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Robert Lamoureux: Best choice is Southern California manufacturer

Your Home Improvements

Posted: August 21, 2009 8:00 p.m.
Updated: August 21, 2009 7:58 p.m.
Hi Robert,
I look forward to your column every week. Our telephone entry system was accidentally hit by a moving truck and we have to replace it. Do you have any opinions or preferences on a replacement system? Thank you,
Jacque B.

Hi Jacque,
My preference would be DoorKing - and there are a multitude of reasons why I like them. They are located here in Southern California, based in Inglewood. Most of the major brands like Sentex and Mircom are now owned by Chamberlain which is an out of state company. When it comes time to get replacement parts, I prefer dealing with local companies because delivery is faster.
Also, they are extremely customer-friendly. They have state of the art equipment that is reasonably priced. When we work with DoorKing equipment, we make the installation and walk away. We're done. Unless somebody tampers with them, they'll run forever. They manufacture some great systems.
They offer several different models. Some properties have the paper directories Whenever tenants change, you have to type out and print up a new sheet, physically go to the unit, open the door, deal with the change out order on the menu and replace the old listing. My recommendation would be to always go with a programmable computer system with LED display. This way, anyone from your property management company or a Board member or anyone you deem in charge can make the changes off-site. It's well worth the extra money to go from a paper to a digital system. As long as you have the program and the master code, any changes can be made from a laptop or from the office in about one minute.
If you are installing a new system, I would prevent a southern exposure if possible, because the sun is hitting it all day and it is hard to read.

Your Home Improvements,
We have some posts that suspend three stories of walkways in our courtyard. There are six posts total on each floor, all the way up, and each post is 8" x 8" x 8' tall. Part of the concrete near one of the posts on the ground floor broke out due to root problems and we were able to see that the posts go down inside the concrete sidewalk for a depth of about four inches. This doesn't seem right to me. Are they installed correctly? Should they be replaced? I check and found that posts exactly 8" do not exist anymore. What should I replace them with, if necessary? Thank you very much,
Karen W.

Hi Karen,
On any support posts, you do not want them making contact with the ground. Now, code is to use stand-off brackets that raises the bottom of the post about one inch off the ground. This will prevent the post from sitting in water, and picking the water up into the center of the post - both of which will rot the wood.
First of all, I do not recommend this work be done by a maintenance crew or handyman or anyone other than a qualified general contractor. To do this job properly, they'll have to bring in some jacks and shore up the building. They'll jack up against the beams on the bottom of the second floor to take the weight off of the posts. Then, they'll be able to pull them out and replace them. Place a piece of wood under the bottle jacks so they don't sink down into the surface of your finish. Use 4" x 4"s under the beams and ratchet up the jacks just enough to pull the old posts out.
Although the exact dimensions will have to be engineered, once the post is out, they will probably have to sawcut a 3' x 3' x 3' deep square around the base of where the new post will be located. Demo this out and re-pour with concrete. Using a plumb bob, push and set the stand-off bracket into the wet concrete, exactly below the center of the overhead beam and level from side to side.
Once the concrete bangs up, you'll come back and set the new post. The new post should be primered and painted on all six sides - four sides and top and bottom.
You have what we call true 8" x 8"s. It's not that they don't exist anymore, it's just that they have to be specially milled. These are structural, load bearing posts. Their size was determined for a reason, based on load ratings. You absolutely have to keep the same size when replacing, or go larger. Any lumber yard will mill those for you with a three day turn around time and will cost you in the neighborhood of $160 each.
Secure the post with bolts all the way through, along with the lags provided with the bracket.
If you have skirts, make sure they are caulked all the way around. Otherwise, water will get in behind it and will rot the lumber out of view.
After that, adjust your sprinklers so that they are not spraying directly on the posts. Also, a good maintenance program would be to check for termites annually, even if you are positive they are not around.

Hi Robert,
Lately our toilet has been filling up very slowly. Is it time for a new one? And there are vertical marks on the inside of the bowl that are very difficult to clean. Any advice you could give will be used. Thanks,
Austin C.

Hi Austin,
This is more of a repair than a replacement. Both problems sound like they are coming from the same source, and for the same reasons.
The vertical marks are the result of minerals and are common in hard water areas. It's these minerals, the calcium and magnesium, that are causing the jets to get clogged up and slowing the fill time of your bowl.
Take a compact mirror and look up at the underside of the rim where the water comes out. If you see corrosion, spray on some Lime Away. This will also take those mineral marks off the bowl. Then take a coat hanger and bend it in the shape of a long check mark.
Stick that coat hanger up inside each jet about an inch or two to clean them out. Jab and clean each jet, all the way around the rim and you'll see a noticeable improvement.
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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