Decorative Bricks May Not Come Off Kitchen Wall Easily

Question: We are planning to remodel our kitchen and want to remove the decorative brick (Z-Brick) from the walls. Is there an easy way to remove it without damaging the dry wall?

Answer: I wish I could say yes, but I’d be a liar! If you applied the brick properly, the chances of removing it without damaging your plasterboard (or lath-and-plaster wall, for that matter) are slim to none. This is the word from several brick and tile experts and kitchen remodeling specialists I consulted.

The best you can do is to carefully chisel off the brick using a wide chisel and be prepared to use plenty of patching plaster. Follow the instructions on the package or get the premixed kind at a paint or lumber supply store. I prefer the premixed kind.

Q: I live in a tri-level home in which the upper floor can become very warm during heat waves or when Santa Ana conditions prevail. I have seen wind turbines used on some homes and have considered installing one or two to see if it would help reduce the heat. I was wondering if it would drive up the cost of heating the house in the winter. One salesman advises covering the turbines with plastic trash bags in the winter, but the turbine manufacturer specifically advises against this. Please help clear up some of the confusion!


A: I’m surprised to see that someone from the Palos Verdes Peninsula needs turbines, but after last summer’s heat wave, maybe I shouldn’t be! You also asked about noise of turbines. I’m very familiar with turbines, having installed three of them on my house about seven years ago. My neighbors did likewise. I don’t bother to cover the turbines in winter, although I’ve seen many makeshift covers--with the appearance of trash bags--on turbines. There are proprietary covers for turbines--you might check into them. Turbines are designed to keep rain on the roof, where it belongs, not in the attic.

If your house is properly insulated--and now is a good time to install some roll insulation in the attic if it isn’t--you shouldn’t have any problem with higher heating bills in the winter. You shouldn’t have any problem with turbine noise. You might occasionally have some bearing noise, but an application of WD-40 or similar lubricant should take care of that.

As long as you’re looking, consider a whole-house fan. I plan to do a column in the near future about a thermostatically controlled installation that should be much more effective than several turbines.