DEAR MR. MELTZER: We have had a $40,000 fire policy on our house for many years. We had a fire two months ago and our beautiful house was completely demolished. Believe it or not, we cannot collect!

We have been in contact with the insurance adjustor, and he says the house has a maximum value of $30,000. Therefore, that's all they intend to pay us. In view of the fact that we paid premiums on a $40,000 policy all this time, don't you think we are entitled to collect $40,000?

ANSWER: In most states, an insured can collect only for the actual financial loss, in spite of the amount of the fire policy. If the company's estimate of your financial loss is $30,000, and you think your loss was more, you must prove it to them.

However, in a few states there are valued-policy laws. Under these circumstances, this means that the insured can usually collect the entire amount of the policy.

DEAR MR. MELTZER: We have some lovely old rugs that have been in my husband's family for many years. Lovely though they still are, they are beginning to curl at the corners.

This isn't very attractive, nor is it safe. We're afraid someone may fall and hurt himself. What's more, this curling detracts from the beauty fo the rugs.

Is there any suggestion you might have for overcoming this?

ANSWER: Rugs must be sized on the back to prevent the corners and ends from curling up.

To resize your rugs, turn them upside down and tack the ends and corners down. You may then brush with a thin coat of white shellac, or you could spray the back with a solution of one-half pound of blue chips in two quarts of water.

Allow the backs of the rugs to dry thoroughly. This could take as long as two days. When you turn them over, they will lie flat.

DEAR MR MELTZER: My house is 30 years old and I paid $13,000 for it when I bought it. All the houses in my immediate neighborhood are about the same.

My wife and I plan to move to Florida, and so we would like to sell the house. It's in excellent condition. All it really needs is a little prettying up, such as new wallpaper and paint.

My wife thinks we'll have a better chance of selling it fi we invest in this decorating job. My brother thinks we should try to sell it the way it is.

ANSWER: The money you will spend to have the papering and painting done will not bring much of a price differential. In fact, you will probably lose by it.

Redecorating might make for a quicker sale, probably, but since your house is in good condition, I think you should try to sell it the way it is.

DEAR MR. MELZTER: We had a cocktail party that was really a bash last weekend!

Everything was a huge success. But there was a casualty. Though I had put out coasters all over the place, many of our guests set their glasses down on our tables without benefit of coasters.

Therefore, we have ugly, ugly rings left by the moisture on the glasses. Is there anything we can do it restore our beautiful tables to their original state?

ANSWER: Something better than this may have come along since I began to recommend this treatment. But it works.

Make a paste of rottenstone, which you can buy at most hardward stores, and lemon oil. Rub this paste into the stain. Leave it on for a short while, and then remove with a clean polishing cloth.

Bernard C. Meltzer is a realtor, engineer and appraiser.He does not answer letters personally. He answers leters only through this column. Address: Suite 615, 1420 Walnut St., Philadelphia [WORD ILLEGIBLE]