A)How that cold weather is here, we will be using our fireplace again. I am uncertain how to operate the damper. A friend advises us to close the damper, even if hot embers are left in the fireplace, so that the chimney will not draw heat out of the room.

Others have told us to leave the damper open all night after a fire because fumes could be locked in the house. What do you advise? -- C.R.

A)Here is professional advice from a technical publication: Make sure the damper is wide open before lighting the fire.

Many fireplaces are operated with the dampers always open. But dampers do not have to be constantly opened and closed in order to promote a smooth discharge of smoke and arrest the down draft.

Experiment to see how much the damper opening can be cut down to save heat while still discharging all the smoke.

When only a bed of glowing coals remains, the damper can be brought nearest to a fully closed position. But, again, be sure to open it before refueling with a smoke-producing fuel.

Q)Every year at this time, as the temperature goes down outside and I turn the heat on inside, condensation forms on the inside of our storm windows.

I have tried innumerable means of insulation around and over the regular (inside) windows to no avail. Is there any solution short of replacing all the windows? -- B.L.A)The combination of tightly fitting storm sash and inside windows that are not weather-stripped is a common cause.

Damp house air can leak out around edges of inside windows and be trapped by the storm sash, which causes condensation.

Very often, drilling three or four holes in the bottom rail of the storm sash cures the problem (many prefab aluminum storm sash has small sliding louvers in the bottom rail to provide ventilation when needed). This might be worth an experiment on one of your windows. If it works, do it to the others.

Q)My outdoor carpeting is worn in several areas. How should I remove it to replace the carpet, or can I just carpet over it? No one has given me a satisfactory answer. -- M.K.

A)I do not recommend you carpet over existing carpeting.

You should be able to remove the current carpet layer, which I assume was glued in place. Try prying up at a corner. You may want to use a hair dryer to soften the adhesive. This should make the carpeting easier to pull loose.

You may also have to use a chisel or a scraper to wedge between the carpet and the flooring so you can pry difficult areas loose.

Send inquiries to Here's How, Copley News Service, P.O. Box 190, San Diego, Calif. 92112-0190. Only questions of general interest can be answered in the column.