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Robert Lamoureux: It’s a quick fix to add a doorbell

Your Home Improvements

Posted: March 24, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: March 24, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Dear Robert,

I live in Valencia in a house that is so long that since we only have one doorbell we can’t hear it from the opposite side of the house. My question is:  Can I run a second door bell off the same transformer and place it in the other part of the house?

Thank you for your help.

Richard F.


Hi Richard,

You can’t use the same transformer because it is only 14 - 16 volts, which is not enough voltage to carry two doorbells. 

The most economical way to do this without running wire and another transformer is to purchase a wireless doorbell from your local home improvement center.

Included in the kit will be a transmitter that you wire into your existing ringer and complete wiring diagrams. It’s very easy and is all low voltage so you can’t get shocked.

There is also a plug-in module which is the receiver and the chime all built into one. Anytime the doorbell rings, it will power up the transmitter that in turn powers the receiver and chimes the bell. You plug this in wherever you want and can move it at will. 

The cost is in the neighborhood of $30 to $40 and you’ve got an instant doorbell. I’ve had one in the back of my home for 15 years and it still works fine. 



I came home to my back door being kicked in last night. What should I do.  It has just a door knob on it.  I know I should put a deadbolt on it. What does that involve? They broke out the doorjam so I will have to get that replaced.  Is there anything else? 

Brian D.


Hi Brian,

That’s about all you can do. Replace the jamb and install a deadbolt. The one thing I would do is put in a heavy duty strike plate on the deadbolt. They come with 3” long lag bolts that go into the studs.

Nobody can kick the door in with those. You’ll need either a key or a fire axe to get in, unless there’s glass. 

 If the door has any windows or glass near it, you probably don’t want a thumb turn on the deadbolt or they will just break the glass, reach in and open the door.

I’d recommend a key-in/key-out if that’s the situation. There’s not too much more you can do. 


Hi Robert,

I serve on the board of our association. We had a tree that lifted a wall which caused it to lean a bit. 

The grout between the blocks is cracked and it is not perfectly straight, but other than that it looks good. I pushed on it pretty hard and it didn’t move.  I personally think that as long as we repair the damaged grout we’ll be fine. 

The rest of the board is thinking we need to knock the whole wall down, 150 feet long or more and rebuild. What’s your opinion? Thank you,

Alberto G.


Hi Alberto,

Just because a wall is leaning a little because of a tree root does not necessarily mean it will come down.

To be safe, my recommendation would be to bring out a masonry contractor to provide an inspection. 

If he says you only need to tear out part of the wall or just repair the grout lines, then you’ve saved a sizable amount of money from an unnecessary rebuild.  

  Hi Robert,

I’m changing all the doors in my house with pre-hungs. How do figure out if a door is a left swing or a right swing? Thank you,

Dion A.


Hi Dion,

The easiest way is to open the door and put your back against the hinges on the jamb. If the door opens to the left, it’s a left swing; to the right it’s a right swing.

You’ll also need to know the hinge placements.  They will want to know measurements from the top of the door to the top of the top of each of the hinges.  Also, measure the size of the hinges. 

For the latch or deadbolt, measure from the top of the door to the center of the latch. That will tell them where to put the bore. Also give them the backset. This is how far from the leading edge of the door is the knobset.  This will either be 1 3/8” or 1 3/4”. On a front door, it will usually be 1 3/4”. 

The front entry door will have to 1 3/4” thick, but all the interior doors can be 1 3/8”.


Mr. Lamoureux,

I hope that you can get back to me with this question asap. We have a bad roof. It leaks and we don’t have the money to have it repaired at the moment. One solution so far is to use plastic for waterproofing.  We could hold it down with sandbags and attach the plastic to side walls that are 2 feet tall. This would basically make a waterproof liner and keep the water out of the units under that section. Does this sound like a good idea? 

Martin V.


Hi Martin,

No, this is a terrible idea. If that plastic obstructs the scuppers, you’re going to end up with a swimming pool on your roof. The weight of this much water would cause a total roof collapse.

Roofs are designed to channel water off of them as quickly as possible.  They are not built to support water. Never turn a flat roof into a pool liner. 

You see roofs collapse from time to time because of a lack of maintenance to the scuppers. When the scuppers or roof drains are blocked, water collects and once you get enough of a load, the roof will come down. 



 I had my house texturecoated about 5 years ago. The contractor who put it on is out of business and the texture is falling off in sheets all over my house.  Should I just bite the bullet and sandblast it all off of there and go with something else? Thank you in advance,

Gary C.


Hi Gary,

Unfortunately, there is no saving this. At this point, you’ll have to take all of the stucco off down to the studs. 

Rip everything off and start from scratch. I’ll recommend a good stucco contractor if you write me privately. 

Based on the age of your house, if you have the means, now would be the time to replace your windows. If they are a single pane, go with an energy efficient dual pane.

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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