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Robert Lamoureux: To tree or not to tree: That is the question

Your Home Improvements

Posted: July 10, 2009 2:39 p.m.
Updated: July 11, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Hello Mr. Lamoureux,
     I’ve got a couple of questions about my home and would appreciate any help you could give.  First, I’ve got our front door painted with oil paint, and want to paint it again with an oil based color.  

The only problem is that this door gets a large amount of sunshine and the color fades.  

I like the sheen look when it first goes on.  Is there a particular brand you could suggest or something I can do that will keep it glossy without getting faded?  

Second, my house is yellow and I understand that this color attracts bugs, maybe because it looks like a flower?  Whatever the reason, it’s true.  

I’ll have hundreds of bugs – flies, spiders, you name it, all over the siding of my home.  I have used sprays but the problem continues.  Do you have any ideas?  Thank you very much,
Brian G.

Hi Brian,

There are conditioners that you can add to both oil base and latex paints.  The ones that I am familiar with are both made by the
Flood company.  Penetrol for oil base and Floetrol for latex paint.   These products will allow the paint to dry slowly and smoothly and will give you that sheen you’re looking for.  Pros use these conditioners because they make the paint stronger and maintains paint quality, they eliminate brush marks, and they help reduce peeling.  

Regarding the bug problem, if you are planning to repaint your house, there is a bug additive, an insecticide, that you can add in the paint that will eliminate crawling and flying insects.  This additive can be used for both the interior and exterior, including kitchens and pantries.  It will kill roaches, mosquitoes, ants, etc; and can be mixed with latex, oil, stains or sealants.  Some products claim to remain effective and last as long as the paint it’s mixed with.   

There are many paint products and additives available for various applications.  Some additives are for slowing down the dry time during the summer, or to speed it up during the winter.  Some additives are designed to provide slip-resistant surfaces.  Others, like the mildew inhibitor called M-1, is a mildew-cide paint and stain additive that can be used inside or out and prevents the growth of mold, mildew and algae for 3 years.

Dear Robert,

We have a tree that is continuously causing sidewalk and driveway damage.  

I have made concrete repairs twice already and they are both starting to crack again.  

Other than taking the tree down, what can be done?  Is there a barrier that will stop the roots from growing?
Phil M.

Hi Phil,

Once you have a mature tree in place, growing close to concrete, it will become a constant maintenance issue.  If it is a younger tree, then the best advice would be to keep the canopy small.  The larger the canopy, then the larger the root system will have to be to support its size.  

If you are cutting the roots once you demo the concrete, and are having recurring problems, then you probably have an older tree with a big canopy.  It won’t do much good to keep the canopy cut now because at this stage it already has an established root system. 

They will not only damage the concrete, but the larger the root systems, the more likelihood you have of them growing into your sewer lines, and these repairs can get expensive.  

The question is, how much is this tree worth to you?

Is it worth more than repairing your sidewalk and driveway, or living with the damages?  At the end of the day, the best decision may be to lose the tree.  You could always replant something else in the future — and keep the canopy trimmed.

    Mr. Robert Lamoureux,
In my living room, there is an electrical outlet that I can plug four different appliances in, two on one side and two on the other.  
One of those sides is very loose.  I have to push really hard to get my fan to plug in because the whole outlet pushes back.  

 I don’t want to take any chances with electrical matters so I thought I would ask what can be done about this.  

Thank you so much,
Helen T.

Hi Helen,
As I always say with any electrical work, even with something as easy as this, use a qualified electrician.  You can get seriously injured or killed from electricity, so why even take the chance?  Spend a few dollars and have a professional come out and make the repair.   

This could be a couple of things.  It might just be the metal tabs on the on the inside.  It may be work hardened and has become a little spongy.  Or, it may the box has come loose.  Replacing the box may require some drywall repair.  

The right way to repair would be to turn power off to this outlet at the breaker.  Take the cover plate off and remove the outlet. 

If you have a plastic outlet box, you may want to replace this with a metal Tiger box with wings. 

Run a deck screw through the side and into the stud. 

Then, rewire the outlet, attach to the box and put the cover back on.  Again, I know it sounds easy, but I strongly recommend using an electrician. 

Hello Robert,

We have aluminum dual pane windows that are getting very hazy. 

Sandra C.

Hi Sandra,

The argon gas inside the glass has leaked out.  This is allowing condensation to form between the two panes of glass and spot. 

There is no way of cleaning them without removing the glass.

This will be a continuous problem until you have the windows repaired or replaced. 

I say repaired because although there used to be “re-gassers” that would come out and repair on site, I thought they had all but disappeared.  Lately though, I heard of a company that re-engineers dual pane argon /krypton windows. 

Basically, you have three options. 

Look for a re-engineering company for gassing; call a glazing company to come and replace the panes into your existing frames, or you can always replace the entire window. 

You say you have aluminum frames which means your windows are probably from the 1980’s.  It may be time for a replacement. 

Remember, when you replace the window unit, you will have some stucco repair and probably interior dry wall repair which includes texture, prime and paint in addition to the cost of the windows.
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.

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