Raising the heat on a cold-comfort condo; 'vaporizing' those pests in

Q. Our oceanfront vacation condo has an uninsulated concrete floor over an unheated garage. It gets very cold and the heat pump can't seem to cope. - R.A., Havre de Grace, Md.

A. Compare the cost of insulating the floor with the cost of managing heat differently, says Howard Clark, a construction supervisor. You could do a bit of both.

If you were living in the space constantly, and assuming you insulated the garage ceiling, the cement would eventually absorb enough heat to help keep the space warm. But for weekend use, adding insulation on the inner surfaces is probably best.

Preheat the space before you arrive. Put your heating system on a programmable seven-day thermostat. Then start the system warming at least 24 hours before you arrive, and you will not have to overheat the space to compensate. Then, by letting the thermostat step back the heat after the space has warmed, and before you leave, you'll find that neither you nor your heating bills will suffer.

Unless you get the condo very well insulated, never turn the heat off. Your energy provider can advise you on a cost-effective setback temperature for your region.

Q. Is steam or dry cleaning better for removing dust and pollens from carpets? - J.B., Crescent City, Calif.

A. A steam-vapor machine is best, says Bill McTighe, president of Home Environmental in Lexington, Mass. Steam-vapor machines are not to be confused with steam cleaners. Vapor machines heat water to 260 degrees F. When used on a carpet, virtually all pests, dust, and pollens are eliminated. Most people rent these machines as they are expensive to purchase.

Readers: Pose your questions and we'll seek out experts on home repairs, gardens, food, and family legal issues. Send queries to the Homefront Editor, The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115 or e-mail home@csps.com

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