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Excessive cleaner? 4 ways you're ruining your home — and what to do about it

You might be doing your house more harm than good when it comes to re-painting, over-insulating and excessive cleaning.
/ Source: TODAY

Yes, you can kill your home with kindness. You might be doing your house more harm than good when it comes to re-painting, over-insulating and excessive cleaning. Kevin O’Conner, host of “This Old House,” stopped by Studio 1A with four ways to not be your own home wrecker.

Serial repainting

That cracked coating that blankets your exterior is nothing a little more paint can't remedy, right? Think again. Excessive paint is detrimental, especially on an older house, which may have layers of thicker oil- based paint that becomes brittle with age. Regularly adding more may restrict the old paint's ability to flex with temperature and humidity changes, leading to "alligatoring," or thick, cracked, peeling paint.

Here's what to do instead:

Keep a paint job looking great with annual touch-ups in spring or summer. Start with a careful powerwashing, then scrape and sand areas that need attention, typically around windows and doors, where water accumulates. Buy 100-percent acrylic-resin exterior paint for superior adhesion.

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Older houses often have too little insulation and it can be cold especially this time of year. Proper insulation is a good thing — but some homeowners tend to over-insulate. This becomes a bad thing as soffit vents along the eaves become blocked and can impede circulation, allowing moisture to accumulate on roof sheathing and upping the potential for attic mold. It can also lead to ice dams in winter and the roof leaks that come with them.

Here's what to do instead:

Before adding insulation, seal air leaks between the house and the attic. Apply canned spray foam, airtight tape, or firestop sealant to close off gaps around wires and plumbing. Use metal flashing and nonflammable insulation, such as rock wool, to close off gaps around chimneys. Then add at least enough insulation to meet your area's energy codes, installing plastic or cardboard baffles along eaves to keep insulation from blocking vents.

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Spritzing mirrors

Don't you love that streak free beautiful gleaming mirror after you spritz it? Well, while store-bought spray will make your looking glass sparkle, just a drop of the liquid running around the mirror's edge can cause the reflective backing to lift or craze. The resulting "black edge" is a common outcome of using ammonia or vinegar based cleaners.

Here's what to do instead:

A little slower but warm water with a soft, lint-free cloth will go a long way toward getting your mirrors clean. Wet and wring out a microfiber sheet, wipe the mirror, and then quickly swipe it with a dry cloth. If gooey or greasy marks call for something stronger, spray commercial glass cleaner directly onto a dry cloth, not the glass, and avoid the mirror's rim when wiping.

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Coddling counters with too much sealer

You want to give your new kitchen's stone work surfaces love and a layer of stain protection, but slathering on multiple coats of sealant will only make them look streaky and dull. And believe it or not, some countertops last better if you don't use a sealant at all.

Here's what to do instead:

Test to see if the stone is porous. If a small puddle of water leaves no stain after 30 minutes, the stone can be left bare. If the water leaves a dark mark, it should be treated. Apply sealer in a single, spare layer, or as the manufacturer's label recommends. Let it penetrate for a few minutes, then use a clean, dry cloth to wipe away the excess and gently buff. You'll know it's time to reseal when the countertop fails the water test.

This article was originally published Feb. 25, 2016.