View Mobile Site

Ask the Expert

Signal Photos


Robert Lamoureux: Rains can cause soil expansion

Your Home Improvements

Posted: February 4, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: February 4, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Hi Robert,

I’m on a board of directors of a homeowners’ association. The concrete in front of our rec center has raised at least half an inch, so now we can’t open the front doors.  This happened in the last week or two. There is not a tree in sight, so I don’t think roots are responsible. Any idea what could have caused this?  Thank you.

Danny T.


Hi Danny,

No doubt you’ve got expansive soil under the concrete. With the rains we had a couple of weeks ago, it’s not uncommon to see this happen.  What you’re describing is a little quick, but some soil is flat and thin when dry but will expand like a sponge when exposed to water. 


After the last rain, we had a window leak. I did the water testing you described, but obviously I missed something. I started low and started working my way up. I was up a little past half way and the water started coming in my home. 

Kenny H.


Hi Kenny,

Once it’s dried out, tape the window frame with plastic, right up to the edge of the stucco. Completely seal it off. Once you’ve got the window isolated, then start your water test.  If you water test and no water comes in through the stucco, then pull the plastic off the window and water test the window. If it leaks now, you’ll know it’s the window. 


Hi Robert,

We have a shop here locally. I’d like to put in a ringer so that if we’re in the back I’ll know that someone is coming in. Are there any features that you would recommend? Is the installation difficult? Thank you very much.

Carl J.


Hi Carl,

In the last 10 years, annunciators have become more sophisticated.  They used to work with contact switches mounted to your doors.  You would have to pull the wiring back to the relay or chime box and hook it up. Now, they are wireless with a range of 1,000 ft.  You just plug in the chime box in back and mount the detector on the wall or ceiling in the front.  They work by motion detectors now and will alert you whenever anyone comes in your store.  If you have more than one entrance, they are available to read multiple zones and emit different tones.  You can set them to where a different chime is played, depending on which door is used.   They can also be configured with exterior mounted transmitters that will chime when someone is pulling into one of your parking spaces.  You can also set them to turn on all of your interior lights if someone is doing some window shopping after hours. 


Hi Robert,

I’ve got a low pressure problem in my home in Valencia. We used to have tons of water pressure — now we hardly have any pressure at all. I don’t have a lot of money. I know you’ve talked about the pressure regulation valve. How do you test that? I need some help on this. Thank you,

Steve V. 

Hi Steve,

You can get a pressure test gauge at any hardware store. It has a hose attachment which attaches to one of your hose bibs. The pressure should be somewhere between 50 and 80 lbs., depending on where you live. Generally speaking, we like to set them between 65 and 70 lbs.  If you have a water softener, like a Culligan system, you need to make sure that’s clear. There are two round knobs at the top of the tank that you can push to bypass the tanks. This will allow you to check if it’s the tanks themselves that are causing the problem.     There are set screws on the PRV that you can adjust to try and bring the pressure up. If you have a Wilkins PRV, there is a nut with a set screw. Back the nut off and tighten it down. See if the pressure goes up.  If not, then you have a bad valve and need to replace.To replace a PRV valve, you shut off the gate valve or ball valve for your home. If you don’t have one in line, then you need to go out to the street and turn the meter off. This is put on with nothing but a couple of plumbing wrenches. If you’re handy, just break the nut and unscrew the PRV. Be sure and replace with the identical manufacturer. 

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 Robert



Most Popular Articles

There are no articles at this time.
Commenting not available.
Commenting is not available.


Powered By
Morris Technology
Please wait ...