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Question #1

I live here in Valencia and own a two story home. In the middle of the second floor there is a bulge about four feet in diameter, it looks like a big ball that is poking out the side of the building by at least two inches. This is a smooth finish stucco and I’ve never seen anything like this. What could be causing something like that? Jack R.

Answer #1

Jack, typically this is going to be improper nailing which allows the lathing to essentially let go of the building. If there aren’t enough nails set in the proper places, the lathing, which looks something like a chicken wire, is allowed to pull away from the building during extremes in the elements. The heat will often affect the materials and if this lath isn’t properly secured, it will start to “fall”, and the only place for it to go is out and down. This is when you see what you are seeing there. The only way to fix this is to break out the defective area and redo it. I strongly recommend a licensed and insured contractor and would go with a stucco company, as they specialize in this and with a smooth finish, it is tricky to match. Once they have this area opened, ask them to show you the nailing pattern that is there, vs. what it should be. I can almost guarantee that this is the cause of the issue here, and hope that this is the only area that you encounter this lack of workmanship. The biggest thing they’ll have to do is color match. Especially if the color has faded, it will be harder to match and they may have to end up painting the whole elevation for a perfect match. The finish will be matched, these guys are professional and do this all of the time. The paint however, is trickier. Good luck with this.

Question #2

Hi Robert, I live in the old part of Valencia and about two or three months ago I had my handyman come and replace the water line for my air conditioner because it was leaking. You can see in the pictures, he replaced the section with a new piece of PVC. Since then, at night especially, this makes weird noises like “popping” or “gurgling”. I’m at my wits’ end with this, having checked everywhere I can think of to find the source and am unable. It is definitely coming from that area, this I know. Can you look at the photo and tell me what you think this could be from? Carol Z.

Answer #2

Carol, yes this is apparent, your handyman didn’t put an air gap right there where it comes out. You should have a “tee” fitting, with the top of that “tee” open, on the top. The air gap allows air to enter, which then allows for a smooth and quiet exit of the condensation. The best example I can give you would be to refer to the emptying of a milk jug. Turn the milk jug completely upside down, and it will “gurgle” as it empties, because there is no air getting into the jug. Allow it to empty more slowly where air is able to enter (holding this jug on its side vs. upside down), and you’ll have a nice smooth, quiet exit of the milk. Same principle here with the AC line, there needs to be that air gap in order for the condensation to move smoothly out of that line. You’ll need to have your guy come back out and install a “tee” immediately after the 90 comes out of the unit. Be sure that the opening faces the ceiling, and this will allow the air to enter the line and give a smooth and quiet flow. My best advice, as always, is for everyone to hire the correct person for the job. Any time you are having work done on an expensive unit such as an air conditioner, water heater, electrical panel and even your car, I recommend that you should be investing in knowledgeable people so that you are most likely getting the proper work done. I would go with no one less than a licensed and insured A/C contractor for such work, even though it is likely more costly for the visit.

Robert Lamoureux has 38 years of experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contracting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, 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. Email questions to Robert at robert@imsconstruction.com.

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