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Robert Lamoureux

Posted: July 9, 2010 10:25 p.m.
Updated: July 10, 2010 4:30 a.m.

Editor’s note: The Signal would like to congratulate Robert Lamoureux on his 150th Your Home Improvements column.

Hi Robert,
This is the first time I’ve written to you. We are in an HOA that has water seeping into the elevator shaft. It’s a relatively new building but the developer has gone bankrupt. The best solution we’ve found so far is to spend about $1,000 every few months for someone to come and pump out the water. I know you would probably need to see it to know exactly what I’m talking about, but could you give us an idea of the best way to install a sump pump to keep the area dry? Many thanks,
Chris B.

Hi Chris
You can’t do that. Let’s say a hydraulic line ruptures and spills 100 gallons of hydraulic fluid into the elevator shaft. A sump pump would take that oil out to the street, which would then carry it out to the ocean.   

It’s unfortunate your developer is bankrupt, but the groundwater issue needs to be taken care of as soon as possible.

You’ve got electrical, and hydraulic lines, a cylinder that goes underground for another 30 feet and your safety springs. If you allow this to continue, everything is going to rust. And if you think the pump fees are expensive, hold onto your bootstraps. If that water gets in and around the shaft and ruins that seal or the piston going under ground, you’ve got real problems. I’m surprised your elevator company hasn’t mandated you get this corrected and taken care of immediately. 

First, I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy reading your home improvement column. I would like to scrape my popcorn ceiling but how do I know if it contains asbestos? Thank you,
Don G.

Hello Don,
Was your home built before 1973? The EPA through NESHAP (National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants) banned any spray-on asbestos materials, mostly used as fireproofing, in 1973. This is not to say there may not be traces of it afterwards, but it was supposed to have been completely phased out at that time. 

Asbestos has fibers, but do not check for these on your own. When the fibers are disturbed they become airborne. You then run the risk of inhaling them, which can cause health problems. I would recommend letting the pros come in and test.     

If asbestos is found, have an abatement company take it down.

There are many procedures in place for asbestos removal, including keeping the material wet, to keep the fibers from becoming airborne, until it is properly contained through emission control and waste treatment methods.

Hi Robert,
I hope you can help. I am permitting an existing unpermitted home. One of the required inspections is a “deputy inspector for expoxy of concrete.”  My question is why do we need a deputy? Also, it’s not clear how much bigger to make the holes for the bolts in order to add the epoxy. Thank you very much,
Laurie L.

Hi Laurie,
The purpose of the deputy inspector is to ensure the core depth is correct and you are using the proper epoxy. You also must remove all of the dust created by the coring. Everything must be done per the structural engineer’s instruction. 
I would recommend you remove all the dust before the deputy inspector arrives on-site because some charge by the hour. To do this, use the equivalent of a baby bottle brush that can be purchased at a hardware store.

Scrape the hole and blow it out with 80 lbs. to 100 lbs. of compressed air. Make sure to wear protective eyewear. Repeat this process two or three times. This process will loosen and remove any of the dust on the walls and bottom of the hole. You want the epoxy to adhere to the clean concrete walls of the hole, not the dust, so it will give you a good, strong bond. 
After the inspection, inject the epoxy into the hole and set the bolt so the epoxy rises to the top of the hole. Use your backing plate between the seal plate and the washer, and bolt it down after it drys.         

As far as the size of the holes are concerned, the rule of thumb is to core a hole 1/8” larger than the all-thread or the bolt you are setting. Although the engineer could call for a different diameter, 1/8” usually allows for a sufficient coating of epoxy around the bolt to create a strong bond. The prints will specify exactly what needs to be done. For example, 7/8” all-thread, 1” core. 

We have designed a custom, full-color The Signal/Your Home Improvements T-shirt we will give you if we answer your question.

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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