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Robert Lamoureux: Hit-and-run damage won’t stop

Your Home Improvements

Posted: October 8, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: October 8, 2011 1:55 a.m.

   One of our stop signs is getting run over. We always have to go out and cut the concrete and set a new post, which is a 4’ x 4’. We have not been able to determine who is doing this, but is there a way to make a future repair easier if it should happen again? 
Thank you in advance,

Joel B.

Hi Joel,
   You can use what the city uses, which is a 2” perforated pipe.

Take a piece of 2 1/4” tube which you bury and set in concrete, leaving it exposed about 4” above grade, above the finished concrete.

   Take the perforated pipe and put it in the sleeve. Just use a carriage bolt through it, nut and bolt through that. The next time a car hits it, the post itself will give, but the sleeve in the ground will stay intact.

All you will need to do pull the nut and bolt out and replace the post .

   If the post is hit or rots, you don’t need to replace the underground. Since the post is perforated, it bends relatively easily when hits by a vehicle. There’s a company in the SCV called Traffic Control that is probably the only place in this valley where you can find that type of post.

Hello Robert,
   I have a planter on the side of my house, and last year, there was some water leaking.

I dug it up and found some hard, concrete-like black stuff. Is that to make it waterproof? Can I add more of this stuff on top or do I need to remove all of this first, and what should I use to seal it?

Toni C.

Hi Toni,
   It sounds like you’ve got Henry’s 208 roofing mastic as your waterproofing agent, which is not the correct application for that material. I would recommend using bituthene.

   Unfortunately, if you want it done right, you’re going to have to get a sand blaster and blast all of that old mastic off of there. You can rent one at your local tool yard. They’re very simple to operate and the rental guys will be happy to explain anything you need to know. They’ll also give you the headgear and gloves.

   Basically, you have to sandblast that surface down to how it was when it was new. If you can see highs and lows in the grout, you should level that out by brown coating the interior. Use a Portland cement and some sand, level between the brick and grout lines. Let that dry for about one week, then apply a couple of heavy coats of bituthene.

Once that dries for a few days, put a drain board down — hopefully you have weep holes or drainage to an area drain.

Make sure that’s all snaked out and clear. Then put an atrium-type drain grate over the opening and backfill at least 6” of rock over that drain, if that drain exists. If not, put the drain board down, put some 3/4” gravel in the bottom of planter for weepage so the roots don’t sit in water.

   Above all of that put an earthen cloth, which is a cloth that keeps the dirt from filtering through the rock and turning it into a mud bath, then backfill with dirt. Make sure there’s some kind of drainage or weep so you don’t get root rot.

   If you’re starting new like that, I’d get all fresh dirt. Local landscaping companies will deliver. I know this may sound like a lot of work, but it will buy you a lot of years of dry.

Doing this the right way will save your home from rot, mold, mildew and drywall damage, not including the aggravation of it all.

Hello Robert,
   Thank you for your column. We want to put in an electric gate system but nobody on the board is well versed with these matters. What should I look for? Is it all basically the same standard equipment? Where should I start?
Thank you,
Larry L.

Hi Larry,
   The best advice I can give you is, get with someone that is very qualified for the layout. If you write me privately, I’ll be happy to provide you a recommendation.

   The equipment is as critical as laying out proper hanging of the gates. You don’t want junk. There is a lot of inferior equipment available that will only last a couple of years. You want to work with someone locally, in case you need parts. There is a major supplier now that has gone out and bought a lot of local companies. I have to tell you, they are out of state and getting parts from them is not easy.

   You’ll also need a telephone-entry system, and I strongly urge that you budget for cameras, which have become very reasonable.

In 30 years, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen gates hit. Unless you’ve got cameras to go after the culprits, it’s a “he-said, she-said” situation.

   I would also include adequate lighting at night. If you have an entry and exit, be sure and put a set of spikes on the exit side to keep from unauthorized entry. Unless you put a barrier arm in front of a slider or swing gate, you will always get tail-ins.

   Stay away from the old style transmitters where you just push rocker switches. People buy an extra remote and give it to a friend and you lose all access control to the property. I recommend a revolving receiver system. You can also go with a key fob. Just make sure everything is restricted so that you have control. That’s the purpose of gates, to control the ingress of the property.

   For the telephone entry system, I would not put an entry code where the owner’s can punch in a code and let whomever in. This defeats the entire program. If you have an entry code set up for your landscapers for example, your pizza man will have that code in 30 minutes or less.

   I would also replace any factory locks because they open with universal keys. Especially the telephone-entry systems. Go with a barrel-type lock. There is a lot of theft when factory locks are left in place. Everybody and their brother has those keys. They unlock them and walk away with a $1,500 board.

   Also change the keys to the lids on the operators. Make it as secure as you can and put the operators inside of the property. It’s not uncommon to see them on the outside of the gates. Anyone can just walk up, take off the lid, short out the terminal and they’re in.

   I’ll end it here. It would take the entire article to go through all of the do’s and don’ts when it comes to gates. Again, write me privately, and I will forward you the companies we work with.

Everyone who sends in a question answered in this column will be given a full-color, limited edition The Signal/Your Home Improvements T-shirt. The shirt is available for pick up at IMS Construction in Valencia.

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.

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