Home fix-up

Q I've asked that the manufacturer of an ``alternative to rain gutters'' system provide me with the names and addresses of people who have used its product in order that I may see it installed on a house. So far I have received brochures, but no addresses. Have you had any experience with the system? Do you feel it is a good replacement for gutters and downspouts? Will the water runoff damage the plantings around the house? Helen C. Perry Downers Grove, Ill. The Thermar Weather Foil, to which you refer, is composed of several metal louvers which are attached to the eaves of a roof with a bracket. The system seems to be designed to disperse the sheet-flow effect of roof water runoff by breaking it into a less-concentrated flow. The effect could be a lessening of damage to the ground at the drip line.

This would not, however, take the place of a gutter/downspout system where it is necessary to channel the roof-water runoff to some particular point because of site-drainage problems.

Plantings can be damaged by standing water, erosion, or concentrated flows on tender shoots and blossoms. My best advice is to take a common-sense approach to planting and drainage problems. Q We have a mildew problem on the east side of our house and in the southeast-corner bedroom. The rug, bottoms of the drapes, and even the backs of the furniture are affected. There is also a musty odor at all the foundation openings except the one in the west. If improving the ventilation will help, what do we look for? Jane S. Roberts Eureka, Calif.

Your area has a rather damp climate, so that special measures may have to be taken to remedy the problem. Make sure you have vents on all four sides of the house for good air flow. Often shrubs and plants are allowed to grow and block the vents.

The Uniform Building Code requires a minimum of one square foot of vent area for each 150 square feet of under-floor area, with the vents situated as close to the corners as practical. Mechanical ventilation could be by means of a squirrel-cage blower if cutting holes is impractical. Check to see that the ground is dry under the floor area. A plumbing leak or poor drainage could be the culprit. Q Our church plans to replace its two old furnaces with new ones. The auditorium is about 44 by 62 feet. It has a 17-foot ceiling insulated with R-31 batts, and the temperature gets down to about 40 degrees F. during the winter months. We have two prices which are $700 apart. One is for a Lennox 81,000-Btu unit with a 10-year guarantee. The other is for a Day & Night 106,000-Btu unit with a 15-year guarantee. What would you do? Dean Ellis Santa Rosa, Calif.

The rule of thumb for basing your needs is 30 Btu per square foot; therefore, you need a heating unit with about 82,000 Btu for the auditorium.

Bearing in mind that the output of the furnaces is about 80 percent efficient, the two Lennox units would do the job nicely at 129,000 Btu. The Lennox is also a quieter unit, if that is a consideration.

If the heaters are serving more than just the auditorium, you will want to reevaluate these figures.

If you have a question about designing, improving, or maintaining your home, 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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