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Robert Lamoureux: Ditching the dryer with a clothesline

Posted: March 19, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: March 19, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Hi Robert,
This is an unusual question, but I’m trying to save on my utility bills — especially gas — and I want to start hanging my clothes outside to dry. I remember we did this when I was young, and my clothes always smelled better. Is there a building code or anything that would prevent me from doing this?  Is there anything special to know about the poles? Thanks,
Ivan R.

Hi Ivan,
Something like this would not fall under the building code. The manufacturer of the clothesline pole you purchase will tell you what you need to do for a safe installation.

Always follow the manufacturer’s recommended procedures. They’re the ones that know the best way to install and use their products. 

Hi Robert,
I have a window I want to enlarge. I want to make it wider and lower to the floor to take advantage of a view. At what point does a window need to become tempered as opposed to a regular, plain glass window. I want to stay in compliance in case I ever sell. Thank you,
Ernest P.

Hi Ernest,

If the window is installed within 18” from the floor, it has to be tempered. Anything above 18” can be standard glass. This is because of the accessibility of the glass by children and animals.

Tempered glass, or safety glass, besides shattering into very small pieces, is made with very high heat and then cooled quickly, making it four to five times stronger than standard glass. 

Hi Robert,
We have a home in Canyon Country. We have a very big heater and air conditioning unit up on a flat roof. It seems every two or three years we end up with roof leaks and I’m starting to think it may be from all the weight we have up there. Any ideas? 
Scott W.

Hi Scott,
You could go to a split system. The furnace could be placed in an attic space or in a closet and put the condenser/compressor for your air conditioner on the side of the house. 

This way, you would take all of that weight off of your roof, and you don’t have the unsightly material and ducting exposed to the street. It also makes the units much more serviceable. 

There will be an upfront cost for redirecting, but if you’re going to stay in that house, I strongly urge you go with a split system. You’ll save a lot of wear and tear on roofing, as well as facilitating service on your unit. You’ll also keep the workman off of your flat roof. 

Hi Robert,
I have the opportunity of using a bobcat, but I don’t have the experience and I’m wondering  if I should hire somebody. Since you’ve been in construction so long, I’m asking you, can a dummy drive a bobcat? Thanks,
Randy D.

Hi Randy,
I generally don’t recommend inexperienced people operate heavy equipment, but if you go to the local rental yard, I’m sure they would be happy to show you how to use and drive it. 

They’re fairly fool-proof. Since you’ve never driven one, be especially cautious and make sure there are no children or pets in the area. 

The tractor is very easy to operate. The bucket is operated with foot pedals. The driving mechanism is two joysticks inside the cab on the right and left, forward and reverse. If you push forward on both, the tractor goes forward. If you pull back on both, it reverses. If you push one and pull one, it will cause the tractor to turn. That’s pretty much it. 

There’s also different attachments you can get for sweeping, auger bits, jack hammer bits — it’s a fun toy. 

Make sure there is nothing in the path like gas lines or any utilities. Of course, before you do any digging, you need to call Dig Alert by dialing 811 at least two working days in advance.

That’s the law. The law also states you need to read all of the safety instructions inside the tractor before you drive.  
So, abide by all of the rules, have fun and don’t hit your house.

Mr. Lamoureux,
About every six months, I have to replace the washers in my faucet. It’s a high end fixture and I don’t know why they are going bad so quickly. Thank you,
Vincent B.

Hi Vincent,

It sounds like a problem with the seat. On the inside of the faucet, if you take a flashlight and look inside, you’ll see the seat with a square hole. 

Take a seat wrench and lock into the hole, turn it counter clockwise, and unscrew the seat.

When you get it out, take a look at the edge. It should be smooth and fine, but over time it can become worn due to the water flow. Once the edges get jagged, it will start to leak and will cause the washer to wear out prematurely. 

Take the seat to the hardware store and replace. They’re very inexpensive — only a couple of bucks each. If the stems are questionable, replace them as one assembly. 

You’ll want to turn the water off under the cabinet before getting started on this repair. After you shut the angle stop off, open the faucet and make sure you’re dry. If the water is still running, that means you’ve got a bad angle stop.

Be careful if you haven’t turned them off in a while because they can break. It’s a good idea to know where the main shut off is out in front of your home.

If your shut off is not working, then you’ll want to know where the meter is located. On a residential level, meters can be valved down at the street with an open end wrench. 

These are just safety precautions. You just want to be prepared to avoid a flood inside your home.  We see it all the time. Believe me, even a little water can cause big problems. 

We have designed a custom, full-color The Signal/Your Home Improvements T-shirt we will give you if we answer your question. The T-shirt is available to be picked up at our office.

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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