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Robert Lamoureux: Smoothing over driveway rough spots

Your Home Improvements

Posted: December 31, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Updated: December 31, 2011 1:30 a.m.
 

Hey Robert,

You may or may not have touched on this in a previous article, but I don’t remember it. Now that it’s getting in the 30s in Santa Clarita, my concrete is popping and putting holes in my driveway at home.

The holes are only about a half-inch deep, but it is definitely not nice. What is going on here?  Thank you.


Happy New Year,
Curtis L.


Hi Curtis,

It could be a couple be a few things. It could be that the driveway is in a low lying area. Water might be getting onto your driveway, icing up and popping it. This is very unusual but it can happen.

Or, it might be that you had a bad mix when it was poured.

It could also be the result of too much troweling when the driveway was being finished. Some concrete guys tend to keep troweling and playing with it. When you over-trowel, it will bring too much cream up to the top. When this happens, the concrete will fail eventually.

Short of ripping out your driveway and repouring, there’s nothing that I would recommend as a remedy for this.

You could refill the divots with concrete. In my opinion though, this is not a good idea. The patches will stand out and will look worse than it does now. Personally, I think it’s best just to leave it alone.

If it gets to the point where it really bothers you, then you can tear it out and start over. Make sure you’ve got a good mix and the contractor doesn’t trowel it too much. I have to tell you I have a similar situation in my home, but over the years I have learned to live with it.


Hello,

I’ve got a block wall. If I grab it, I can get about 15 feet of it to wiggle.

I took the covers off and looked down inside and there is barely any concrete in there. Would it be OK if I poured concrete inside the holes?

This would make it stronger, right? 

I’m afraid that if it’s already wiggling, a strong wind or earthquake will bring it down. What is your most inexpensive recommendation? 

Thank you,
Tommy B.


Hi Tommy,

Sight unseen, I would recommend six-foot long masonry bit to drill inside the cells.

Drill down into the footing itself. Then knock a hole in the side of the block for access so you can get an air hose in there.

Blow out the hole that you just drilled and fill it with epoxy. Take a piece of rebar, minimum half-inch but preferably 5/8”, and drive it in the hole so it bonds with the epoxy.

I’d wait overnight for the epoxy to set. Then you’re going to have to put a form on the outside of the wall and pour concrete into the cell.

I would make this repair on every other or every third cell, depending on how much play you have.

This will stiffen up the wall. Once in the footing, the rebar will tie everything together.

This is about as remedial of a repair you can do without tearing the wall down, but it will keep it from coming down.

It’s a lot of work and will be an undertaking, but is a doable deal and will cost much less than replacing the wall.

Robert,


I’m contemplating a re-pipe in my home, which is 5,000 square feet. I remember you were not an advocate for recirculating pumps in a house. Why is this?  Could you refresh my memory as to the negative connotations? 


Thank you,
Matt P.


Hi Matt,

In my experience, these loop pumps are good if you’ve got a flat home and if it takes quite a while for hot water to reach the back of the house.

The downside is friction of the flowing water will damage the copper lines. When you have water constantly circulating through the loop, 24 hours a day, it wears out the copper internally and you’ll get pin holes.

It’s microscopic, but it happens.

One option would be to put it on a time clock. For example, you could set it so it would circulate hot water from 6 to 8 a.m.

Then the loop would turn off while you’re at work, and could then come back on from 5 to 8 p.m., when you’re home again. This would save the damage to your copper lines by having the hot water available only when you need it.

To leave it on constantly is a waste of time and money.

If you’re not there or sleeping, you’re just burning electricity, pushing water and creating wear and tear on the copper unnecessarily.

If you go with a digital timer you can program it differently, seven days a week. This would allow you to set different times on the weekends to compensate for when people generally sleep later and spend more hours at home.

Hi Robert,

I’m a board member of a four-story residential building with fire sprinklers.

Whenever we have a leak, we pay exorbitant fees to the sprinkler company. I think the reason being is they are considered a specialist, so we pay much more. Would a licensed plumber be able to work on the sprinkler lines? 

They appear to be an orange PVC pipe that are all glued together.

Thank you,
Yosi S.

Hi Yosi,


Absolutely not. Any and all work on those lines has to be done by a fire sprinkler company. Yes, I know the rates are high, about $150 an hour, but they are pipe fitters, not just regular plumbers.

They carry all of the liability insurance and this is definitely not an area you want to cut corners on in case of fire.

A plumbers’ insurance would not cover damages to that system.

Unfortunately, you have to pay those rates. But when they shut the building down, you want to be sure you’re dealing with somebody that knows what they are doing, get the job taken care of and then bring the building back up as safely as possible.

Everyone who sends in a question answered in this column will be given a full-color, limited edition The Signal/Your Home Improvements T-shirt. The shirt is available for pick up at IMS Construction in Valencia.

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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