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Robert Lamoureux: A quick fix for slippery concrete

Your Home Improvements

Posted: May 14, 2010 11:00 p.m.
Updated: May 15, 2010 4:55 a.m.
Hi Robert,
This is the first time we have written in with a question. We have a large porch with stairs that lead down to a sidewalk. We have adjusted the sprinkler heads, but the mist still carries and makes things very slick and dangerous. Is there any product or procedure you can recommend to prevent the concrete from being so slippery? Thank you,
Ellen L.

Hi Ellen,
Mix up equal parts of muriatic acid and water. Start with a half gallon of each.

Remember, although muriatic acid is readily available and can be found in every hardware store, it is real acid and needs to be treated with caution. Whenever you're working with acid, wear protective gear from head to toe - respirator, goggles, gloves, long-sleeve shirts, long pants and boots.

As concrete wears and gets older, sometimes it will glaze over almost like a polish that will become very slippery when wet. This acid solution will break that glaze and give you much better traction.

Spray the mixture with a Hudson sprayer on the porch, stairs, sidewalk - wherever you are slipping - and let it sit. When it starts to smoke, get away from it. Come back in about 20 minutes and hose it down with water. This will not only provide a more slip resistant surface, but the acid also cleans and brightens the concrete.

Hello Robert,
I hope that you will be able to answer this question. I'm doing something wrong, but I can't figure out what it is. I had new gutters installed a few months ago. I painted the gutters myself but the paint is peeling off in sheets. Is there a brand of paint you would recommend? Is there a special gutter paint? Thank you in advance,
Steve B.

Hi Steve,
It sounds like you are talking about galvanized gutters. If so, you have to etch the gutters first. Wipe the gutters down with vinegar and water, or you can buy an etching chemical from a paint shop.

Galvanized metal has been zinced and paint will not adhere to it easily. The vinegar will prepare the surface and allow the primer to bond.

From here you should scrape off all of the paint you can from your gutters, then wipe down with vinegar, re-prime and paint.

Hi Robert,
I have a pool light that is not working. The inside of the fixture is black. I replaced the bulb but that didn't work. I tried to take the fixture out of the wall but it would not budge. What do I do? I would really appreciate if you could answer this for me. Thank you,
Terry M.

Hi Terry,
This is going to take some work on your part. The black that you are seeing is the resin core. This happened because it got too hot. Once it goes black like that, you're done. You're going to have to replace the entire assembly.

If you can't pull the fixture from the pool wall, the only alternative is to saw cut the decking from the top, demo and excavate down to the rose tube - a copper conduit attached to the back of the fixture. The wires are connected to the fixture through the rose tube from the bell box and then out to the panel. Sometimes you can cut the rose tube halfway to the bell box and this will free up enough tension to allow you to pull the fixture out of the wall. Sometimes not. What's happened is over the years - the water has caused the insulation to swell and become jammed so tight it won't move.

You might have to chip the plaster out from around the fixture, and once you've cut the rose tube, pull the fixture. If you're careful, you'll have minimal plaster repair once you remove the fixture.

If you're handy, you can do it. If not, you'll need an electrician or a pool technician well versed with this to do it for you.

If it's frozen you have to replace the fixture and the rose tube. You might get lucky, but it's not unusual to have to saw-cut and open up your deck all the way back to the bell box, do the demo work, excavate down to the rose tube, pull it out, replace and then make the repairs to your decking and pool wall.

The rose tube and the fixture come as one piece. The rose tube is connected to the back of the fixture. It's bent in half for transportation purposes but it's all one piece.

During the plaster repair you want to integrate with the existing plaster. You don't want any edges. Plaster dries very quickly so mix it in small amounts to give yourself time for a good job. Trowel finish and make sure it is waterproof.

On the surface, don't re-pour the concrete up against the coping. If you do so when the deck expands with the heat, it will push your coping into the water. Remember to leave some space for the Deck-O-Seal. Sometimes settling will occur. Instead of filling the extra space with Deck-O-Seal, you can partially fill with sand or backer rod which creates a bottom.

When the seal cures, it bonds with the top of the backer rod and the sides of the coping and concrete. This creates a shock absorber between the concrete decking and the coping, and prevents the water from washing down inside your deck.

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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