Home Fix-up

Q Our home has a brick patio which doesn't get much sun. During the winter months the bricks are covered with moss, which dries out during the heat of summer. I've tried removing the moss with muriatic acid, but with little success. Any ideas? Roy Sydney Dunton

Los Gatos, Calif.

A representative of the Masonry Promotion Trust (MPT) says that there really is not much you can do about the problem. Sealers would cap the surface, of course, but as the ground water passes up through the brick, pressure would build at the surface and cause the brick to spall.

The MPT suggests a scrubdown with a stiff broom and light acid solution, but you can expect the moss to grow right back because of the moisture.

In earlier days, people used to put a little kerosene in water and then scrub the brick. The kerosene would kill the moss, but you would have to be careful not to use too much because it would make the bricks too slippery.

The only long-term solution may be to set the brick over a concrete slab which, in turn, is set over a 2-inch-deep sand fill. Under the sand should be a plastic sheet. This will stop the moisture from wicking up through the brick.

I'm faced with the same problem in my house. We may both have to wait for the summer sunshine to work its magic.

Q Some time ago there was an article about a simple, inexpensive, solar-heating unit for the do-it-yourselfer. What is the name of the manufacturer? I'm told that the installation of such a unit can lead to an increase in the property tax in some areas. Comments?

E. S. Capon

Sandy Springs, Md.

The story to which you refer also included information which could aid you in determining what type of system might be best in your specific situation. You can call the California solar hot line at 1-800-952-5670. Write as well to the National Solar Information Center, PO Box 1607, Rockville, Md. 20850.

Among other agencies are the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20401; Department of Housing and Urban Development, 451 Seventh Street, SW, Washington, D.C. 20410, as well as the Solar Energy Association, PO Box 1284, Alamosa, Colo. 81101.

Only buy the products from a proven company which will be around to service the equipment. As for taxation, that varies widely from area to area and should be looked into at both the state and the local level. Q My house, built in 1895, has a galvanized metal roof which has begun to rust and is in need of repainting. Would you advise me of the preparation and repainting procedures as well as the product to use?

Thomas E. Moran

Alexandria, Va.

I'm surprised there is anything left to paint after some 90 years. A good sandingor wire-brushing is essential in order to remove any loose or chalking paint and rust scales. I have used Rust-O-Leum brand paint, which has both a primer and a top coat. Paint stores which carry brand-name paints will also have specifications which list the proper products for specific applications. To the real estate editor:

A suggestion to Robert A. Bliss of Janesville, Wis., in regard to his double-hung windows with aluminum ways: Add paint to the ways to add friction. Also, he should check for the presence of support springs within the ways, which can come uncovered and lose their effect.

David F. Bowman

Williamstown, Mass.

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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