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The SawStop can help prevent accidents

Your Home Improvements

Posted: December 12, 2008 8:06 p.m.
Updated: December 13, 2008 4:55 a.m.
Mr. Lamoureux:
My son was telling me about a new saw that can sense when your hand is in the way and will automatically stop. Do you know what this is?
Ronnie P.

Hello, Ronnie:
It is called SawStop. Basically, there is small electric charge in the blade that is monitored by a digital signal processor. If you were to touch the blade, some of the current would flow into your body which would cause a voltage drop on the blade. When the processor measures this drop, it triggers an aluminum brake that slams into the teeth of the saw blade causing it to stop. This happens extremely fast. From touch to stop is 1/5000th of a second. The momentum then carries the blade assembly under the table and powers down the saw.

According to federal estimates, there are 60,000 table saw accidents requiring medical attention per year and 3,000 of those result in amputations. This is one accident every nine minutes, and most of these accidents happen to professionals, not amateurs. A very good friend of mine lost four fingers and his thumb and he had close to 40 years experience as a carpenter. It just takes one mistake and we hear about these accidents happening all of the time.

Dear Robert:
I read your column every week and I hope you have time to answer this question. We have a spa that I use on occasion and lately I've noticed some black material that's coming out of the jets. I'm thinking that maybe it's part of the plastic tubing that's coming off, because of the heat? Anyway, if there is a way to repair it instead of having it replaced I would be very appreciative.
Marcie L.

Hello, Marcie:
It's not the plastic tubing. You have mold growing in your lines and when you power up, it blows out into the tub. Have you had headaches or flu symptoms lately? These are the result of mold exposure. Contact your spa manufacturer and ask what mold cleaning and inhibitor products they recommend, or go to a spa retailer and see what products they have available.

One common method of cleaning, depending on the size of your spa, is to fill up the tub and add one cup of dishwashing liquid. Let it cycle through for about 20 minutes. Drain and refill. Then add a cup of bleach, or the inhibitor, and let it cycle for 20 minutes. Drain and refill with cool water and let it run to rinse. You would want to repeat this process about every six weeks, depending on use. Be sure to first check with the manufacturer concerning their recommendations based on your particular model and usage.

Hi, Robert:
I accidentally hit our stucco wall under the car port. It's not that bad but some stucco came off. I'd say a scratch about ¼ inch deep by two feet long. It basically took the sand off of the top. I've never done this type of work before, but am willing to give it a try. How would you suggest I get started and what should I do?
Paul S.

Hi, Paul:
It sounds like you have a sand finished stucco wall with a small superficial repair. This will be a very easy job. Go to your local home improvement store. You are going to need a mixing tub or bucket, a rubber finishing float and one bag of stucco base 100.

Mix up the base 100 with water to the consistency of pancake batter. Take the float and work it in to the damaged area. Just apply a thin coat. Follow the contours. All you are going to do is build up the damaged area on that wall to make it match the existing. The object is to fill in the scrape just enough so that you'll never see it; so that it matches the rest of the wall exactly.

With stucco, you have to let it dry for at least seven days before you paint. Stucco has phosphorus inside of it, and you want to give it time to seep out before painting. When painting a repair, paint from wall to wall because a spot paint repair will always be visible.

Mr. Lamoureux:
We live in an HOA and we have high pressure sodium flood lights mounted to the exterior of our buildings in several locations. The problem is that some of the bulbs that I have replaced are flickering and not putting out as much light as they should. I have taken these bulbs out and put them in other fixtures and they work fine, so I know there is a problem with the actual fixtures. How do we repair these?
James B.

Hello, James:
I agree there is a problem with the internal components of the fixtures.

Instead of repair, it would be cheaper for you to go and buy a brand new fixture than getting the components and then trying to figure out how to re-wire it properly. There are about eight wires inside them and if you don't know what you're doing, it could be a nightmare.

If you have a bad ballast, in most instances, the ballast of those HPS fixtures costs as much as a new fixture. So, save yourself the time and money and just replace the entire fixture with a new ones.
When you're ready to mount them to the wall, make sure they are bolted securely. So many times we see them attached with plastic anchors. These will come out of the wall and the fixture will fall down to the ground. It will not only damage the fixture, but at about 15 pounds each, you don't want those landing on someone's head or automobile.

Hello, Robert:
Would you please tell me what "pinned" means with concrete repair? I got some bids for some concrete work and one has this and the others don't. I'd like to know what I'm talking about before I give them a call.
Tom P.

Hi, Tom:
Let's say you have a section of concrete that has lifted or sunk and caused a trip hazard on a sidewalk. Once you get the bad section broken out, you would take a hammer drill with a 3/8 inch masonry bit and drill into the both of the adjoining concrete sections - on either side of where you removed. Make sure you drill level and into the center of the concrete. If you drill too high, it may pop the concrete off the top of the good section of sidewalk.

Then take some 3/8 rebar and hammer it into the holes, two on each side, to where you have about one foot exposed. Now, when you re-pour, the rebar will support and pin the new section so it will not sink.
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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