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What do you do when your pool skimmer breaks?

Your Home Improvement

Posted: June 28, 2008 2:52 a.m.
Updated: August 29, 2008 5:03 a.m.
Hello Mr. Lamoureux,

First time, long time.

I hope this will be an easy one, with an easy solution. The flapper on my water skimmer on my pool is broken. Our pool man looked at it and he said that it was all one assembly and that entire area would have to come out and be replaced. Is there a better, much less expensive way? Is it a necessary component anyway? Thank you.

Anthony M.


The weir or skimmer is where the water comes in and cleans the surface of the water. The purpose of the door is to act like a dam. It's got a piece of Styrofoam in it that floats so that the leaves and debris are cleaned as the water flows over it, before they sink to the bottom. It is something that should be in good working order because pools will get dirty very quickly without them.

If this weir or skimmer door has broken, you don't have to take the skimmer assembly out. This would be a big job that would take two men, who knew what they were doing, one day and a half to repair.

Instead, you can purchase a retrofit door from a pool supply house. These replacement doors have two surprisingly strong high tension springs that come out and hold them in place.

Dear Mr. Lamoureux,

I've got a cement question for you. I'm pouring a sidewalk that will attach from my driveway to my backyard patio. I'm going to need about 20 bags for this project and do not want to mix it with a shovel in a wheelbarrow. Those days are far behind me. I have never used a cement mixer and would like some advice before getting started. Thank you.



To use the right terminology, you're not talking about cement but concrete. Cement is a powder that makes up about 15 percent of the concrete mix. You have fine aggregate - sand, course aggregate, cement and water. These ingredients make concrete, and it is the cement that has the chemical reaction and acts as the binding agent that makes concrete.

Go to a local rental yard and get a mixer. They are about $18 a day and are tow-behinds. They are not heavy and don't need lights to tow. I would put a piece of roofing felt or rosin paper down or heavy duty 6 mil. plastic under the mixer because it will stain the street or your driveway.

It's important to keep your work area clean. Do not wash any excess concrete down the storm drains. It's not only bad on the environment, but it's illegal and they will cite you.

With a standard mixer, you'll mix three 94 pound bags together, one at a time. Mix enough water to get the consistency of oatmeal - not soupy and not dry. Don't dilute it too much or you'll break up the chemical composition and the concrete won't be as strong. With a sidewalk, it shouldn't be a problem, but with structural work a deputy will come out and do a slump test. They put the concrete in a cone and turn it upside down to see how fast it settles. During the summer, concrete bangs up faster, so work on smaller areas until you find your pace.

It would help if you had a friend or two who is familiar with this type of work to help with forming it out and with the screeding and floating. This way, you can mix and dump while they concentrate on the proper pitch and fall and the trowel work. You're also going to need additional tools like trowels, edgers and expansion joint trowels. The expansion joints are grooves pushed into the semi-wet concrete about every six feet to allow for cracking. Instead of cracks taking off and running throughout your walkway, they will follow the expansion joints. Use a 2 x 4 as a straight edge to run those expansion joints square and straight.

For the finish, I would match the existing driveway or patio. If it's a standard salt finish, you can buy rock salt at your local home improvement store. Get a handful and spread it out - like you're feeding the chickens. It takes some experience to know when to throw the salt down. If you wait too long, you'll have to roll the salt into the mix.

After it bangs up, come back and wash it off, pop the forms and enjoy your new sidewalk.

Hello Robert,

I'm a CPM (certified property manager) and have just picked up a new property with underground parking. They have metal pans attached to the ceiling of the garage with PVC pipe running and draining onto the floor. Do you know what this is for? Many thanks.

Katelyn D.


Yes. This is a band-aid. You've got a pool, common area planters, or decks that are leaking down through the podium slab and into the garage. They put those pans up to prevent the water from dripping onto cars or people as they walked to their vehicles.

This is going to create a two-fold problem in the near future. One, the slab is not poured with underwater concrete and is not designed for constant water exposure. If not corrected, the concrete will fail and fall.

Second, the drainage from the PVC will eventually become mossy and very slippery for the residents, causing a slip and fall.

Your first step is to contact a general contractor with experience in waterproofing and have them perform a water test to ascertain the source of the leak. Let them know up front you are interested in positive waterproofing, meaning they will excavate and properly seal the area.

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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