Home inspector John Trostle and general contractor and designer Samantha Strong joined The Daily Circuit Friday, March 8, to answer questions and offer ideas for home-repair and maintenance projects. Here are five tips that emerged from that conversation.
Test your basement for radon. If you use your basement often, "you definitely want to get it tested" for presence of the radioactive gas, said Trostle. According to the EPA, radon causes 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year. An inexpensive test kit is available from the big-box home and hardware stores.
If you rake your roof, be VERY careful. People use roof rakes to remove snow and cut down on ice buildup, but they risk damaging their roof tiles. Ice dams are likely to reflect an insulation problem; it's better to look for the source of the trouble than to continually scrape the roof. Try leaving a thin coating of snow instead of going all the way down to the tiles.
Have your chimney cleaned and inspected. If you are getting ready to sell your home, it's a good idea to know ahead of time whether the chimney needs major repair. If your chimney has a clay liner, said Trostle, "I can tell you right now, without inspecting it, it's cracked."
Get an energy audit. Even if your house is relatively new, it's wise to have a clear picture of where heat may be escaping. Some neighborhoods offer programs that reimburse homeowners for the cost of an audit. If the audit reveals problem areas, you may need better insulation.
Make sure window casings are well sealed. A window may have double or triple panes of glass, but even a new window won't hold in heat if it's improperly sealed. Caulking is one do-it-yourself solution.
LEARN MORE ABOUT SPRING HOME PROJECTS:
Spring home maintenance checklist. Offers tips for projects ranging from energy upgrades to concrete repair. (Kiplinger)
Seven spring home repairs that save you money. A shorter list of essential maintenance checks. (Wall Street Journal)
Spring home repair tips. A guide to getting fixed up without being ripped off. (Better Business Bureau.)
Spring home repairs: A guide. From the Early Show, a guided demonstration. (Especially helpful if your gutters appear to be full of fresh spinach.) (CBS News)
10 home-maintenance tips for spring. Another list of items to check each spring. (HGTV)
Finally, here's a worthwhile video on home maintenance that features Angie Hicks, the founder of Angie's List. (CNBC)