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Robert Lamoureux: Mesquite — great for barbecue, not parking lots

Your Home Improvements

Posted: December 25, 2009 9:57 p.m.
Updated: December 26, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Hello Robert,
Love your column. Got a great deal of good information from it. I just bought a second home.

The side of the house borders my neighbor's yard. My neighbor, in order to make a trellis for a Bougainvillea plant, drilled a dozen 1/4 inch holes through the stucco, ran anchors and screws into the holes and attached wire to hold the plant.

The drill and screws have penetrated the paper under the stucco and I'm concerned about water getting in. What is the best way to repair the damage? Thank you,

Mike C.

Hi Mike,
You are absolutely right. The paper is your waterproofing and once it's been damaged, water can and probably will get inside your home.

The only way to be 100 percent guaranteed of no water intrusion would be to cut out the entire area that has been drilled.

Get a chipping hammer, mask, goggles, gloves, wire cutters and start the demo. Remove the damaged section and extend out until you find good paper (felt) underneath.

You'll want to go at least to the next nearest stud to give you something to nail the new paper and lath onto. Underlap the paper, meaning you'll start installing the paper from the top, then bring the next piece under so that if water does penetrate the stucco, it will roll down the face of the felt.

After you get the paper installed, then you'll need to re-lath and re-stucco with the scratch, brown and finish coats.

The scratch coat is about 3/8" thick and is worked into the lath to create a strong base.

When that coat starts to bang, use a plasterer's rake and scratch it giving the second coat, the brown, something to key on or grab on to.

The brown coat is then applied at about 3/8" to make a good and even surface for the finish or color coat.
The color coat is the thinnest at about 1/8" and is the visible texture of the wall.

Stucco work is an art, especially when it comes to matching finishes or textures on a wall.

I'm not saying this wouldn't be a good do-it-yourself project, only there's a good chance you will see the repair.

You might consider calling in some pros on this one.

Hi Robert,
We live in an HOA and one of our overhead garage gates was not closing all of the way.

We called the gate company that got it to close, but is now slamming closed and is very noisy.

When it's closing, it gets to a certain point and then falls and slams shut.

The gate company is telling us we can either have the noise or allow it remain slightly open.

Isn't there a way to adjust the closure more accurately? This gate never had any problems until now. Thank you,

Jim F.

Hi Jim,
The gate is dropping and hitting the docking posts. It would be quieter to leave it partially opened, but that would add undue stress to the hardware.

Those types of gate adjustments are made by the limit switch. Usually, you can adjust the limits so that the gates open and close perfectly.

One of the reasons gates start to slam closed is over time, parts get worn and the limits can only do so much.

The chain or screw drive of the operator will elongate after repeated use.

Those gates are so heavy that the metal actually stretches.

When gates are newer, you can set those limits to do whatever you want, but over time, that precision is compromised.

If you have a chain system, the chain can be easily replaced.

If you have a screw drive system, then you need to replace the operator. Or, an alternative would be to install rubber grommets on the docking brackets.

This will help absorb the impact and will dampen the noise of the metal on metal contact.

Hi Robert,
We have a small commercial property here with Mesquite trees in the parking lot.

One of these trees is near an office. Over the last couple of years, the roots have caused the concrete to break closer to the front door.

The landscaper said we should cut the root but that may kill the tree.

Do you have any thoughts? Is there any way to save the tree?

Lorna A.

Hi Lorna,
It may kill the Mesquite? Good. The best use for Mesquite is wood chips in the bottom of my barbecue.

They are not good for parking lots because they shed those small leaves and drip sap onto cars.

Sometimes, you just have to get rid of the tree.

If it is destructive, cut it down and replace it with something that is not as root aggressive.

For the concrete repair, sawcut out the damaged area, pin with steel, form, repour and finish to existing.

Mr. Lamoureux,
I read your column every week. I remember a two or three months ago you were offering tickets to the Magic Castle.

Is it still possible to get tickets for a party of four? How much do they cost? Thank you very much,

Rudy G.

Hi Rudy,
I have a standing offer for readers of The Signal.
For guest passes to The Magic Castle, please contact our office at (661) 296-0462.
The passes are free of charge.

Hi Robert,
We have an area next to utility doors where the sidewalk steps down to a pad.

This pad is pitched toward the doors and is adjacent to a planter, separated by a small curb which does not stop planter mud and water from running on the pad during a rain and pooling.

We're not sure of the best way to fix the problem. Thank you,

Pete T.

Hi Pete,
This is a common design element with HOA's. Although a high planter and a low pad are not the best combination, there are a few adjustments you can make to that area.

Break out and raise the curb to act as a dam to help keep mud off of the pad.

Break out and repitch the pad so the water will flow away from the doors and not pool.

Install one drain on the planter side of the curb and another drain in the new pad.

Robert Lamoureux has 25 years of experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contracting.
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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