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Robert Lamoureux: Don’t place roll-away bin on driveway

Your Home Improvements

Posted: July 30, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: July 30, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Hi Robert,
I recently hired a company to take some concrete out of my backyard. They had a trash bin in my driveway that they filled. Now I have a big crack where the container was sitting. The concrete people are telling me they didn’t crack the driveway, but it’s been fine for 12 years, they come in for two days and put heavy concrete on it and now it’s cracked. Come on! Thank you,
Cal H.

Hi Cal,
I didn’t see a before and after, but from what you’re telling me, it sounds like the bin cracked it. I don’t know what size container they used or how much concrete was loaded, but a Low Boy will hold about 35,000 lbs. of concrete.  

Why were they on your driveway? Maybe there was a parking problem on the street or they just wanted to get it close so they didn’t have to haul the concrete as far. Either way, they never should have parked on your driveway, which is only 4” thick for a residential.

It is not designed to have all that weight on the four points of that container — the two stationary posts and the two wheels. 

It might help your case to calculate the weight of the concrete they removed. At 4” thick, concrete weighs 50 lbs. per sq.ft. Take that number, added to the weight of the container they used.

As a reference, an empty 10 yard Low Boy weighs 3,500 lbs.

Once you have a better idea of the load, call the contractor and ask why did he put that much weight on your driveway and not the street. Streets are 6” thick and can handle that kind of a load much better than a residential driveway.  

Hi Robert,
The whole west side of my house has large windows. I have tint up and the drapes closed and I still feel a lot radiant heat coming in. What can I do?  
Diane B.

Hi Diane,
Something I have on my home are sun screens. They’re not that popular here and many people have never heard of them in Southern California.

They’re a little more expensive than a standard screen, but they keep about 80 percent of the radiant heat out of the house. They’re phenomenal. 

To install, screen off the entire window. Usually a standard screen covers only the opening side of the window. In this case, cover the entire window. The screens look like regular screens, just a little thicker, and are available in different shades like black, tan, grey, white. 

They darken the house a little bit and they obstruct a little view but they knock 80 percent of the heat out of your home. During the summer, they cut my electric bill by $150 a month.

For a standard window, costs run approximately $80 to $90. Check on the current rebates offered by Southern California Edison. Previously, they have offered 50 percent for sun screens so you are basically paying regular screen prices. 

You can leave them on for the summer then remove and store in your garage, or year round depending on what you want to do. I leave mine on year round. 

Robert Lamoureux,
I recently replaced my gas water heater. I got a permit and did the work myself. I hooked up the tank and the earthquake strap. I put the overflow pipe down to the floor exactly the way that it was. I got a correction notice from the inspector saying the heater has to be on a platform and that the temperature and pressure gauge needs to drain to the outside. The inspector won’t call me back. Do we really need to do this?  Thank you,
David S.

Hi David,
Yes, you must comply with the building department. They are only informing you of a code in place that will protect you and your family.

If you have ever seen the aftermath of an exploded water heater, you know what I’m talking about.  

The reason water heaters have to be raised is because gas is heavy and travels along the floor line.  The pilot will ignite the gas on the floor. 

In theory, you raise the water heater 18” off of the floor on a fireproof platform. When you finish building the box, put at least a 5/8” sheet of plywood on top of the box and a piece of 5/8” drywall on top of that for fire purposes. 

Place a water heater pan on top of the drywall in case of leaks, and then the water heater on top of that. 

The T & P drain line goes to the outside. In the past, people have gotten scalded when the T & P was released. It would get bumped and drain out on the floor and could seriously hurt people.

Now, if it releases, it blows out to the exterior of your home, close to the ground, so the likelihood of someone getting burned is very remote. That code was changed many years ago.   

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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