn. And if it rains, you can delay watering without interfering with your set program.


Another Solution: This oscillating sprinkler with a built-in timer button

Another option for monitoring water is this oscillating sprinkler with a timer dial built right in. It’s designed to cover up to 4,500 square feet of lawn, and the controls allow you to adjust the width or even how far the spray goes. Plus, for users with well water, the sprinkler’s dirt-resistant drive helps to keep the system running smoothly.


Mistake: Using harsh cleaning methods outside

Solution: These drill brush attachments with bristles for every job

Avoid damage to exterior surfaces by choosing gentle cleaning methods, such as soft-bristled brush heads. Andriy Boyko, seasoned masonry expert with A.O. Handy Inc., advises homeowners to “clean masonry surfaces by using light cleaning agents (and a soft-bristled brush that won’t scrub too hard) to remove dirt and stains.” These brush heads attach to a power drill and have different bristle stiffness options, so you can choose the right bristles for the job. They’re also finished off with a 0.25-inch quick-change shaft that connects to almost all drills and impact drivers.


Mistake: Having poor gutter drainage around the foundation

Solution: These rubber downspouts that look sleek & direct water away

Boyko cautions that inadequate drainage around the foundation of the property can cause water damage and mold growth. He advises homeowners to regularly clean their gutters and downspouts. He adds, “You can also consider installing gutter extensions or splash blocks to divert the water runoff.” These splash blocks are made of 100% recycled rubber and can prevent washouts near the downspouts. They’re designed to not crack or chip in inclement weather and downpours. The brown color blends in with landscaping, or they come in four other colors to match your home or garden.


Mistake: Leaving cracks in masonry & outdoor surfaces

Solution: A budget-friendly pre-mixed formula that can repair cracks

Boyko says that large cracks or structural issues should be taken care of by a professional, but small issues can be fixed with a patching compound, such as this budget-friendly option. He says, “If the opening is small, there’s no reason why you can’t fill it by using a good masonry caulk or a patching compound.” This compound is pre-mixed and cleans up up with just soap and water. And it lasts for a long time, resisting shrinking and cracking.


Mistake: Misusing mulch that then attracts pests

Solution: This rubber mulch that provides a protective barrier

Mulch can prevent weeds and improve curb appeal, but Scott McLeod, owner of McLeod Landscaping Inc., says that using mulch too close to the siding of the home can lead to pest infestations and rot. To prevent damage, McLeod recommends adding a protective barrier. He says, “For this, I recommend a rubber mulch or pea gravel barrier.” This shredded, recycled rubber mulch keeps weeds under control without attracting insects that could be damaging. It comes in a big bag to make this solution even easier. Plus, the timeless color will blend in with your landscaping.