Home fix-up

Q I live in an apartment under a sloped roof which is in need of re-roofing. The building already has two roofs. I'm concerned about the danger of adding more weight as the plaster ceiling even now is showing signs of cracking. The house is 45 years old. What do you say? Mrs. S. Pansen Bronx, N.Y. It is hard for me to give an informed answer without knowing the rafter sizes, their spacing, their span measured horizontally, the roof pitch (inches of rise for each horizontal 12 inches), and the materials now being supported, such as plaster, asphalt shingles, etc.

A local contractor, structural engineer, or architect with knowledge of local building codes could give you a quick answer if you give him those facts.

If the space was intended only as an attic, it probably wasn't designed for the plaster ceiling now in place. Structural members are designed to take dead loads, such as roofing, plus live loads, such as snow and wind. Engineers and architects can check tables which provide these figures when in the process of design.

Q I have poured a six-inch-thick concrete slab floor over soil in the sunroom of my home. I plan to place either a slate or terra-cotta tile flooring over the concrete. What I'd like to know is how long to let the slab cure before laying the floor. Norval B. Lewis Pittsfield, Maine

Four weeks is the recommended time because most of the moisture is out of the slab by this time. Remember that your thin-set mix or cement setting bed also has moisture which is passed out through the tile and the grout joints.

The concrete curing process is primarily a chemical reaction where the combining of the materials causes heat which expels the moisture, rather than a drying process.

Q The plaster walls and ceilings of my recently bought 1909 house are cracking. I live near two railroad tracks and the trains shake the house constantly. I would like a permanent way to repair the plaster. Also, the house seems to cool down in winter faster than other houses in the area. I suspect the large windows and insufficent insulation, if any, contribute to the cool-down. Any ideas? Kathleen Burnett Dalton, Ga.

If you have the funds to approach the job properly, I suggest you strip off the old wood lath and plaster, insulate between the studs and ceiling joists, and apply new dry wall, using screws to fasten the board. The trains could, of course, vibrate the nails out slightly.

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.

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