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Robert Lamoureux: Water, water everywhere at home

Your Home Improvements

Posted: April 2, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: April 2, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Hi Robert,
I was wondering if you had a good solution for water wicking up through my garage slab.

I do know that it is wicking the moisture from below.

It is a fairly new slab (five years old). I know there was no vapor barrier installed prior to pour.

I don’t want to tear it out. I am looking for ideas on a good sealant (paint, epoxy, something).

Thank you,
Gary B.

Hi Gary,
First, be aware that there are some cheaper sealers on the market that are only going to last four or five months. Then your slab would have to be re-coated.

One of the better sealer manufacturers is called Okon. If you go to a building supply where masonry supplies are sold, they’ll have Okon products available. That’s what I’d recommend.

Explain to them the details of your slab problems and they will be able to provide the right product for you. Be sure and read the directions carefully and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the application.

Hi Robert,
I live in a 20 year old house in Valencia that has the original wood garage door.

After heavy rains, the garage door would open only halfway, then stop. After the door dries off (after a couple of days), it works fine again. I suspect that this is due to the water that is soaked into the wood door, causing it to be too heavy to open all the way.

I don’t really want to get a new door (due to my limited budget).

What would you recommend as a solution to this problem? 

Would you recommend painting a coat of water-repellent on the outside of the garage door? 

If so, what brand would you recommend? 

The paint color of the garage door on the outside is a two-tone, off-white and rose with decorative borders. I would like to keep the same colors.

I don’t really want to re-paint the garage door, otherwise, I would have to re-paint the exterior of my house so that it matches.

Thanks so much for your advice.
Annie L.

Hi Annie,
As far as a clear coat is concerned, there is nothing you can put on top of the paint. Instead, the door will have to be repainted as it has become porous.

You can computer match colors with no problem. All you need is a sample the size of a quarter.

All of the larger hardware outlets, down to any of the major paint manufacturers, can provide you a 100 percent computer match.

It sounds like the weight of the wet door may be part of the problem, but there are other problems you can check.

On some of the inside of garage-door operators, there are tension increase and decrease settings. There are two buttons that are usually on small stems or screw-driven. It is usually clearly labeled “Increase” and “Decrease” on the inside of the operator; sometimes it protrudes to the outside of the motor. Just increase the tension and that will help assist raising the door.

If the tension is set too low, it also means the operator is laboring.

  Also check if your door is balanced properly. For this, disconnect the door from the operator. Pick up that door to waist level and then let it go. It should stay by itself and not fall closed or open further. If it stays, then it’s balanced.

I would not recommend releasing the springs. They are under a tremendous amount of pressure and can absolutely cause serious injury.

If necessary, call a professional garage door company.

Hi Robert,
We have a subterranean garage and sump pumps that failed and flooded our garage during the last rain.

We reset the GFIs, but they kept tripping. We replaced the GFI’s but the pumps kept tripping.

What do you think is causing this? 

Thank you,
Jim B.

Hi Jim,
First and foremost, you don’t put sump pumps on a GFI. They can measure a difference as small as five milliamps to five one thousandths of an amp.

To give you an idea of how sensitive that is, one AA battery produces 2.4 amps. They are so sensitive, that even the humidity in the air can cause them to trip.

If you take the GFI out and continue having problems, then there is something wrong with the pumps. You would need to test them.

But, if they tripped during the rains and are now working fine, then this is indicative that it’s a GFI problem. To be sure, what you could do is fill up the vaults where the pumps are located. Run an extension cord and plug into a standard receptacle.

If they work fine without tripping, then you’ve got a GFI problem.

So although they are mounted near water, the “install GFIs in a wet location” rule does not apply in this situation. You
don’t GFI mechanical pumps.

Mr. Lamoureux,
I had a leak in my home during the last storm. I water tested my house, as per your previous suggestions, and never could find how the water got into my house.

Any ideas? 

Clyde H.

Hi Clyde,
If you did everything correctly — one person on the inside as a spotter, and running the hose long enough and thorough enough — then your leak was probably caused by the high winds we’ve had recently.

The water must have blown up under some flashing and found its way into your home. If you look around, you’ll find an area of flashing transition that you’re letting water flow over naturally. Instead, blow water underneath, against the grain, and I’m sure you will recreate the leak that way.

That’s exactly what happened to me. I had three leaks in my home during the last storm because water blew under the flashing.

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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