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Robert Lamoureux: Strange sounds from the bathroom

Your Home Improvements

Posted: September 10, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Updated: September 10, 2011 1:30 a.m.

Hi Robert,

I like your column. I have a question I can’t find the answer to online. Whenever I flush either toilet in the house, there is a high-pitched sound. I was able to halt the sound by turning on the faucet but now that doesn’t work. Our toilet has a pressure flushing tank device — not the old ball and chain. What could be the remedy in your estimation? Thanks.

Pat W.

Hi Pat,

The problem is with your tank. There is a restriction within the device that is causing the noise — similar to when a balloon deflates if you pull the opening tight. It’s the same effect that’s causing the noise in your high-pressure tank.

You have to take it apart and determine if it’s a calcium deposit or if the device is bad and needs to be replaced.  

Hi Robert,

I have a side yard where the pool equipment is place. I want to put a block wall around the equipment. There is already some concrete in place. Do I need to dig and put concrete underground or can I build the wall on top of the slab? 

Danny C.

Hi Danny,

You have to dig. You need a concrete footing to hold up the weight of the blocks and the steel. Without footings, you will end up cracking the concrete.

Let’s say your slab is 3 1/2” to 4” thick. You need to sawcut a 14” wide trench and pour.

Anything more than four courses, and you’ll have to pull permits on this job. If you’re going to encapsulate it, it has to be to code. The inspector will want to see all of the pinning and the steel in the footings.

Delete - Merge UpHey Robert,

We had some plumbing done over the weekend. The appeared to be doing a good job but at the very end, they took a coupling and squeezed it on the pipe with what looked like the jaws of life. Our concern is it is a little out of round. Is it OK that this piece would be a little squished? Do you think this is a permanent repair? Concerned,

Katie D.

Hi Katie,

It’s a compression coupling. That technology is relatively new to our industry. It’s a crimp gun that compresses down on the copper coupling which saves a lot of time. Before, to make a repair, you’d have to valve down and wait for the pipes to empty before you could sweat the coupling in place.

Now, you just turn off the water, cut and crimp.

Rigid is the company that first brought this tool to market and it’s great. Even if the pipe won’t valve down all of the way and there’s still water in the pipe, you can make the repair with this tool. We’ve got one and love it. It’s saved us many hours which translates into savings for the customer.

Because of the cost of the couplings — which run about four or five times more expensive than a standard sweat on coupling — it is usually only used in certain circumstances.

I would contact the plumbing company and find out why the plumber used the crimp gun. You may have a bad valve.

As a precautionary measure, it’s a good idea to exercise your valves a couple of times a year.

Turn them off and on again slowly. Make sure there’s no sediment in there. This way, in an emergency you can shut your valves off.

Many people never do this, and then during an emergency, there are problems. Especially on gate valves, the round handle valves, once that paddle gets stuck in the groove, it’s easy to snap the stem off. If that happens, you then have to go out to the meter and valve down.

Hi Robert,

We live in a 4-story condo complex on the Westside. We’ve got one homeowner who insists on keeping his bikes chained in the stairwell. It’s really inconvenient to navigate around the bikes. We’ve talked to management, but the problem persists. Are there any laws against this?  Thank you,

Wade W.

Hi Wade,

Absolutely. All you need to do is contact the Fire Department ,and let them know. The Fire Department can come out, cut the chains and haul the bikes away — no questions asked.

You cannot even store a broom in a stairwell, because it is a fire exit. Regulation 4 is very clear on this. Nothing can be placed in that stairwell. The stairwells need to be kept clear and open for egress during emergencies.

I would let the owner know, for safety reasons, he should move those bikes — or the Fire Department will. 

Hi Robert,

As another loyal reader, thank you for your column each week.

We will be in our town house 10 years next April. The homeowners association has already won a judgment for construction defects. The money we received will not be enough to address the issue of various squeaks in the floor on the second story of our unit. Is there any product that can be put through the installed carpet that will alleviate this? Or must the carpet be pulled up and the floor re-nailed or have wood screws put in?

Neel S.

Hi Neel,

There is a company called Squeeeeek No More that sells stop-squeak kits for carpeted, hardwood or linoleum floors.

For a carpeted floor, you would use what they call the tripod fixture with the specially scored screws, a driver bit with stop and joist finder screws.

The company claims the key to the kit is the way the screws are scored. They are coated with wax which allows them to go through the carpeting without damage. Each screw has eight threads per inch for the first inch, then transitions to nine for the second inch.

As the screws are driven into the floor, the thread change pulls the floor up tight.

 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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