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Robert Lamoureux: Is providing ADA parking optional?

Your Home Improvements

Posted: October 15, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: October 15, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Hi Robert,
We’ve got visitor parking, tenant parking and blue handicapped parking on our property. Our board of directors are putting gray paint on the handicapped parking. They said since nobody ever used it they were just going to gray it out and rent it to a homeowner. Is that legal? 
Samuel D.

Hi Samuel,
That is absolutely illegal. Call the building department and they will take care of it. The allotment of disabled parking spaces is a provision of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which can’t be overridden. 

Hi Robert,
Commenting on the question about automatic gates, what would you say is better — a photo-electric eye or in-ground loop detector that reads the weight of the vehicle? Thanks,
James A.M.

Hi James,
The loop, a wire buried in the traffic lane, is powered by a detector which creates a magnetic field.

When a large metallic object, like an automobile, drives over the loop, the magnetic field is broken which sends an open signal to the board to open the gate. It has nothing to do with the weight of the vehicle.

This is a common misconception, as I’ve seen people jumping up and down on these loops in the past trying to open gates.
If you go with a loop detector, it will not sense pedestrian traffic, because you need metal to break the field. 

A photo-electric eye sends a beam across to a reflector which bounces it back to the eye. If a vehicle, dog or person crosses that electric eye, that will cause the gate to open.

They both have their pros and cons.  It’s a matter of preference. If I had my way, I would incorporate both. Many times, especially in nicer areas with higher end vehicles, we do install both because they want the double security. 

You’re generally insured that the in-ground loop detector is going to work, unless the wiring has come up out of the asphalt and shorted out.

Or, sometimes the insulation jacket on the wiring will wear off. Water will get in there and short it out which will cause a “hold-open” condition.

The electric eyes can be bumped, and if it’s not reading the reflector on the opposing side properly, it throws that eye out of focus and it will not work. 

These days, loop detectors are all self-adjusting. The old Sarasotas had to be adjusted by hand. All we have to do now is to plug them in and set the frequencies so that they don’t do any cross-talking. For example, if you have an exit loop and a safety loop, you don’t want them talking to each other. 

Hi Robert,
Our home is in pretty good shape, but the backyard slopes toward my living room; so when it rains water comes into my home. I don’t want to start putting in drains or digging right now. Is there anything I can do on a temporary basis to stay safe for this winter? Thank you,
Brian V.

Hi Brian,
Now that’s it dry, dig a nice big hole about two feet deep at the nearest spot where water gets into your home. Take a 5-gallon bucket and drill some random 1/2” holes about 6” from the bottom. Put the bucket in the bottom of the hole with a pump inside. 

When it rains, any mud will settle in the bottom of the hole which will allow the pump to discharge the water and silt out to the street or where it will gravity feed away from your house.

If you can, I would also put a concrete bed around the perimeter of the hole so that this rim will filter away some of the mud that will wash down in there. 

This is a very low cost way to help prevent water intrusion, but there will be a certain amount of maintenance involved. For example, the pump will have to be monitored to make sure clean from mud and gravel.

Hi Robert,
Have you ever discussed low voltage lighting for the front and back yards? Do you have a take on that? Do you think it’s a good idea?
Russell J.

Hi Russell,
Over the years, I think I’ve seen the whole gamut of lighting. The worst luck we’ve had as a company is with low voltage wiring. No matter how hard you try to keep water out of the fixtures, inevitably water will get in.

You’ve got high temperature swings from hot to cold where condensation forms and creates corrosion problems. Because of this and many other reasons, low voltage lights are forever failing. 

I would go with a higher voltage fluorescent, mercury halide or mercury vapor or the new LED’s which are highly efficient. Anything with a transformer, is more efficient than an incandescent. 

Any of the ballast lighting with the high voltage will give you the best success over low voltage options.

Hi Robert,
I’m a new board member here, and my first stand I have taken is to install a solar cover on the pools for the community because they are heated. I believe this would really help with our expenses. I have been told that we can’t install a solar cover, but I have not got a straight answer as to why not. Is it true a commercial pool can’t have a solar cover that floats on top of the water?
Claudia M.

Hi Claudia,
The problem with those covers is that should someone, whether it be adult or child, fall in on top of that plastic cover, it could cause drowning. Instead of being able to float or swim, it’s easy to get trapped on top of the plastic and it is extremely difficult to get out.

This is why it is not allowed commercially. It is legal residentially, but I don’t recommend it.

If you’re considering that type of application, go with a solid cover. It is more are expensive, but much safer if someone were to fall on it.

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. Send your questions to


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