If you want to find out whether you have something valuable in your attic, consulting an appraiser is a good first step.

Although Leila Dunbar, an appraiser on “Antiques Roadshow,” since 1996, can’t look at all of our items herself, she had plenty of tips for readers during our recent Home Front chat.

“Professional appraisers generally have years of training in report writing, methodology, market knowledge and connoisseurship in their expertise,” Dunbar said. “They also often are members of a professional organization that has set criteria of standards, qualifications and practices that are the industry standard.”

Because the market for different types of items (art, furniture or memorabilia) will vary, Dunbar suggests having items reappraised every five years or so.

“There is no guarantee that antiques will appreciate,” Dunbar said. “Every market has its own characteristics.”

Here are some things to know about the appraisal process.

Where you can find a qualified appraiser:

Appraisers Association of America

International Society of Appraisers

American Society of Appraisers

The organizations have databases on their Web sites that allow you to search by specialty (for instance, a rug specialist). “You want a qualified appraiser to handle your appraisal so that your items are professionally valued,” Dunbar said.

How much you’ll pay:

Appraisers usually charge by the hour, in the range of $75 to $500, with most falling between $150 and $300 an hour. If the appraiser has to travel and stay overnight, the client is usually responsible for those expenses.

Questions you should ask a prospective appraiser:

●How long have you been appraising?

●What is your background and level of experience in this area?

●What experience do you have in appraising these types of objects?

●What are some examples of your prior appraisals in this area?