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Asphalt sealer more than cosmetic in hot climates

(ran HS, HP editions)

Comment: Peter Hotton's opinion that driveway sealers are mostly cosmetic received this reaction from Mark McLeod, president of SealMaster/Tampa:

"I must say, your explanation on driveway sealers. . . has caused quite a stir among homeowners and professional asphalt maintenance contractors.

"As a manufacturer of SealMaster pavement sealers along with 17 other SealMaster franchises nationwide, we have built our business educating pavement maintenance contractors and property owners on the benefits of seal coating asphalt pavements.

"Seal coating replenishes the vital oils that are lost through oxidation from the elements (sun, water and salt). Sealing in these vital oils will double the life of the asphalt."

Hotton's reply: You have a point about sealing asphalt to hold in the oils that could be dissipated quickly by sun, water and other kinds of weather. This applies particularly to Southern climates, where the sun (a major damager of asphalt) is hotter than in the North, and hotter for longer periods.

Z-Brick removal

Question: I recently purchased a home with Z-Brick on one of the kitchen walls. I'd like to remove the Z-Brick and wallpaper the entire kitchen. Can you recommend a product that is fast, easy and safe for removing Z-Brick?

Answer: For those who are not familiar with it, Z-Brick is a molded ceramic-type material measuring about ]-inch thick. It is applied with a mastic to an interior wall to give it the appearance of a real brick wall.

Removing the Z-Brick without damaging the surface behind it is virtually impossible. Knocking the Z-Brick off the wall with a hammer is hazardous because pieces of Z-Brick will fly all over.

The fastest, most economical way to remove the Z-Brick is the most radical. That is, take the wallboard with the Z-Brick on it off the wall, ripping it back to the studs, then re-cover the wall with new gypsum board. This sounds harder and more radical than it is.

Be careful not to damage any wires that might be in the wall cavity. Also, be sure to wear eye protection and a respirator or dust mask during the job.

Although removing the Z-Brick is somewhat messy, the job should go relatively quickly. Since only one wall has Z-Brick, cover the wall and remove the mess all in a half-day's work.

Any other removal method will not give the wall the smooth surface necessary for wallpapering.

Ice forming in refrigerator

Question: Our 1973 automatic frostless refrigerator-freezer forms ice in the bottom. What do you suppose is wrong?

Answer: First, check that the ice does melt when your unit is in its automatic-defrost cycle. Open the door and see if water runs down the tube at the back.

Then inspect to be sure that the water passages from the freezer section are clear. Remove any food or packaging material that may be obstructing the passages.

Remove the cover over the defroster mechanism and check for a blocked hose. You can run a flexible wire carefully into the tube to help remove any obstructions. While the cover is opened, check the defrost-unit action by advancing the defrost timer. Rotate the dial clockwise.

The fact that your refrigerator runs frequently could indicate that fan, coils and compressor need cleaning. You may also have a low Freon level. Check this and add Freon if the level is too low.

Maximum wattage caution

Question: What is the reason for the warning about using specific maximum wattage (such as 60-watt) bulbs in lamps and fixtures?

Answer: The reason for such warnings is to minimize the chance of heat buildup and fire that can result if you use a higher wattage bulb in that fixture.

Recessed and flush-mounted ceiling light fixtures are especially at risk because there is no circulation around the fixture to cool the bulb. Some installations use a cover that traps heat from the bulb. Additionally, the bulb itself lies flat against the metal base, which in many cases is attached directly to acoustic tile.

Restore cedar smell

Question: I moved into a house with a cedar-lined closet 40 years old, but it has no cedar aroma. How can I get it to smell good again?

Answer: Sand it to reveal fresh wood, and aroma. Sand by hand or use power and do not finish it in any way. Over the years, dirt filled the pores of the cedar and slowed down, then stopped, the aroma. Washing will not do it. Once you sand, you should have aroma for another 10 to 25 years. Use medium coarse sandpaper; fine sanding might fill the pores again.

Slippery when wet

Question: We have a concrete patio that is slippery when wet. Is there a way to make the surface concrete safer, such as roughening the surface?

Answer: Some tool-rental agencies rent a special walk-behind tool that will scarify or roughen the surface of concrete, but the roughened surface is not very attractive and the tool is tricky to use.

The simplest and best solution might be to coat the concrete with a special textured paint. Check with a paint store on availability.

You can also buy a regular porch-and-floor paint suitable for exterior concrete and give it a nonslip texture by adding special grit or sand available at many paint stores.

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