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Robert Lamoureux: Flooded home results in serious precautions

Your Home Improvements

Posted: September 4, 2009 10:09 p.m.
Updated: September 5, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
Robert,
Recently we had a Reverse Osmosis system line (plastic lines and plastic compression fittings) separate under our sink at around 4 a.m.
By the time we rose at 5:30 a.m., there was a lot of water on our kitchen floor (ceramic tile), and our dining room floor (laminate). I won't take up your time with all of the details as the insurance company covered 100 percent of the almost $8,000 in damage.

Fortunately, I learn quickly. I rationalized that the insurance company was very forgiving the first time, but likely will not be if it happens again.
So, out came the RO, and we immediately began shutting off the main at night, and anytime we left the house. I was surprised at how I considered it a very small and worthwhile task that many we spoke to considered to be too much of a hassle.

I only get one flush during the night - the tank refills in the morning, and then I can flush again. It was no big deal. I also replaced all my flex lines as they had been on since I did my copper re-pipe 10 years ago.
For my wife, however, it was not so easy and effortless. So, I began looking around on the internet for an electric shut off valve that I could control from inside the house.

I found one. It is a product called Watercop by a company named Dynaquip Controls in St. Claire, MO. (www.watercop.com).
The up side is that it works flawlessly and they also sell a wall switch that fits in a standard electrical handi box (or single gang drywall ring), that makes use of a standard CAT 5 network cable so that I can shut the water off from my kitchen as well as the electric valve itself (which is located in my one-inch water main where it enters inside the garage.
I also purchased a few water sensors for under my toilets and sinks.
If these sense any water, they also shut off the main. So far, there is no down side (except maybe the cost for some folks - it is expensive) to the valve or the automatic shutoff system; and I still get only one flush during the night.

In the final analysis, it was pricey, but worth it. It was hard lesson to learn that water can be very unforgiving.
My next search is for a wall outlet to replace the one under my sink that has a remote sensor for under my dishwasher, so that if anything begins to leak there, it shuts off the wall outlet and the dishwasher pump immediately goes off. Regards,
Peter D.

Hi Peter,
For our readers who may not be too familiar, Watercop is an automatic system installed on your main water line, between the shut off valve and your house.
It uses flood sensors that you position around potential sources of water leaks like washing machines, toilets, sinks, etc.
If one of the sensors picks up a presence of water, they send a wireless signal to the automatic shut off device that valves down the water coming into your home.
The signal can transmit up to 200 feet, if it's a clear line of sight, but normal home installations will probably require repeaters that will boost and relay the information.

Along with other precautions you may take, I still recommend exercising your valves about every six months. Go to all of your angle stops and turn them off and on again.
This will help keep them operating smoothly.

If you see any water dripping from the valve or hoses, or if the valves are frozen or hard to turn, have them replaced.
For the outlet under your sink, there are floor sensors available that operate off a solenoid, connected to the outlet. If water gets to the sensor, the solenoid will trip the receptacle and cut power to the dishwasher.

Hi Robert,
I saw a concrete driveway that I would like to replicate at my house. There were little rocks, decorative pebble stones of all different colors, on the top that looked really nice. How do they achieve that look? Thank you,
Jay H.

Hi Jay,
That is what we call exposed aggregate. I've always liked that look also. There are a couple of different ways to get that finish.
At a new pour, while the concrete is still wet, you broadcast the stone onto the surface. This is where timing and experience come into play.
You would then trowel the stone, which gets it level and pushes it down and embeds it into the concrete and allows the cream to come up over the top. This is what you want. This causes that aggregate to get set into a good solid concrete base. Let that set for about 30 minutes.

Next you put a release, a chemical, into a Hudson sprayer and apply to the top of the concrete.
This release will break up that top layer, the cream which is concealing the aggregate. After that sits for about 20 minutes, hose it down and the cream will wash away, exposing the aggregate underneath.

Dear Robert,
I have some rental properties and I have to have them re-keyed for each new tenant. I heard that it is possible to re-key the locks without going through a locksmith. Is this true? I asked my locksmith and he said he had never heard of anything like this. Thank you,
Lorna W.

Hi Lorna,
The Kwikset company has SmartKey. They are the only lock manufacturers that offer this kind of technology.
Instead of traditional pins and tumblers, the SmartKey locks have a side locking bar, which helps to prevent against lock bumping and allows you to re-key your own locks.

First you would insert the functioning key into the lock and turn it 1/4 turn clockwise.
Leaving that key in place, insert and remove the Kwikset "learning tool." Then you would remove the functioning key and insert the new key. Turn the new key 1/4 counter-clockwise and you've just re-keyed your lock.
According to Kwikset, these locks have passed the most rigorous lock-picking tests in the industry, the UL 437 and feature a heavy duty ANSI Grade 1 deadbolt.

Robert Lamoureux has 25 years experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contacting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, and not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor, after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Send your questions to Robert@IMSConstruction.com.

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