Expert Awards

home improvement

Protecting Against Bad Products: Home Expert Awards

Every year, thousands of new products hit the home improvement market. They all promise better results, purporting to do the job faster, stronger, and cheaper. But not all new products are an improvement. In fact, some are downright failures. With an ever-increasing number of DIY projects being undertaken, it’s important for homeowners to be able to trust the products they’re using.

We’re always working with our experts to help keep consumers informed about all facets of the home improvement industry. Last week, we addressed the fragile issue of storm chasers and got tips on the best ways to avoid scams from shady repairmen. This week, we asked our experts to identify a few products that homeowners might be concerned about.

We’ve selected some of the best advice and posted it below. Stay tuned for our follow-up post which will help highlight resources that homeowners can use to investigate products for their efficacy and safety.

What are some Home Improvement Products to Watch Out For?

What products should homeowners be warned about?

Are there some companies that homeowners should avoid?

Are some companies to be trusted in full?

Are there any chemicals or materials on the market that should always be avoided?

Are online reviews the best place to check for honest reviews and information?

What are some of your favorite bad products?

Are there any websites that are particularly useful for checking out the safety and effectiveness of home improvement products?

Most Inspiring

"Two of the products I don’t like to see my clients buy from home improvement stores are drapery rods and laminate flooring. The flimsy drapery rods they carry are just not adequate. Often people will buy two sets of rods and double them one inside the other for strength, when for less expense they could order good quality rods from a designer or drapery shop.

There is also a very big difference in performance between discount laminate flooring and the name brands, such as Quickstep and Pergo. The best brands are manufactured in a way that makes them much more resistant to moisture. I have seen so many cheap flooring products delaminate, peel and fade after just a few years. It is definitely worthwhile to buy the best flooring your budget can afford, and unfortunately the details of what makes for quality flooring products are not available from the staff at a big box store. Also, their installation prices tend to be higher than necessary, offsetting any savings gained from using the cheap materials. See a flooring industry specialist retailer to be able to compare products and get the most for your budget." read more

Drapery and flooring are both projects that are very common for DIYers to tackle, so we loved that Kerry gave us great information on these types of products.

eLocal Expert Network

Most Creative

"Did you know that your insurance company hires professional adjusters to protect their interests? So should you.

I also see a problem with such installations as in floor heating with circulating liquids–it is one thing to have a leak in a wall, another in a concrete floor. And the efficiency compared to cost is debatable.

The same is true for heat pumps. In many climates–those with extreme temperatures–they just do not heat or cool in those extremes and you need backups. Most people would save the same amount of energy and more money by just turning off the AC or heating on temperate days and using energy efficient traditional heating and AC on extreme days." read more

Pablo highlights a few energy efficiency products that can end up costing homeowners more money than they initially expected.

eLocal Expert Network

Most Insightful

"I can assure you that most tankless water heaters bought at home centers and installed by homeowners for energy/cost savings have actually cost the homeowner more than they have saved. The cost of the correct installation is high in a retrofit situation. If endless water was the goal, it’s now being delivered and that costs more. The savings on the tankless units are rooted in zero standby heat loss, but the unit stills heats up with a 200,000 BTU burner instead of a 36,000 BTU burner. Because most homeowners do not have training, I consider most DIY installs unsafe as well.

If your motive is to get endless hot water, your average shower length will increase, meaning more water and more gas energy to heat it. Not to mention, hot water sandwiching (the extra 10-15 seconds it takes tankless heaters to deliver hot water). All these factors add up to water wasted and higher energy costs. " read more

Greg helps break down some of the hype surrounding tankless water heaters. Though they perform their job very well, they may not represent the type of benefit that homeowners count on.

eLocal Expert Network

Most Articulate

"A product that we do not like to use is ABS Drainage Pipe and Fittings. We do not see it that much but the fittings are hard to get and the wall thickness of the product is not one we like to work with. The color of the product is black and comes in all sizes.

We enjoy working with PVC Pipe and Fittings. The success we have had with this product is good. The only time I have seen this fail is in large condo buildings where it can crack and split if the building settles. This is not due to the product but from the way the building is installed." read more

While many DIYers wouldn’t tackle drainage projects, it’s good to be informed of what materials may not succeed. When comparing estimates from contractors, consumers can check on what materials are being proposed. As Steve points out in the case of ABS piping, homeowners may want to question why the contractor is using it.

eLocal Expert Network

Most Informative

"Some window salesmen unrealistically claim that just by replacing your windows, you can save 35% on your electric bill. I have never seen that come to fruition here in Southern California. In addition, some in the HVAC industry have been going door to door selling new air conditioner units without any regard to the cracks in the ductwork, the leaks and openings in the attics and walls allowing cold air to escape or hot air to come inside. On top of it, they don’t offer enough, if any, rebate dollars through Southern California Edison or the SoCal Gas Companies to help pay for the new units.

Instead, they will offer you the same size system that you already have, meeting the basic level of building code, and now you are stuck paying the bill without even knowing how this new system will affect your overall electric use.

These two industries, in my opinion, are not telling the whole story to their customers. In many Energy Upgrade California projects, by sealing the air leaks in the building shell and insulating the attic area, many houses didn’t need such a large air conditioning/heating unit, and they were actually able to replace the unit with a 1 or 2 ton smaller unit, saving them thousands of dollars on the new equipment. A stand alone air conditioning salesperson will never tell you that.

Finally, performing energy efficiency improvements on your home lowers your entire energy usage needs, and if you’re even thinking about putting solar panels on your roof, you may not need as many panels as you needed before, lowering your cost of installing solar. I don’t think all of the solar companies are telling you the whole story about “efficiency first”." read more

We liked David’s comment because it implies a larger overall message. When replacing a single component in a larger system, don’t expect the entire system to get better. For energy efficient applications, a review of the entire system is needed to produce the best results.

eLocal Expert Network