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Robert Lamoureux: Be sure fan is installed correctly

Your Home Improvements

Posted: June 30, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: June 30, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Mr. Lamoureux,
I hired a handyman to install a ceiling fan for me. He was going to replace a light I had in my bedroom ceiling with a fan that had a light also. He pulled on the light that was already there and said the box would be strong enough to support the fan. I told him I was going to think about it. I don’t know a lot about this, but I’ve checked around and learned that there are special brackets used when hanging a ceiling fan. If I do need to have a bracket installed, are there any repairs to the ceiling that have to be made? Thank you,
Brenda T.

Hi Brenda,
First of all, you need to make sure that you have a fan box. This is a box that will have one or two spreader bars.
To install, you would put the fan up in the opening of the box and then spread the bars so that they dig into the joists.
I would not take a chance with the guy you are using and really investigate this thoroughly before installing the fan. If there is just a light fixture there now, chances are there is no fan box installed.
I would recommend using a licensed electrician for this type of work. Especially if the fan is over a bed, this is not something you want to risk as it could be very dangerous.
And no, if installed correctly, no drywall will have to be repaired.

Hey Robert,
Are permits needed to replace an asphalt shingle roof? I’ll be doing the work myself as an owner-builder and replacing like for like. And let’s say permits are required but I don’t get any, what kind of penalty would be involved? Thanks,
Jake G.

Hi Jake,
Yes, you will need a permit. You’re doing a tear-off and the inspector wants to make sure that the plywood sub-roof is in good shape. The penalty would be you having to pay double the original permit fee costs. The inspector could also require you to remove all of the new shingles you just installed so that the sub-roof could be inspected.

Hi Robert,
I’ve got a patio deck. I had a roof on it and I want to put a walking deck on top of it. We’ve used roofing products before but the sun chairs melt through the roofing stuff and has to be redone every year or two. My question is which decking system would you recommend and could you provide a step by step on the installation?
Angel M.

Hi Angel,
There are numerous decking options but one of my favorites is a fiberglass decking system. You first need to check that the patio cover or roof is rated for pedestrian dead loads which is the weight of the furniture.
You have to make sure there is adequate railing and stairs. You may remember a couple of years ago in Marina del Rey there were too many people on the balcony and it came down two stories. You have to be extremely cautious.
The fiberglass systems entails first of all making sure you have a good sub-floor.
You’ll put down a resin paper and then a diamond mesh. Next you would apply a concrete base which is part of the system. After that dries, you lay down the fiberglass sheet which comes in 6’ wide rolls and roll a resin on top of that.
After the resin sets, you come back with a hopper gun and spray your texture like a splatter or knockdown. Then when that dries, you apply two top coats in the color you want.
As long as you apply an additional top coat every three or four years, this system should last you a lifetime. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it. Do it once, do it right.

Hi Robert,
I’m writing about the knock-knock burglars in the San Fernando Valley that apparently can pick locks. Are there any locks available that can’t be picked? I would feel better about spending a little money and be able to sleep better at night. Many thanks,
Connie W.

Hi Connie,
My recommendation is a Medeco lock. They have several different types of locks available. I use them on my commercial building and home. Basically, the only way you’re getting in without a key is by using a drill motor or chopping the door down with a fire axe.

No lock is completely pick-proof, but Medeco is the toughest lock to break into. My locksmith is the man that installed the locks at Ronald Reagan’s home and FBI offices. His choice is Medeco.

The keys are highly restricted. They will give you a signature card and only the person on that card will be able to get keys. If a locksmith were to cut keys for someone not on the card, he would lose his Medeco license.

Hi Robert,
We can’t afford to run our air conditioner in our home anymore. I’m not sure what I need to ask but is it possible to make the air conditioner more efficient so we can still have it but costing us less to use? Thank you,
Ellen M.

Hi Ellen,
There’s not an efficient way to alter the mechanics of the air conditioner. They run on 220V because of the compressor and air handler, but do you have ceiling fans?

What I do is cool my house down at night and then turn on the fans. Turning the air conditioner off and not having it run all night long will save you tons of money.

Keep your house at 75 or 76 degrees during the day to keep yourselves comfortable. Then run the fans as much as you can and you should see a drop in your electric bill by 25 percent to 30 percent.

You can also reduce your bills by replacing your incandescent bulbs with fluorescents. There are a lot of styles and options available these days. Another option is to go with LED’s.

They are more costly up front, but the savings are substantial when looking long term. I replaced my bulbs with LED’s and after about two years they had paid for themselves.

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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