Q: I put three coats of an epoxy spay on ceramic tile in my house, and now I want to remove this paint without damaging the surface of the tile. Should I use a heat lamp or rotary sanding machine, or is there another method you would advise? R.B., Flushing, N.Y.
A: I think the simplest method is to use a semi-paste chemical paint remover. Some true epoxies will not soften with paint removers, but since you used an "epoxy spray" which came in a spray can, this is not a true, two-part epoxy finish. It should come off easily with paint remover. One of the water-wash, semi-paste types, will be easiest to use on vertical surfaces, and will permit rinsing clean with water.
Q: We installed a free standing fireplace similar to the ones you described in one of your recent columns. Because of our house layout we could not run the chimney straight up through the room above to get through the roof. Instead, the chimney runs horizontally for about 10 feet, out through the wall of the house, then straight up to the required height beyond the roof. This has never worked properly. We get a house full of smoke every time we light a fire. We had a rotating vance installed at the top of the chimney, but this doesn't help. Do you have any suggestions? Dr. A.N., Brooklyn, N.Y.
A: You will always have a problem getting a proper draft for the fire with that long horizontal run of smokepipe. If you cannot run straight up, at least run off at an upward angle - special angled fittings are sold for this purpose. Also, try to move the fireplace closer to the wall so that the angled section will not be so long. Further, it will help if the chimney starts out vertically for a little distance then slopes off (upward) to the outside wall.
Q: My ranch home has a gas-fired hot water heating system. It consists of a single pipe that runs around the basement ceiling to feed each of the radiators upstairs. Even though this pipe gets very warm to the touch when the heat is on, the basement always feel cold. Could some sort of fins be put on this pipe to make it act like a raditor? P.J.D., Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y.
A: Putting metal fins on this pipe would convert it to a type of convector radiator that radiates heat to the basement but there are two things you must consider. First, since the pipes are up near the ceiling, and heat rises, this would be a very inefficient means of heating. Second, by radiating some of the heat out of this man supply pipe you may be lowering the efficiency of the system and may be robbing heat from the radiators above. A far better solution would be to add a few separate radiators near the basement floor - assuming the boiler has enough extra capacity to supply them. Fither way, I think you should call a heating contractor in to diagnose your problem and offer a suggestion.
Q: I have a rustic lodge with wood siding on which the former owner used a well-known brand of creosote-base shingle stain. I read your recent column about using products containing "penta" for preserving wood against rot, and since I am planning to restain the outside with the same kind of stain, I wonder if it would be advisable to add some of this "penta" to the stain?
A: Creosote is an excellent wood preservative by itself so a creosote-base stain such as you describe should need no further preservative added.