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Robert Lamoureux: Don’t put holes in your roof, ever

Your Home Improvements

Posted: April 23, 2010 10:31 p.m.
Updated: April 24, 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 Robert,
We just ordered satellite TV. I read what you said about never putting any holes in the roof to prevent leaking. They said that the dish will be roof mounted. Is there an alternative way to mount the satellite dish? Thank you,
Susan T.

Hi Susan,
Sure. They can mount it to a fascia board. This way you are not going through the roof. There are also concrete pedestals with a metal pipe through the center. The base is heavy enough to prevent the dish from blowing over. There's an attachment that mounts from the dish to the pipe that provides a secure installation.

In any event, do not let them tie into the exhaust vents. Believe it or not, people actually mount dishes to the vents. With today's construction, they're ABS, which is plastic.

With any high winds, the dish will start to move back and forth. The vent pipe goes through the flashing jack which has a mastic seal. That movement from winds will eventually cause that seal to leak. Or, with a strong enough wind, it will snap the vent pipe off of the roof.

I've also seen dishes on the side of homes, mounted into the stucco.

To prevent leaks, a good rule of thumb - don't run any holes in stucco. You go through the paper and violate the waterproofing of the building. So, don't let them mount it through the stucco either. Tell the installers to mount it to the fascia, or with a concrete base install.

Hi Robert,
Our home is more than 35 years old and single story. The sliding glass doors are getting more difficult to unlock. Are the so called vinyl doors a good replacement? Do you need to repaint the walls after? Should I just leave these alone? Also, after the heavy rains and winds we recently experienced, I had a terrible smell (dampness) by our front door area I could not see anything and could not find where the smell was coming from. I do suspect that it may be from the outside area and was coming in through the gap between the door and the frame. With the heat, the smell has pretty much gone. Who do I call to check this out? At $100 plus an hour, it can get pretty expensive guessing. Thanks,
Mary B.

Hi Mary,
If you're looking to save money, I would bring in a sliding-door company that specializes in rollers and hardware. These guys have old stuff that they salvage, like wheels. What causes all of these problems primarily is wheel maintenance. The wheels are vinyl. Some are aluminum, mostly vinyl, and they get worn out. If they damage the guide track, then you're out of luck.

These companies usually list themselves under shower doors, but they do sliding glass doors also.

If you do want to replace the entire door, then yes you will have stucco or siding and interior drywall repair to take care of afterwards. The vinyl will be thicker, so when they take the old one out, the wall surrounding the door will be damaged. The door guys will also repair and paint for you. I would highly recommend going to a thermal pane door, a dual glaze. For the smell in your home, you need to water test.
Call a general contractor and ask if they water test for leaks. This involves opening drywall, water-testing, discovering where the leak is coming from and then making the repair. From my experience, it's better to pay a little in the beginning, then let it go and pay for the accumulated damages down the line.

Dear Robert,
I live on the second story of a three story condominium. My balcony and the balcony below me are both enclosed, but the gentleman above me has an open balcony with a hole in the floor. During any rain, or whenever he waters his plants, water flows through the hole and onto my balcony. Now my deck has a hole and the water travels down to the balcony below me. The problem is he refuses to let anyone take a look at it to see how it should be fixed. Also, am I responsible for the damages to my downstairs neighbor's balcony, or is this a homeowners' association issue? Thank you very much,
Arlene S.

Hi Arlene,
Generally, if it's exterior, even though it's a common area with exclusive use, the homeowners' association takes responsibility in most situations because they want to make sure the exterior of the building is waterproofed and is maintained properly. This has been our experience 80 percent of the time - depending how the CC&R is written, (covenants, conditions and restrictions).

If you have an out-of-control homeowner, make sure you put everything in writing. Any issues you may have with the HOA should be written.

An e-mail is a legal document and leaves a paper trail. Then it would be the responsibility of the HOA, if necessary, pursue legal matters to gain entry to your upstairs neighbor's deck for the repair. Legally, he would be found to be at fault because he has to cooperate. If he is not allowing access and providing his fiduciary responsibility to assist and grant entry, he will be found at fault because he cannot impede any repair, especially if he's causing damages.

Mr. Lamoureux,
I have a front door that has become very dull. It has lost its sheen I bought some latex paint, but then started thinking that maybe there was oil base paint on the door originally. They said I can't put latex paint on top of oil base. How would I tell if there is oil base paint on there now? Also, I saw a product that you can put on top of the paint and you don't have to sand it. What do you think about this? Thank you,
Greg J.

Hi Greg,
No, you can't apply latex paint directly on top of an oil base. One way to find out what type of paint you have is take some rubbing alcohol on a rag and rub it on the surface. If it restores its sheen, then that's an oil base paint. If it becomes gummy and gooey, then you have latex paint.

If you have an oil base and you want to put a latex paint over it, you first have to use a transitional primer. All of the major paint suppliers produce their own brands of transitional primers.

Concerning the "no-sand" products, I like the fact that you have to roughen the paint for a better finish. There's nothing wrong with taking the time to do good job. I'm one of these guys that like to do it once, do it right. So, apply the transitional primer and follow the manufacturer's recommendations and then sand. Then apply the top coat.

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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