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Posted: May 22, 2008 5:04 p.m.
Updated: July 20, 2008 5:02 a.m.
Dear Robert,
The faucets are not right in my guest bathroom. Hot water comes out of the cold side, and cold water comes out of the hot side. I called a plumber and he said it would be about $200 to fix it. I'm not handy and I live on a fixed income but I was wondering if you could tell me what I would need to do.
-- Audrey S.

Just reach under the sink and uncross the supply lines.

What happened is the plumber got in a hurry and wasn't paying attention to what he was doing. He hooked up the supply lines backwards.

First you would want to valve down the sink - turn off the shut-off valves, the angle stops - so you don't have any water running through the lines. It's always a good idea to know where the main shut-off is to your house. Sometimes old, rusty angle stops will break. If you wanted to be very careful, go to the main and valve-down the house.

Disconnect and check the condition of the lines. If they are really old or if you see any corrosion, I would strongly suggest that you change them out. You can buy them at any home improvement or hardware store. They come available in different materials, but I recommend a steel braided flex line. In the old days, you'd see a lot of plastic lines. With these, if the plastic wall gets weak, they will pop. With a steel braid, it wont. They sell these in whatever lengths you need. If they are compression fit, meaning threaded, you can easily replace them. If they need to be sweated, then call a plumber.

While you're doing this, it would be a good time to exercise your valves. Turn them off and on. This helps keep them in good working order.

I was wondering if you could give me some insight into exterior paint. I was originally looking at doing Tex Cote but I have since learned that Tex Cote is not a good product. Have you ever worked with Tex Cote and if so I was wondering if you could give me the pros verses the cons. Secondly, what kind of exterior paint would you recommend? Thanks for your time.
-- Robert M.

Are you painting wood or stucco or both? How old is the stucco? The only reason you'd go with Tex Cote or a new finish coat on stucco is if it is starting to spald. If so, then just sandblast it and apply a top coat of stucco.

Tex Cote is basically just an overlay and is really thick, 10 - 20 times thicker than paint, depending on the installation. The little experience I have with it is OK. It's not bad, if it is installed correctly. There are 10 different steps involved with the application. It is warranted for life, but only if applied correctly. So, if something goes wrong, it goes back on the company that applied it. Are they still around? Will they be around for life? Did they install it properly? Did they use real Tex Cote, or a cheaper material in a Tex Cote bucket? There are many questions before paying extra for a "lifetime" warranty.

For the exterior paint, I'd go with a good manufacturer like Dunn Edwards or Frazee. Dutch Boy is a good paint. Anymore, any of these manufacturers have good paints.

Hi Robert,
We are in the market for a new deck. I spoke with a decking company that did our neighbors deck. I also got a bid from another company that is more expensive, but they say it's because of the extra work they do. The first company painted the deck surface up against the stucco about four inches high. The second company says that this will leak, so instead they break out the stucco and put in a flash. Does this sound right to you? Thank you.
-- Norma W.

I believe in taking the extra time and money and doing it the right way. Generally, companies will roll that membrane or top coat up against the stucco wall and leave it at that. This won't last, and now you have a situation that if water gets inside the walls, there is nowhere for it to go except inside the deck structure and possibly into your home.

To do it right, you have to break out the stucco anywhere from 12 inches to 18 inches high along the length of the deck, then flash and counter-flash and then install the decking system. The purpose of the flashing is to allow two dissimilar materials to accept and bond with the flashing; in this case the stucco and the fiberglass of the deck. This will guarantee any water will have an exit point and make the deck waterproof. If you apply the membrane to the stucco, without the flashing, the membrane will crack where it meets the stucco, and now you have leaks.

I would spend the extra money. You don't want to have to worry about mold growing in your walls or your hardwood floors or carpeting whenever it rains.

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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