DEAR SAM: We are bothered with bats in our attic; occasionally they enter the lower floors of the house. Local exterminators say they have nothing to suggest. I have tried moth balls but that doesn't help.

ANSWER: Most exterminators should be able to get rid of bats, although you can do it yourself.

When bat have left the attic temporarily, check it thoroughly for any openings, such as louvres or eaves. These spaces must be protected with quarter-inch galvanized chicken coop wire. If woodpeckers or squirrels have chewed away any wood, put the mesh on the outside as well as inside.

Bats are affected by the odor of naphthalene flakes. Moth balls would not have the odor intensity of flakes. Saturate the attic with the flakes, and pay special attention to areas where bats previously entered.

DEAR SAM: I intend to paint the red brick of my home white. You have said to clean the dirt and dust from the brick, but how? Is there a solution to be applied and hosed down or must it be sanded? Also should I use acrylic masonry paint? Finally, when cleaned and painted properly, will the paint job hold up indefinitely?

ANSWER: For cleaning, use a package of trisodium phosphate, applied with a fiber brush with a 12-inch handle and rinse with clean, warm water.

Use acrylic latex house paint and wait 24 hours after you paint the primer coat to apply the finish coat. The primer coat should cover the red brick fairly well; however, with some "soft" brick, the color may show through slightly.

The finish coat should eliminate the slight variations.

Wear and tear by the elements limit all paint durability; however, three to five years are considered satisfactory before another coat of finish may be necessary.