Risk: The range hood sucks cooking fumes up and out of the kitchen. As grease splatters, it builds up and clogs the filter in the underside of the hood, keeping the fan from working as it should. This could cause your smoke alarm to go off, attract fruit flies, and leave potentially harmful pollutants from your gas or electric range lingering in the air. And if you have to replace the motor, it will cost around $200.

Even if you have a number of odd jobs for which you don’t expect to obtain fixed-price quotes, you might be surprised if you try. Our mystery shoppers called a dozen handyperson services and asked each to quote a fixed price for a list of tasks: replacing a chandelier with a customer-supplied new one; replacing the washers in a kitchen faucet; replacing a toilet seat; weather-stripping two doors; replacing the hinges on four cabinet doors; and re-caulking a bathtub. Of the 12 companies contacted—

This summer, they decided to paint the frames black, which cost $900. Mr. Sievers, a special-education teacher, and his wife, a doctor, could have done the work themselves, a solution that do-it-yourself enthusiasts would suggest. But the doors face the street, and the couple wanted the end result to look polished. “My dad and my uncle used to always do home repairs and everything used to come out uneven or crooked,” Mr. Sievers said. So he paid a professional.
If you can see light creeping beneath exterior doors, air is also escaping. Grab a few packages of self-adhesive rubber foam weatherstripping and go to town, sealing any and all doors that lead outside. Weatherstripping already installed but you’re still suffering from a high gas bill? It might be time to replace the strips installed by the previous owners. Check out this handy tutorial on installing weatherstripping.
×