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Robert Lamoureux: Do it once, do it right, replace

Posted: May 12, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: May 12, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Hi Robert,

I’m a board member of a (homeowner’s) association and we’ve got a lot of trip hazards on our sidewalks. We have received several bids for the repair of these areas, but there is a large disparity among bids as some are recommending grinding and others replacing. We can save less than half by grinding, but I’d like to get an idea of the pros and cons before proceeding. Thank you,

Jeremy K.


Hi Jeremy,

The pros of grinding — fast and cheap.  It costs much less to grind than to sawcut, demo, haul away, cut out tree roots, reform, pin with steel, epoxy, repour and finish.   

The cons are: it will scarify the surface of the concrete. Aesthetically, it looks bad. Grinding is considered to be a temporary fix as the cause of the raised concrete, which is usually tree roots, is not addressed. 

The roots will keep growing and the affected section of concrete will eventually raise and become a trip hazard once again. 

You’ll continue to grind until the concrete becomes so thin, that it has to be cut out and repoured, which is what should have been done originally. 

I say look at the big picture. Bite the bullet and have the section and roots cut out and repaired properly. Do it once, do it right.


Hi Robert,

We recently had a sliding door installed on our back patio. During the last rain, no water got into the house, but there was about 1/4” of water that came inside the bottom track. I don’t think it is supposed to do that. I paid extra for a Milgard door and don’t want any problems. Looking forward to your opinion,

Juan M.


Hi Juan,

It was a little cold during the last rain. If you had your heat on, then the warmth from your home in conjunction with the cool external air would cause condensation. 

The moisture would roll down the glass and into the track. In this case, no, that would not be uncommon.  That’s the purpose of having weep holes in the track so that this condensation can be evacuated.

If the water came in from a wind driven rain or water sheeting down, then it sounds like there is a problem with the door. Or, it could just be that the weep holes are obstructed.

Fortunately, Milgard has one of the best customer service departments anywhere. Call them and they will send out one of their reps for an inspection. 


Hi Robert,

Our living room has stained glass windows which allow air to come through the lead pieces and the glass.  What can we do to seal that?  I enjoy your column.  

Rosie G.


Hi Rosie,

There is a glazing putty available from leaded glass supply houses. There’s one in the San Fernando Valley that I will recommend to you privately. 

The putty is initially too rigid to work with so you’ll have to microwave it, per manufacturer’s specs, to make it malleable. 

Wear rubber gloves, apply it to the glass and seal. 

The supply house will also have cleaning compounds to remove any excess glazing putty from the glass. This process is very tedious and is going to take a little elbow grease. 

It takes a lot of work and that’s why stained glass installers command the kind of money they do.  

Hi Robert,

We have a pool that was leaking into our garage below. The concrete in the ceiling has started flaking off. Is this due to the water or age of the building (1982) or bad concrete? We would like to avoid this from happening again in the future.  Thank you,

Sam F.


Hi Sam,

Pool water is acidic which causes the rebar in the concrete to rust. When steel rusts, it expands which causes the concrete to flake off or spall. 

It’s crucial to stay on top of your waterproofing, especially when on top of a podium slab. There are a couple of things you need to do right away.  The first step would be to get a contractor out there with a chipping hammer and have him remove the damaged concrete from the ceiling. You don’t want any chunks falling on someone or a vehicle. 

Next, if you suspect your pool is leaking, you need to shut it down immediately. Drain the water out of it and learn what is causing the leak. Contact a structural engineer to determine the severity of the damages to the garage.

We just inspected a property with similar problems to what you are describing. They have an elevated deck with pool above a podium slab that’s been leaking for years. Their pool will be closed for the entire summer until the repairs are completed.


Hi Robert,

We have stamped concrete on the deck above our subterranean parking garage. We know the deck is leaking into the garage but we don’t see any signs of waterproofing. I’m sure it must be there because the leaks are recent. We would like advice on how to replace or install the best type of waterproofing. We would be very grateful for any suggestions you may have. Thank you very much,

Bernard C.


Hi Bernard,

If you were to look at a cross section, you would see 2” to 4” of the stamped concrete which is just an overlay and then the waterproofing layer which is applied to the top of the podium slab which is usually 10” to 14” inches thick depending on the load. 

It sounds like the waterproofing layer sandwiched between the stampcrete and the podium slab has failed.  This is not a good design as engineers recommend that this type of system be broken out every 10 years in order to replace the waterproofing. 

What I would recommend is to meet with a waterproofing contractor and the manufacturer’s representative. As many years as I’ve been doing this kind of work, whenever I’m faced with a situation you’re describing I will always meet with the manufacturer. The reps will explain the best material choices and the optimum application of those materials. 

Breaking out the deck to reapply waterproofing is a waste of money that will theoretically only be good for 10 years. 

Instead, I would bring in more concrete to level out the stampcrete deck, make it true, and then apply a fiberglass decking system on top of that. 

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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