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Robert Lamoureux: Pool netting makes it less ducky

Your Home Improvements

Posted: February 12, 2011 12:32 a.m.
Updated: February 12, 2011 12:32 a.m.

Hi Robert,
Every year, we find a family of ducks living in our pool. I’m told we are not allowed to chase the ducks away, we can’t scare them, and we’re not allowed to do anything. Don’t get me wrong, for the first year or two they were so cute we were all out there feeding them. But after a while, the cuteness fades away and it comes down to a huge mess that needs to be cleaned up. I don’t want to hurt them; I just want them to go away. What can we do? Thank you,
Diana J.

Hi Diana,
I know they can get messy. Once they find a place like your pool, that location is locked in their brain, and they will keep returning year after year.

A netting on the market that can be secured all the way around the pool deck. At the time of year when your ducks come by for a visit, attach this netting to your coping as necessary. 

The openings in the net are not large enough for the ducks, so they can’t actually touch down in the water. If they can’t swim, they won’t stay. 

I’ve spoken to people who use these nets, and it’s a very good way to keep the ducks away. Just keep putting the net down and the ducks will stop dropping in. After two or three seasons, that duck family will learn Diana’s house is no fun.  

Hi Robert,
We are planning to install two stop signs in our community in Valencia. Is there a height regulation we need to abide by? If so, do you know what that would be? Are there any regulations determining what the signs are attached to? Thank you,
Janet M.

Hi Janet,
Yes, there are codes for just about everything. With stop signs, you want to be sure no one will hit their heads on the sign if they were walking underneath. The code for the bottom of the sign, minimally, has to be at 7 feet from the ground. The bottoms of stop signs are required to be 4” taller than door clearances, which are only 6’8”. They can be mounted on a 4”x4” post or a steel, perforated post. 
Hello Mr. Robert,
I have an asphalt driveway. It’s fairly long, fairly wide. Do you have any good reasons why I should go to concrete? Thanks.
Randy B.

Hi Randy,
That’s simple. Lack of maintenance. Anytime maintenance has to be done, I’m the first one there. Maintenance prevents bigger problems, both financial and time-wise, further down the line. If I can pay a little extra and get something better, where I can put it in and don’t have to maintain it, then that’s what I’m going to do every time.

I would absolutely go with concrete. If you don’t like the plain gray, you can stamp it, color it, do whatever you want with it. There are a lot of options for you to choose from and the best thing is you put it down, and basically forget about it. 

I’m not saying concrete won’t crack, because it will, but it lasts much longer than asphalt. And asphalt, as a rule of thumb, requires a lot more work. 

So, there’s no question. It’s got to be concrete.

Hi Robert,
During the rains we had this year, we suffered a lot of wet drywall that had to be cut out. We also discovered our windows and sliding glass door have leaks. We have had all of the drywall removed, but don’t want to put it back until we replace the windows and the door. What is your opinion on plastic replacement windows? 
Judy J.

Hi Judy,
They’re actually vinyl and if you go with a reputable manufacturer, they are absolutely wonderful. 

Shop around and choose the best warranty and style for your budget. You’ll find some companies offer a lifetime warranty for as long as you own your home. 

Hi Robert,
We’ve got a bit of a mystery going on here and I have to admit that we’re stumped. We live in an HOA and there are random areas of our sidewalks that are lifting, for no apparent reason. There are no trees — nothing in the area. What could be responsible?
Joseph W.

Hi Joseph,
The probability is that you have expansive soils. The only way to get around it is to demo the concrete. This must be done anyway because of the trip hazard. Excavate down 6” to 8” and backfill with a plaster washed sand. 

When you’re ready to repour, form it out and pin the remaining sections with rebar to hold the new pour in place after it dries. 

To pin, take a hammer drill and put a 4” deep hole in the adjoining slabs, and epoxy in about a 1’ length of rebar. This will take care of the problem.

Hi Robert,
I have a very unique style of front door that has the handle situated right in the middle. I think the placement of the handle is causing problems because every year or so, the latch needs to be replaced. Nobody can give me an answer as to why it keeps breaking. Sincerely,
Bob B.

Hi Bob,
You’re right. With the handle in the center of the door, you have what’s known as a long throw latch. 

I’ve seen a few of those types of doors over the years. Aesthetically they look good, but mechanically, they’re a nightmare.

Your house is probably from the 1960s and with any of the doors that have a handle dead center in the middle, that latch is about 18” long. It’s very common that it breaks. The only way around it is to get rid of that door and go with a conventional latch that’s either 2 3/8” or 2 3/4”. 

We have designed a custom, full-color The Signal/Your Home Improvements T-shirt we will give you if we answer your question. The T-shirt is available to be picked up at our office.

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


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