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Robert Lamoureux: Flat roofs bring pain in the rain

Your Home Improvements

Posted: February 12, 2010 9:29 p.m.
Updated: February 13, 2010 4:55 a.m.
We have designed a custom, full-color The Signal/Your Home Improvements T-shirt that we will send to you, with our compliments, if we answer your question in our column. Thank you, Robert Lamoureux

Hello Mr. Lamoureux,
My husband and I both enjoy your weekly columns and hope you can give us some guidance. The 32-year-old home we bought last year has an unpermitted addition, a covered patio that was converted to a room, with carpeting and the sliding glass door removed between the house and the addition. The roof is nearly flat, so when we get a ton of rain like we've had lately, the water pools up and the gutters can't keep up.

We have rubber mats, towels and bowls catching the water leaks.

Is there any product we can apply to the roof itself to improve its waterproofing? Eventually we plan to tear the room off and rebuild a proper addition in its place. Thank you,

Lisa H.

Hi Lisa,
Strictly on a temporary basis, and only to get you through the rains until you have time for a more permanent repair, use Henry's 108. Wait until the roof is dry and pour the Henry's 108 directly on top of the roof, then spread it around with a squeegee or broom. It will come out of the bucket soupy and you'll just spread it evenly over your entire roof surface.

Do you have any vent stacks coming up through the roof? If so, you would first apply Henry's 208, which is much thicker, around the base of all of the vent stacks, pipe joints or flashing that may be leaking. Once this is in place, then come back and get started with the 108.

One thing to remember is to start at the far side and work your way to an exit. You don't want to paint yourself into a corner.

Hello Robert,
I had my house in Valencia re-roofed in 2006 with steel tiles, replacing cedar shake. Our house has some attic area, through which some of our water pipes travel, as well as a 13 1/2 foot vaulted ceiling (minus an attic) in the living room and dining room areas.

It is clear to us that the steel tiles absorb and retain far more heat than did the wood shake roofing. During warm weather months, the hot water is hotter (not such a bad thing), but the cold water is also much warmer. Even more important is the higher temperature in our living room, where I spend a lot of time. Yes, we have working air conditioning, but still...

I'd like to clean the steel tiles and spray on a clear reflective coating that will minimize the heat radiating down into the living room. Can you recommend a suitable material, one that will adhere properly to cleaned steel tile roofing and effectively reflect sunlight? Thanks,

Allen S.

Hi Allen,
The best suggestion I could make would be contact the manufacturer. Typically, they are the ones that spend the money to find out which products work best with their own. I'm sure they've done reflective and temperature testing and would be able to recommend the best product available for use.

Regarding the water pipes, I would get up there and insulate all of the hot water lines for good energy management. You can go to your local home improvement store and purchase the insulation wrap, which is slit all the way down the side. You just cap over and it grips onto the pipe. During the winter especially, you'll notice the temperature difference with the hot water.

I enjoy your weekly column in The Signal, please keep it up. I am a home do-it-yourselfer and have attempted many, many tasks. The last of which was a complete remodel of our kitchen. I and my wife (47 years) did everything except hang the cabinets and install the marble counters.

We are now going to tear out the carpet and install hardwood flooring in the dining room, living room and conversation pit. We would like to remove a 4" x 4" post that extends from the corner of the conversation pit to the exposed beam above. This model has an exposed beam at the peak of the vaulted ceiling without any mid support. It would seem that the 4" x 4" was mainly as a support for the wrought iron railing that surrounded the conversation pit. If you know the San Marino in Valencia Hills you know what I am referring to.

I have attached several photos of this and would like to know if you are familiar can I simply remove? Thanks,

Rich O.

Hi Rich,
For the benefit of our readers, we reviewed Rich's photos of a 4"x 4" post attached to what appears to be a 4"x 12" beam supporting the ceiling. So he has a 4"x4" post standing in the middle of what will soon be a hardwood floor.

I would never remove anything that appears to be structural without calling in either a licensed contractor for a thorough inspection or a structural engineer. The reason being is that posts - and in this case what appears to be a load-bearing post, are usually put in for a reason.

I don't think anyone - the architect or builder, would have used a 4"x 4" extending all the way up to a beam in a vaulted ceiling just to support a wrought iron railing. That would be a waste of money and material.

Until you find out for sure, you do not want to start pulling posts out of your home. That beam, being supported by the 4"x 4" is in turn supporting the roof rafters - and the more rafters mean a greater load. Without knowing the load, and only based on the length of that span, it looks like the 4"x 4" is necessary. That's not to say that you have to live with a post in the middle of your conversation pit. If it is determined that support is required, you could alternately increase the size of the overhead beam which would alleviate the need for the support post. A structural engineer would be called upon to make these calculations.

Hi Robert,
I need to do some gutter work. How many lineal feet of gutter can I install before putting in a downspout? Thank you,

Ronald C.

Hi Ronald,
Generally speaking, you want a downspout at every 40 feet of gutter or it could collapse. Gutter spikes are not designed to hold more than this.

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. Send your questions to


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