5 Things Not to Buy at Home Improvement Stores

Written by Juan Jimenez of A House on a Rock Home Inspections
Updated March 8, 2014
plumbing pipe beneath kitchen sink
Are you a home handyman tackling a DIY project? A properly installed plumbing trap (like this one, beneath a kitchen sink with a garbage disposal) is crucial to keeping sewer gases from entering your home. Never use flexible, accordion-like corrugated plumbing pipe from the home improvement stores to create a trap; it’s not safe.
Photo by Summer Galyan

When you want to tackle a home repair, you head to your local DIY store. But beware: they sell some things professionals would never use.

Get quotes from up to 3 pros!
Enter a zip below and get matched to top-rated pros near you.

Home improvement stores are great because they allow even the most inexperienced of homeowners to tackle their own DIY projects. Likewise, home improvement stores can be horrible … for the same reason. 

Home inspectors are taught that water and moisture are the biggest enemy to homes. Experienced home inspectors know this isn't true; homeowners are the No. 1 enemy to their homes. Inspection after inspection, we find defects that are the result of the homeowner attempting a do-it-yourself repair. 

Some of the blame can be shifted to the home improvement stores for selling inappropriate materials to homeowners. Here are five things you need to stop buying from your local home improvement or hardware store right now.

1. Double keyed deadbolt locks: a DIY no-no

This type of deadbolt lock is advertised as offering added security. But because you must have a key to unlock the door to exit, they are a real safety hazard in an emergency.

We haven't thought of any practical use for these double-keyed deadbolt locks, also known as double cylinder deadbolts. Ask a locksmith about other ways to protect to your family, while keeping them safe.

2. Screened dryer vents: not a home improvement

It worries us that these types of dryer vents are still being sold. Lint is flammable, and when a screen is installed on the dryer vent, it creates a hazard.

Building codes are clear on the issue, and no screens are allowed on the dryer vent termination. If you have one on your home, have a qualified contractor replace it immediately.

3. Plastic dryer vents: no home handyman should install them

Dryer vent safety is not something we take lightly. The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that over 15,000 dryer fires are started every year. A plastic dryer vent will quickly melt and allow the flame to spread. 

Although metal dryer vents can't stop the fire from spreading, they do allow more time to detect, vacate the home and have the fire extinguished.

Plastic dryer vents serve no purpose in a home. Some argue they are applicable for bathroom vents or other mechanical ventilation systems. We believe you are better off spending the extra money for more durable materials.

splash block outside home
Most experts recommend dispersing water 4 to 8 feet away from the foundation to protect it. Splash blocks don't do the job, says Jimenez. (Photo courtesy of A House on a Rock Home Inspections)

4. Splash blocks: an ill-advised do-it-yourself solution

These plastic decorative items are advertised as being able to disperse water at the bottom of the downspout to limit erosion and protect your foundation. Most experts recommend dispersing water four to eight feet away from the foundation to protect it. Some argue that 10 feet is the bare minimum. 

Either way, this two-foot length of molded plastic is not going to do the job. Personally, I recommend dry wells or other means of dispersing the water. A qualified contractor can offer different methods and costs. Anything is better than a few splash blocks.

5. Corrugated plumbing: don’t use this in DIY projects

If you're a home handyman dealing with a tough plumbing problem, you may be tempted to purchase some flexible, corrugated, accordion-like plumbing materials. Don't do it. 

This type of plumbing is not approved for your home's drainage system. In fact, we are not sure where you would actually install this type of drain material. To make matters worse, most homeowners install it in a way that does not create a proper trap. 

Traps prevent sewer gases from entering your home, so installing this type of plumbing can be a real safety concern. Call a plumber who can do it correctly.

Angi Experts Icon

About this Experts Contributor: Juan Jimenez is the owner of A House on a Rock Home Inspections, providing home inspection services in Richmond, Virginia. He is a regular contributor to the Angie's List Experts Contributor Program. Follow this contributor on Twitter.

As of October 2, 2015, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.