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Robert Lamoureux: Five years and column #267

Your Home Improvements

Posted: November 3, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: November 3, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Editor’s note:

After five years and 267 columns for the Home section of The Signal, Robert Lamoureux is retiring his column. The Signal wishes to thank Robert Lamoureux and E.J. Thacker for their irreplaceable contributions to The Signal’s Home section. This is the final column for “Your Home Improvements.”


Hi Robert,

We had a rather large piece of concrete fall from the ceiling of our parking garage. It appears to be water related and to be honest I’ve noticed water dripping in that area over the last year or so. This is obviously a leak of some kind. Could there be pipes running in the concrete?

Sam D.


Hi Sam,

You’ll never find horizontal piping in a podium slab. The leak could be coming from any number of sources. It may be from a unit above, finding its way around the waste line. Or, it could be due to planter or decking problems.

Start at a wall at the nearest point and pace off where the leak is located. You’ll then go upstairs and determine if it appears to be coming from a unit, area drain, etc.

Ultimately you will need to water test. I would recommend paying experienced guys that know what they are doing to figure this out.

When is it dripping? Is it in the morning when people are showering? When the planters are being watered?

In any event, this is something that you should take care of immediately. If allowed to continue, the damages you are describing will eventually require structural engineers for the repair, if not already.

The rebar inside the podium slab has already rusted and expanded causing the concrete to blow out. These types of repairs can become astronomically expensive.

Cordon off the area and do not allow anyone to stand under that area. Call in professionals for an inspection and have them remove any remaining loose concrete.


Hello Robert,

We love your column.

Thank you for all of the wonderful information.

I live in a condominium complex that has a full-time handyman that takes care of assorted problems throughout the community.

He seems to be knowledgeable about many types of things. Our garage door was backed into, which bent one of the arms that lifts the door.

The handyman came over and I asked him if it would be best if that piece was replaced. He said it was easy to fix and heated the arm with a torch and straightened it out and painted it.

The door is opening and closing okay as far as I can tell but heating a bent arm strikes me as being a cheap alternative to replacing it. I wanted to find out if this was OK.

If this is what you guys do then I’ll have better peace of mind and won’t be worried about it breaking and the door falling on me. Thank you very much,

Valerie S.


Hi Valerie,

You are right to be concerned. Garage door hardware comes from the manufacturer with specific tolerances. The minute it is compromised, it can no longer safely be used to support a door.

I don’t know what size door you have, but a standard double garage door weighs about 600 pounds.

You do not take a torch to bent hardware and think everything is going to be alright. Absolutely not.

Talk your property manager and demand that the hardware be replaced. I’m sure they will get this taken care of immediately.

If there are any delays, contact your property manager in writing to start a paper trail.


Hey Robert,

I live in Sand Canyon and have a lot of wrought iron around my property. I continuously keep the fencing painted but it is still rusting. I’m thinking maybe I’m using the wrong materials and could try a different paint or primer? What do you think is going on? I appreciate your time,

Keith J.


Hi Keith,

No doubt you have standard iron tube that’s hollow instead of solid. It’s probably rusting from the inside out. The reason being is the temperature swings from night to day causes the tube to get hot then cold then hot, day after day. The tube condensates and the water that forms on the inside of the tube causes it to rust from the inside out.

There’s nothing that can be done except keep it painted like you’re doing to keep the surface from rusting. But if it’s rusting from the inside there’s nothing you can do other than going to solid steel. This would give you much less maintenance, but is much more expensive.

Dear Robert,

This is not a question but I hope you can print it anyway. I wanted to say thank you. A few months ago I asked you about locks because of the knock-knock burglaries in our building. You recommended a Medeco, which is the lock I went with.

Just a few weeks after they were installed, three of the four units on our floor were broken into. All except my unit. According to the police, they used picks to get into the locks and they can get in just as fast with picks as I can with a key.

I wanted to let you know. Thank you again, very much,

Connie W.


Hi Robert,

I have five daughters in my house and it feels like every time I turn around I’m under a sink clearing my P-traps. Is there a better solution for this? Many thanks,

Sal V.


Hi Sal,

You can tell from my picture that I don’t have a lot of hair clogs in my house, but I know something that will help.

Every month or so, pour about a cup of bleach down the drain and leave the house or close the doors. Personally, I like the smell of bleach. The bleach will eat the hair and dissolve it.

When you get back home home, your house will smell clean and the gunk will be gone. If you have any chrome fittings, wipe them down with a wet towel to neutralize the bleach.



I’m installing new fixtures in my shower and bathroom sink. I pulled the old shower fixture off and am ready to reinstall but I noticed where the handle goes, there is a void in the wall. Would caulking the chrome piece be enough to stop water from getting in through this opening and going down the wall into my kitchen below?

Please let me know when you have time. Thank you,

Bob A.


Hi Bob,

You can roll some plumber’s putty into a cigar shape and pack it around the stem. The replace the escutcheon plate and caulk. This can also be applied to the shower head and the handles.

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 with a thorough visual inspection.


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