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Robert Lamoureux: Solar screens a solution to heat

Your Home Improvements

Posted: August 25, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 25, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Solar screens prevent up to 90 percent of the sun’s heat from entering your home. Solar screens prevent up to 90 percent of the sun’s heat from entering your home.
Solar screens prevent up to 90 percent of the sun’s heat from entering your home.


Can you advise us on this topic? The sun shines directly on two glass doors in our den. Will some type of screen doors solve the heat problem? We have only one screen, on the non-sliding window.

Thank you for a response and any suggestion you may have.

Dan H.

Hi Dan,

Solar screens prevent up to 90 percent of the sun’s radiant heat from entering your home.

This not only translates into energy savings but also gives you more privacy. Screens make it more difficult to see into your home while providing nice visibility from the inside out.

There are several options available in installing solar screens. One is to remove the old screen from the frame and replace with solar screen mesh available at your larger hardware stores. At about 70 cents per square foot it is very inexpensive.

Remove the screen and frame from the door. Remove the spline which is the rubber gasket that fits into the groove around the perimeter of the frame that holds the screen in place.

Overlay the new solar mesh on top of the frame. Secure the mesh to the frame by replacing the spline with a spline tool. Taping the opposite sides of the door will help keep the mesh in place.

The same process can be used on all the screens at your home. This option may be the most effective because the screen blocks the heat before ever reaching the window.

For doors or windows without screens, you can attach a pull-down solar shade mounted on the inside.

The shade is attached with a pair of brackets. Most have a decorative fascia plate that snaps over the brackets and roller for a finished look.

Hi Robert

Congratulations on five years of very interesting writing.

Two years ago we had our pool re-plastered. We have been very careful to follow instructions on brushing and chemical balance.

Gray and white blotches and streaks have appeared, more obvious in shade than sun. Also, a super-white area around a rope hook where the plaster was built up higher than the wall with a small trowel.

Web research reveals much finger-pointing between plasterers, pool techs, and research organizations ( is interesting). I work in the concrete industry and know that natural materials can give variable results.

Is there anything we can do to make the plaster more uniform in appearance? Thank you,

Dave S.

Hi Dave,

Thank you. Like you said, there are variables that can contribute to inconsistencies with the finish. Natural product, application and even the chemical balance can cause discoloration.

There’s no way of telling beforehand how deeply it is stained, but if it’s only at the surface, this method will help.

Drain the pool and lightly sand the gray areas. Sand by hand or with a power sander, but be careful not to go too deep.

You don’t want to hit the gunite. If by hand, use a sanding paddle and a pole to keep it uniform. Then acid wash. Again, if the stain is only at the surface, then you should see some good results.

Remember when using acid, wear a respirator, goggles, gloves, long sleeves and long pants with boots. Don’t take any shortcuts on your safety.

Hi Robert,

I live near a junior high school. I have a block wall that is next to a sidewalk that is a main thoroughfare for students to walk to school.

It is no exaggeration that at least twice a week I will find more broken caps on the top of my wall. I am so tired of replacing these caps. I’m not a contractor and don’t have the time or the money to keep repairing this wall.

Can you think of anything I can do to prevent these kids from knocking the caps off?

Mike D.

Hi Mike,

You can replace the caps with what we call a trowel cap. This is made from a simple mortar mix of cement and sand. Remove the existing caps and fill any voids.

Put the mortar on top of the wall and use a rounded cap trowel which is available at any large hardware store.

Drag the trowel over the mortar and it spreads it in a half-circle cap. Once it dries, you’ll need a hammer to take it off.

It would be best to do this on a Friday or Saturday to give it all weekend to dry. You’ll be good by the time the school bell rings Monday morning.


I am going to put in a roof over my front and rear porch. My question is since the areas are so small, is this something that I will need permits for or can I just go ahead and do it?

Andy G.

Hi Andy,

I don’t really have enough information to provide an accurate answer. I don’t know the dimensions. Is it wood or aluminum?

The best thing to do would be to go down to your local Department of Building and Safety.

If you live in Santa Clarita, and I know I’ve said it over and over again, but they are so streamlined and homeowner friendly it’s a pleasure to work with them.

Just take a sketch with dimensions and go up to the counter. There’s a chance that you will need permits, but talk to the city. They will tell you what you need.

Hello Robert,

I’m a property manager and have just picked up a new property with underground parking. They have metal pans attached to the ceiling of the garage with PVC pipe draining onto the floor. Do you know what this is for? Thanks,

Paul C.

Hi Paul,

They are band-aids. You’ve got a pool, common area planters or decks that are leaking down through the podium slab and into the garage.

They put those pans up to prevent the water from dripping on cars or pedestrians.

This is going to create a two-fold problem in the near future.

One, the slab is not poured with underwater concrete and is not designed for constant water exposure.

If not corrected, the concrete will fail, spall and fall.

Second, the drainage from the PVC will eventually become mossy and very slippery for the residents which will create slip and fall conditions.

I recommend you contact a general contractor with experience in waterproofing.

Have them perform a water test to determine the source of the leak and then proceed with the repair.

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 questions to


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