Not all home improvement projects are fit for DIYers. Use this list to see which jobs should be left for the pros.
By Bob ParksMore in Home Improvement
Prevent Attic Weatherproofing Snafus
Some attic insulation and air sealing jobs are best left to the pros. If your house has frequent ice dams or if you find condensation buildup at the top of the house, a contractor can design a system to insulate the main floors and vent the attic. Homes with a great deal of recessed lighting may need the assistance of a pro to insulate without creating a fire hazard.
Bring More Sunlight Into Your Home
Installing skylights and newfangled light pipes instantly bathes your interiors with natural light, saving you money on electricity bills. And there are new glass coatings that prevent rugs and furniture from fading. But unskilled homeowners shouldn't dabble with the tricky roofing and structural issues involved in installing these fixtures. Contractors typically charge from $1,000 per skylight, and guarantee their work against leaks and air gaps.
Change Your Water Heater
Heating household water accounts for more than 15 percent of the energy costs for a typical family. You can lower your utility bills by as much as half by choosing tankless on-demand units and heaters that work on propane or natural gas. But while replacing a traditional electric storage heater may be within the abilities of a weekend warrior, changing to a whole new water heating system requires a professional.
Seal Your Ducts
For homeowners with forced air heating and cooling systems, there are a few options for sealing up leaky ducts. DIYers can reduce leakages by up to 30 percent using mastic caulking, mechanical fasteners or special tape. But the most effective way to fix leaky ducts is a unique service called Aeroseal (www.aeroseal.com), which sprays an adhesive coating on the interior of all your passages, making areas you can't reach 90 percent airtight. Aeroseal contractors are nationwide and costs for a typical house range from $500 to $900.
Add a Sun Room
Enjoy the sun's heat for free with "passive solar" energy construction. Passive refers to energy balancing techniques used in the placement of windows, walls, floor and roofs in relation to the exterior of the house and its surroundings. Unfortunately, many existing homes aren't positioned correctly to harvest solar rays, and passive solar energy can cause a home to get too hot. The solution is to build a sun room or garden greenhouse connected to the home, which can circulate warm air on sunny days. At $12,000 to $70,000, sunrooms are among the least expensive additions to build.