Myth 1: Laundry bleach is the best product to remove mold and keep it from returning.
EPA researchers compared 12
over-the-counter cleaning products
with diluted household
bleach. They used each product
to clean the mold on individual
samples of painted and bare
gypsum drywall. Then they
stored the samples under ideal
mold growing conditions and
monitored them to see how
much mold returned. Diluted
bleach scored the worst on bare
(unpainted) drywall. It fared better
on painted drywall, but not
as well as the leading cleaning
product, full-strength Lysol All-Purpose Cleaner Orange Breeze.
The researchers also tested the
cleaners on wallpapered samples
and mold-inhibiting paints.
To read the research paper, go to
and search for
Myth 2: Cheese is the best bait for mousetraps.
Cheese isn't on any mouse's “top-10 list.” They'll
only eat it if nothing else is available. Plus, cheese
hardens after sitting out for a while, making it
easier for mice to “steal” the bait without setting
off the trap. The perfect bait is actually peanut butter or
bacon, or a blend of peanut butter and bacon grease. Mice can't
resist the smell and taste. So wipe that on the trip mechanism to get the greatest
number of “catches.”
Myth 3: The best time to water grass is in the evening so the water doesn't evaporate.
Evening watering does reduce
evaporation, allowing the soil to
soak up and hold more water. But
it also sets up the perfect growing
conditions for mold and other
lawn diseases. The best time to
water your lawn is in the early
morning hours as the sun is rising.
Late riser? Use a watering timer.
By the way, an impact sprinkler
is the most efficient type of sprinkler.
Avoid sprinklers that shoot
fine spray or streams
into the air—the
Misunderstanding 1: You should never paint stucco.
Ordinary house paint seals the pores
on stucco. And as the stucco expands
and contracts, the paint cracks, breaking
the seal. Then water enters the stucco,
gets trapped inside, and pretty soon
the paint starts to delaminate. It doesn't
take long before you're left with sections
of bare stucco and patches of
paint—not a pretty sight.
However, you can use elastomeric
paint, which is formulated for stucco. It
expands and contracts with the stucco
and resists cracking (one brand is
Valspar Duramax Elastomeric Exterior
Masonry and Stucco Paint).
Elastomeric paints also breathe,
allowing moisture to get out. The best
part: DIYers can apply it themselves.
If you don't want to paint your stucco,
consider hiring a contractor to “fog”
it. Fogging contractors use a special
spray gun that combines a colorant
with a thin cement slurry. Fogging is
much faster and cheaper than dashing
and lasts almost as long.
Myth 4: Duct cleaning is something that should be done regularly.
Most homes never need duct cleaning. There are some exceptions, however.
If you find mold, or rodent or insect nests in the ducts, eliminate the source
of the contamination or infiltration and have the ducts professionally
cleaned and disinfected. Expect to pay $350 to $1,000 for a thorough job that
includes scrubbing the ducts with special brushes. Avoid cheap duct cleaning
“specials” for $100 or less. Those low-cost services usually just blow
compressed air through the ducts. That gets the loose dust moving, but it
doesn't clean the mold or rodent or insect residues.
Myth 5: You should twist the wires before you put on the wire nut.
This advice comes right from the wire nut manufacturers. You do NOT have
to twist the wires before applying the wire nut. Most high-quality wire nuts
incorporate a square-cut spring-steel wire that literally bites into the copper
wires as you twist it on. The spring wire expands and contracts as the electrical
wires heat and cool, keeping them tightly bound. Continue twisting the
wire nut even after it “hits bottom.” Keep turning the nut until the wire insulation
is twisted 1-1/2 in. past the wire nut.
Note: Some lighting fixtures come with wire nuts that
don't have a spring-steel wire insert. Toss those
freebies and use only high-quality wire nuts
that have a wire insert.
Myth: 6 Leaving my computer on all the time makes it last longer.
This myth had some basis 20 years
ago when hard drives bit the dust
early from frequent on/off cycles.
It's no longer true. From a power-use
standpoint, leaving it on
ALWAYS uses more power than
shutting it off—even when it's in
“sleep” or “hibernate” mode.
Leaving it on also increases your
risk of catastrophic damage from
power surges—even with a surge
protector. So turn off the power
strip or unplug your computer
when you're not using it.
Misunderstanding 2: A dielectric union is all I need to protect my water heater from electrolysis/ galvanic action.
Anytime you join two dissimilar metals
(such as copper and galvanized pipe)
and add water, you create a flow of electrons
(electrolysis or galvanic action), that
eventually destroys the galvanized pipe. For
decades, plumbers have used an insulated dielectric union to prevent the damage.
A dielectric union does provide a small measure of protection. But it's not
enough to prevent the complete failure of the galvanized pipe (top photo). Lab tests
show that a 3-in. dielectric nipple reduces current flow by 85 percent
over the use of a dielectric union alone. So, next time you install a water
heater, install a dielectric nipple in addition to a dielectric union. Buy them at
a plumbing supply store or contact the manufacturer (perfectioncorp.com) to find a local distributor.
Huge Myth!: Setback thermostats don't save money.
Sure, the furnace has to pump out
a lot of BTUs to bring the house
back up to the daytime temp. But
studies have proven beyond a
doubt that the fuel savings during
the setback period far outweighs
the cost of raising the temp again.
Set the temperature back at least 5
degrees at night and 10 degrees
during the day (when no one is
home) and you'll save 20 percent
on your heating/cooling bill (raise
the temp by the same amount for
cooling in summer). That will
more than pay for the cost of the
setback thermostat in the first year.
Misunderstanding 3: Use hot water when you run the food disposer because it melts the grease to prevent clogs.
Sure, hot water melts the grease and
washes it down the drain. But once
the liquefied grease hits the pipes, it
cools, solidifies and eventually
builds up. The grease is a magnet for
food bits, lint and hair, eventually
clogging the pipe. And those clogs
are so far away you can't reach them
with a household snake. Calling in a
pro to clear the line will cost you
about $150. Cold water, on the other
hand, solidifies the grease before it
hits the sewer line, so it can float all
the way to the city sewer. Cold water
also cools the disposer motor, making
it last longer.
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Myth 7: Dethatching my lawn every year is good for it.
Power dethatching is never good for
your lawn. It may feel good to run a
5-hp monster power rake through
your lawn and see it throw out huge
piles of thatch. But if you've set the
machine low enough to reach the
thatch layer, you're really tearing up
healthy grass and stressing the
remaining grass. Thatch buildup is
the symptom of a serious problem,
not the cause of it (the cause is overfertilization,
too much water and
shallow roots). Instead of dethatching,
experts recommend solving the
underlying problem by cutting way
back on nitrogen fertilizer. Next, rent a
core aerator and run it across your
lawn. Then apply a product such as
Natural Guard Soil Activator. Buy it at
any garden center. The soil
activator literally composts the existing
thatch and turns it into useful nutrients
for your lawn. By aerating your lawn
and applying soil activator, you help
the grass establish a deep root structure—
the key to a healthy and thatch-free