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Composite decks need love, too

Q. What is the proper way to clean factory-made composite wood decking that has become dirty, scuffed and stained from heavy use?

A. Composite decks, made from ground-up wood and recycled plastic, generally require less maintenance than all-wood decks, but periodic cleaning is usually necessary to preserve the appearance.

Composites have a number of advantages over wood – they won’t rot, split or splinter, for example. But stains, mildew and dirt are common problems.

Before cleaning, try to repair the scuffed areas by brushing briskly with a wire brush (preferably with brass bristles), brushing the boards lengthwise.

High-quality cleaners will remove many stains, especially mildew, but it is a good idea to pre-clean difficult stains such as grease (use a degreaser, sold at supermarkets) and rust (use an oxalic-acid cleaner such as Zud).

Some experts recommend oxygen-bleach deck cleaners such as Wolman DeckBrite for composites, but special cleaners are available and I suggest using one of these. Examples are Flood’s Composite Deck Cleaner and Corte-Clean.

You can get more information about these cleaners by typing the name into an Internet search engine. Follow directions for the specific cleaner, of course.

Some deck-cleaning pros use pressure washing to clean composite decks. This should be done with moderate pressure – 1,500 to 2,000 psi. High pressures could damage the material.

Special sealers, to help prevent future staining and water damage, are also available for composites. One is Superdeck Composite DeckCleaner, Check the Internet for details.

Q. There are filters in my two central air-conditioning units, and also filters at the return-air registers in the living area. I am wondering if this is helping or hurting. Can you comment?

A. Filters are sometimes used on return-air registers as well as the central units, and the main question is whether too much filtering impedes the flow of air back to your central units.

Excessive filtering can affect the performance of the coolers, and possibly even cause mechanical problems because of the extra load placed on the fan motors.

If the filters were recommended by your heating technician and you keep them clean or change them regularly, there is probably no problem. If you have added the register filters on your own, get your technician’s opinion when your cooling units are cleaned and checked.

Q. I had my outside wood trim painted last year, but am still getting some carpenter-bee holes in it despite the paint. What can I do about this?

A. Carpenter bees usually don’t bother painted wood, but if you are sure they are the cause of the holes (nests) you can follow standard treatments, such as plugging the holes with exterior wood putty or wood dowels. It is best to plug the holes at night when the bees are not active around their nests.

One sure way of preventing bee nests in your trim is to have it clad or covered with vinyl or aluminum, which also will eliminate the need for future painting.

Questions and comments should be e-mailed to Gene Austin at Send regular mail to 1730 Blue Bell Pike, Blue Bell, PA 19422.

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