QOur bed squeaks when there is any movement on it. It's a relatively new bed, not an antique. Can you help us silence the noise? -- C. Bestafka

ABed squeaks, in modern beds with box springs and innerspring mattresses, can generally be traced to joints that are loose or need lubrication.

Remove the mattress and box spring and see if you can wiggle the bed by manipulating the headboard or footboard. Identify any joints that appear to be moving or making noise.

A likely source of noise on beds with hanger construction is the hanger joints, where the metal side rails that support the mattress join the headboard and footboard. Lift out the hangers one at a time and lubricate with paste wax or by spraying the mating parts with a lubricant such as WD-40. Also use the spray lubricant on any other joints that appear to be moving or making noise when the bed is wiggled.

If the bed frame has any bolts holding parts together, check each bolt and tighten the nuts securely. Nuts that work loose can be held in place by using Loctite or a similar product, sold at most home centers and hardware stores. Rivet heads can also be a source of noise; apply a small amount of spray lubricant so it can penetrate under each rivet head.

If the bed sits on casters, these are another potential source of noise. When lubricating casters with a spray, place some cardboard or a thick pad of newspapers under each caster to protect the carpet or floor from dripping lubricant. A few hours after lubricating the casters, wipe them clean and dry with a cloth and remove the protective cardboard.

Beds made primarily of wood are just as likely to squeak as those made of metal. If you find a loose wood joint that appears to be squeaking, try to work a little paste wax into it.

Silencing squeaky beds is an inexact science, and the ultimate solution in some cases could be to try another bed.

The bricks on the bottom portion of our house are stained with a chalky white residue that appears to come from the siding above the bricks. How can we clean the bricks? -- N. Kurucz

This is a rather common problem that results when oxidized or chalked paint is washed down by rain. If there is a porous surface such as brick underneath, some of the oxidized paint sticks.

If the stained areas aren't too large, you should be able to clean them by scrubbing with a solution of trisodium phosphate (TSP), sold at home-improvement stores. If phosphate cleaners aren't permitted in your area, get a phosphate-free substitute such as Savogran's TSP-PF. Start with a solution of 1/2-cup TSP per gallon of warm water, and make stronger solutions if this one doesn't remove the stains. Use a stiff scrub brush and rinse frequently with water from a hose. Wear goggles, gloves and long sleeves when using TSP.

If there are large stained areas, you might want to take a more permanent approach. (The stains will come back as long as the paint keeps oxidizing.) You should be able to avoid more staining by giving the house a thorough pressure washing, then repainting the siding with a non-chalking latex paint.

We have plaster walls with old pre-finished paneling attached in a couple of rooms with both nails and adhesive. I'd like to refinish the walls, but how difficult would it be to remove the paneling? Would there be severe damage to the plaster?

-- J. Carson

My guess is that you would have a considerable amount of damage to the plaster. Just pulling panel nails can tear out bits of plaster and leave a lot of small holes. If the adhesive did its job and is really sticking, you would pull off more plaster by prying it loose. The only sure way to find out is to remove one of the panels as carefully as possible and see what happens. If you can get the panel off intact, you can always put it back on the wall if you think the plaster is being damaged excessively.

If there is moderate damage to the plaster, you should be able to repair it with a "skim coat" of drywall joint compound. There are also products to repair more serious damage, including Nu-Wal, a covering that gives a fresh, smooth surface (www.spec-chem.com/nuwal).

Questions and comments should be sent to Gene Austin, 1730 Blue Bell Pike, Blue Bell, Pa. 19422. Send e-mail to doit861@aol.com. Questions cannot be answered personally.