Fix it: Home & Garden

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From the February 2014 edition
Window and door trim

Symptoms: There are cracks in or around the exterior trim, and trim may be soft, distorted or have fungus growth. Look for dark stains in the corners as well as leaking or discoloration.

Diagnosis: If there’s any rotting, you’ll need to replace the affected areas. Sometimes it’s just a small spot around the window or door, but if left untreated, mold could spread through the structure of the house, says Andrew Hale, co-owner of The Hale Construction Co.

Cost: Replacing trim around a window or door could cost $750 to $1,000, while the extreme case of needing all new siding and structural timbers can cost up to $40,000.

Water supply lines

Symptoms: The pipe to a toilet, washer, sink, etc. has a visible leak. If the pipe is inside the wall, there may be a puddle or discoloration on the wall.

Diagnosis: A plumber needs to replace the pipe, and you should begin drying the area as soon as possible so mold doesn’t form. If there’s a large amount of water, you may need to have it extracted, says PuroClean owner Rick Gutridge.

Cost: A new pipe costs $3 to $5, while extensive water mediation can cost $900 to $8,000.

Furnace

Symptoms: You hear a humming sound coming from the furnace, it’s very hot and it eventually shuts off altogether.

Diagnosis: You may need to replace the blower motor. The furnace is still producing heat, but it’s not getting blown out. So it will eventually overheat and shut off as a safety mechanism, says Terese Kelley, co-owner of Total Comfort Heating and Cooling Inc.

Cost: Depending on the type of furnace, blower motors can cost $150 to $500, and installation can add another $120 or so.

Chimney

Symptoms: There’s dense, dark smoke, and you hear a cracking sound and smell a fire when you don’t have one lit in the fireplace. In the case of a slow-burning chimney fire, you may not notice until it has burned itself out.

Diagnosis: Residue from burning fires (especially if unseasoned wood is used), or creosote, builds up over time and is flammable. At worst, it can catch fire in your chimney and spread to the house, says Debbie Wiedwald, owner of Blackburn’s Chimney Sweeps. As soon as you detect a potential chimney fire, call a professional.

Cost: If the chimney wasn’t damaged, a cleaning and inspection costs about $200, while recoating or replacing damaged flue tiles can cost from $2,000 to $8,000.

Faucets

Symptoms: Water is leaking from a sink faucet when it’s turned off.

Diagnosis: Many times, the cartridge, which is the mechanical component of the faucet, needs to be replaced. Unless you have plumbing experience, Matt Thompson, owner of Doc Thompson Plumbing Services, recommends contacting a plumber to replace it.

Cost: Cartridges cost $5 to $75 depending on the type of faucet, and getting it replaced costs about $100 to $200 including the part.

Spigots

Symptoms: Look for water leaking around the spigot. If you turn on the hose, water will spray everywhere, begin leaking or not come out at all.

Diagnosis: In the winter, it’s important to turn off the water valve connected to the spigot so the water doesn’t freeze and then disconnect the hose, Thompson says. The turn-off is typically inside the house.

Cost: If the spigot is damaged and needs to be replaced, it can cost $150 to $200 (parts included).

Sump pump

Symptoms: Basement flooding after heavy rainfall

Diagnosis: If a storm knocks out your power and you don’t have a battery-operated or backup sump pump, it likely shut off with the electricity, and water coming into the foundation of the home isn’t getting pumped out, Gutridge says. It’s imperative to start drying the area as soon as possible to prevent mold.

Cost: A new (or backup) sump pump costs about $150 to $200, and professional water remediation can cost $900 to $8,000.