Your Home Improvements


Question #1

Robert, I live in Santa Clarita and recently had some fencing replaced and then some fencing taken down, sand blasted, powder coated, and then re-installed.

All of the new fencing is fine, but the old fencing that was powder coated is blistering, much like a water blister on your skin.

I don’t understand how this can be happening because the outside of the powder coat looks fabulous, but it is literally blistering.

Can you explain what is happening and what can be done about this, please? -Jose M.

Answer #1

Jose, this is likely what your issue is, and it’s actually quite simple.

Iron fencing is usually hollow; you’ll rarely find solid steel wrought iron due to the cost.

With hollow tubing what happens due to extreme temperature differences such as 100 degree days and 50 degree nights, condensation builds up inside the tubing and thus, rusting begins.

As these tubes rust from the inside it literally grows like a cancer and eventually shows itself with these physical signs like the bubbling/blistering you see.

Other factors are exterior moisture such as irrigation and standing water.

Many times the posts are set directly into the soil which causes moisture and deterioration, and if irrigation is not kept from the iron, there you have another factor.

There’s not much you can do at this point, aside from replacing it.

I would not move forward with re-powder coating this. You’ll spend more wisely by replacing and ensuring that the new installation has the best chance at longevity by protecting it from all outside moisture factors that you can. Good luck.

Question #2

Hi Robert, I live in Canyon Country and though I read your column and have for quite some time, I went against your advice due to a lack of funds, and hired a handy man for electrical issues I was having.

He came and opened up drywall and actually fixed the issue; it’s all working fine but now I have a question.

The issue was due to burned wires and he cut out the bad section, used those plastic connector things and tape, and now I see big black balls of tape at both ends of where he made the repairs.

He says we are good now and he can close the drywall but I’m terrified of fires and want to know if what he’s done is ok.

Please help. -Monica Z.

Answer #2

No Monica, this is absolutely not OK and should not be closed up until it is repaired properly by a licensed and insured electrician.

If you haven’t paid this guy I wouldn’t, and would fire him immediately and learn from this experience.

Any time you have a connection, it must be done in a UL fire rated box.

You’ll now need to have a new line run from either a single or double gang box that is nearest this burned wire area, and replace the length of wire, which will likely mean opening additional drywall.

This is what should have been done in the first place and is necessary for a proper repair.

Good job questioning this and not moving forward with closing it, until you are satisfied.

I’d only use this guy for minor repairs, nothing that requires licensing such as plumbing and electrical.

The law states that a handy man can only do work valued with labor and materials, at $500.00/day. Anything in excess to this is a situation where the law is being broken and you should be wary of who you’ve hired.

Good luck to you.

Question #3

Robert, I live in Valencia with a large driveway of pavers.

I’ve noticed that there is quite a bit of movement, with much of the sand that was originally there is gone.

There are also weeds growing in between some of them, and I know I need to tend to this as well as replace the sand.

What is the fastest and easiest way to get these pavers back in their proper position, and get the replacement sand down into the cracks?

I’ve never seen this done and would like to have this as one of my weekend warrior projects, and thought you’d have some good advice for me. – David G.

Answer #3

David, it is quite simple, actually.

Go to your local building supply house if the big box stores don’t carry this – you’ll be looking for silica sand.

The next step is to go to your local rental yard and rent what is called a vibra plate.

This is a big, flat plate with a motor on top; it can fit into the back of a pickup truck.

It’s quite heavy, it’ll take two men to load and offload.

Once you are ready to get started, begin by disbursing the silica sand over the areas that are in need, at about ½-inch thick, working in about a 4-6 square foot area.

Make sure that you keep the sand thick enough to keep the vibra plate off of the pavers directly.

Also, as this machine vibrates some of the sand into the cracks you’ll have to add more.

Once this area is filled, move your excess sand on to the next area adding enough to keep the vibra plate, once again, from being directly on the pavers.

Continue this process until all of the area is done.

Now lightly wet the area, and repeat if necessary.

The most important thing, though, is to keep your sand thick enough so that the vibra plate does not damage your pavers by scratching them.

It’s a relatively simple process, and should go pretty quickly for you.

Good luck.

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 [email protected].

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