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Robert Lamoureux: Patio and pool pavers buckle under extreme heat

Your Home Improvements

Posted: October 2, 2009 9:58 p.m.
Updated: October 3, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Hi Robert,
I read your column religiously and hope you can help me. I bought a home four years ago that had been remodeled extensively. On a back and side patio, pavers were placed over concrete. Recently, two rows of pavers buckled up forming upside down V's. This row runs north/south on the back patio and east/west on the side patio. Also small tiles on one side of the pool have popped off. All the hardscape work was done by the same person.

Coincidentally or not, there has been construction of a huge home next to us over the past three years. The home is high on a hill beside us and major compaction occurred in the process There appears to be no damage to my restraining wall. Help please! Thank you.
David S.

Hi David,
Thank you.

It sounds like you don't have any expansion joints. These should be running between the tiles or there should be a space along at least one wall.

Typical for this time of year, we've got very hot days and cool nights. This is causing heavy expansion and contraction. If those pavers don't have any room to move, they will crack or pop. Also, you probably have some moisture underneath that is being heated by the sun and is acting like a pressure pot. That moisture heats up and will blow those tiles and pavers out. This is why it is important to have expansion joints.

Check to see if your pavers are set right up against the walls. If they are, you need to either remove that row, resize and replace or cut about a 1/2" gap along the wall while the pavers remain in place.

For your swimming pool, you also need an expansion joint. This is why there is, or should be, a 3/4" to 1" gap with DecoSeal. This product has the consistency of rubber that will give when the deck expands and absorbs movement. It allows the deck and the coping to move freely on its own. Without this DecoSeal, the coping would literally be pushed inside the pool. We see this all of the time. Pools without DecoSeal are not as rare as you might think.

If you don't have DecoSeal around your pool, or if it is in poor condition, this is something you should take care of as soon as possible. It will only cause more problems in the future.

Good morning Robert,
We used to be a subscriber to water softening tanks, delivered every couple of weeks to our home. After experiencing several contaminated tank deliveries last summer, water discoloration due to recharged tanks sitting on delivery trucks in the sun, we cancelled the service.

Last year we had a whole-house water filtration system installed in place of the prior replaceable tanks. But that, too, is not providing what we are looking for; the water is "hard" and not conditioned (soft water).

I recall, about six to eight months ago, you had an article in The Signal about a product that could be installed/plumbed inline to provide soft water conditioning that is not provided by the water filtration system.

I would appreciate your recommendations, product information and prices (including installation by your company). Thanks for your time.
David and Corinne L.

Hi David and Corinne,
I do remember that article about the water softener. It read, "Due to sewer discharge regulations, many communities in California have now outlawed the salt and potassium systems because of the backwash into the environment. Santa Clarita Valley will be salt-system free as of Jan. 1, 2009.

The magnetic systems neutralize the charge of calcium ions into calcium crystals. These ions will not be attach to fixtures, faucets, bathtubs, skin, etc. So, it will not scale and buildup, but it does not remove anything from the water. You still have the same amount of calcium contaminants and minerals that originally came into your home.

Although magnetic systems are cheaper than other products, you still have to buy the detergents, cleaners and chemicals to address the hardness.

None of the magnetic systems, anodes, or conditioning modules are recognized or certified by the WQA, the Water Quality Association or the NSF to soften water.

Culligan has products certified by the WQA as well as the NSF and Underwriters Laboratories, a Consumer Digest's "Best Buy," and have the Good Housekeeping seal of approval & Guarantee. Their "portable exchange tank" system, is the exact science of a self-regenerating softener. The only difference is it does not put the salt and potassium back into the water source. With this system, the softener tanks are replaced with a newly recharged softener as needed. For a family of four, considering showers, cleaning, cooking and laundry, they recommend exchanging the tanks two to three times per month.

Claims of various catalytic systems are considered "misleading" by many sources.

The test in Valencia is known as the Groundwater Softening Demonstration Project. I am not aware of any similar personal systems for home use. You may have read the report in The Signal that reported, "sodium hydroxide added to a mixture of water and sand draws the calcium out of the water and coats each grain of sand. The only thing produced with this technology - first introduced in the Netherlands - is soft, clean drinking water and grains of sand coated with a calcium shell."

In the meantime, the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District is offering a rebate to have all salt systems removed - anywhere from $325 up to $2,000, or $100 if you rent the system. If interested, call (877) CUT-SALT for a rebate form."

This rebate is still available. You can also visit the Los Angeles County Sanitation District Web site at to download the form.

Automatic water softeners that use rock salt or potassium chloride pellets were banned in the Santa Clarita Valley as of 2003.
According to the LACSD, there are six, salt-free water conditioning products, that have each been rated five stars by residents.
Listed in order of the most reviewed products:

1. LifeSource Whole House Water system (Beotron Water Treatment System.) This system uses activated carbon adsorption, filtration technology. Priced between $3,000 to $4,000. Three year warranty on the timer and 10 years on tank. Activated carbon filters last approximately 18 years. May require a cartridge pre-filter (which would need changing every 6 to 12 months at a price of $6 per cartridge).

2. Hydromagnetic Activated Carbon system. This system uses activated carbon adsorption, magnetic technology. $1,000 to $2,500 with a five year warranty on the control valve and lifetime warranty on the tank. Multimedia needs replacement after 15 years and costs approximately $499.

3. Rayne Portable Exchange Service. This system uses the Exchange Tank technology. Rentals are approximately $25.

4. Pelican NaturSoft PSE1800/PSE2000 system. This system uses activated carbon adsorption, filtration, catalytic technology. $1,000 to $3,000 with a 10 year warranty on the valves and tank. Pre-filter needs replacement once a year and costs approximately $20.

Carbon needs replacement every three years and costs approximately $100.

5. Scalewatcher system. This system uses electromagnetic technology that removes scale from hardwater. Approximately $499 with a 10 year warranty and no maintenance requirements.

6. Whole House Water Filtration from Premier Water Systems. This system uses activated carbon adsorption, filtration, magnetic technology. $1,000 to $4,000 with a limited lifetime warranty on tanks and one year warranty on computerized timer head. Filter media needs replacement after seven to 10 years at a cost of $300.

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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