ASK AN ARCHITECT

Q We are having problems with efflorescence on the bricks on our church chimney, and pieces are splitting off the face. The remainder of the building is fine. What is the cause and cure of the problem? Richard V. Nielsen

East Williston, N.Y.

The white efflorescence on the brick near the top of the chimney indicates that moisture is getting into the interior of the brick.

When this moisture freezes, it expands, acting like a wedge to spall off the outer surface of the brick.

The top of the chimney is more vulnerable as periodic heating and cooling, plus the melting of snow, increases its ability to absorb moisture. When the heater is turned down, the moisture in the top of the chimney refreezes.

After first washing and brushing the brick with muriatic acid, then allowing it to thoroughly dry, apply a clear penetrating sealer which contains dissolved resins.

Three products which should be locally available are Rain Gard HP, Sinak, and Chemstop. Q The severe freeze and alternating weak sunshine of the past winter filled our gutters and downspouts with gigantic ice deposits which caused water to pour in through two windows. Looking ahead to another winter, I wonder if homes need to have gutters and downspouts. But where we don't have them, there are other leakage problems.

LaVerne M. Busek

Cleveland, Ohio

The purpose of gutters is to divert concentrated water flow from over an entrance walkway, or to keep ground erosion from occurring under the roof drip line. It sounds to me as if eliminating all but the most necessary gutters would be very wise.

You can, of course, install a form of resistance heating, such as electric heating wires, around the edge of the roof which will prevent ice from forming in the gutters.

Erosion can be stopped by the correct placement of shrubs, rocks, or concrete walkways. I have seen downspouts replaced by chains which are secured at the ground by a concrete splashblock, a system which is very effective.

It also sounds as though the windows may not be sufficiently tight. You should check them out.

To the real estate editor:

A question in a recent column had to do with removing gummed backing on storm window frames.

Carter's thinner (used with rubber cement), found in a stationery store, removes gummed back left on objects, such as jar lids, glass jars, paper boxes, and the like. It works.

A reader

If you have a question about designing, improving, or maintaining your home, school, church, or place of business, send it to the Real Estate Editor, The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway Street, Boston, Mass. 02115. Richard A. Kent is a practicing architect and general contractor in southern California.

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