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Avoid Costly Repairs to Expensive Household Items

Proper care and maintenance will extend the lives of household items

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    Don't Welcome Termites

    En español | Putting wood mulch directly against the foundation of a house invites termites to tunnel their way inside, as does stacking firewood against the house or in the crawl space. The average cost to repair termite damage is $2,000 to $3,000.

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    Granite Countertop Care

    Using products like Windex or any ammonia- or acidic-based cleaner on expensive granite countertops can degrade the sealer and make the stone vulnerable to staining. Instead, use warm water, dish soap and isopropyl alcohol.

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    Floor Care

    Extend the lifespan of carpeting and other floor coverings by periodically rearranging the furniture in each room to disperse the wear and tear of high-traffic areas and staining. Also, when it comes to cleaning your hardwood floors, don't use a steam mop.

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    Garbage 'Disposal' Isn't a 'Dispose–ALL'

    Dumping big quantities of flour, rice or potato peels down the disposal can lead to plumbing clogs. Disposable bonus tip: Not running the cold water when you use the disposal can burn out the motor.

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    Washer Overload

    Overloading the washer with too much laundry can cause the agitator to break or the rotating drum to get out of alignment. And using too much detergent can lead to a foamy overflow, which can damage the machine and anything else in the area.

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    Dollars Down the Drain

    Dumping grease down the drain will lead to clogs, as will other large and slow-to-dissolve items. Where I live in Maryland — the Crab State — plumbers report that crab shells are a common source of blockages. And if you use liquid drain cleaner, use only the amount recommended by the manufacturer. Too much can damage plumbing pipes and fixtures.

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    Protect Your Electronics

    Plugging your gadgets directly into the wall without a surge protector can destroy them in an instant if there is a power surge. Contrary to popular belief, power surges don't happen just during thunderstorms. Something as simple as turning on a high-voltage appliance (such as a hair dryer) on the same circuit as the electronic item can cause a surge.

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    Power-Wash With Caution

    If you get carried away with high-pressure power washers and overuse them or use too much pressure, they can damage decks, siding and even bricks set in mortar.

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