Your Home Improvements


Question #1

Robert, I purchased a brand new home in Stevenson Ranch. It will be one year old next month.

A few weeks ago, I noticed a large crack in the stucco at my front door. Since then, many cracks have appeared at the windows all along the front of my house.

I contacted the builder’s rep who said it was normal settling and they would patch and paint the cracks.

This is not my first new home and I have never had cracks like this before except after the Northridge earthquake.

Is this a cosmetic issue or a structural problem?

– Stacey M.

Answer #1

Stacey, Thank you for being one of our readers.

The first question I have is how wide are the cracks? If they’re hairline I have to agree that they are cosmetic and due to the building flexing.

I see this weekly on buildings and recommend that if the cracks are greater than hairline then I’d ask them to come in and investigate, but if not then I wouldn’t worry.

Some buildings flex more than others based on the framing or lack of framing, but usually it is just hairline and nothing to fret over.

I hope this answers your question, feel free to write back in if necessary.

Question #2

Hi Robert, You have helped me with a problem in the past, and I am hoping that you can advise me on my current situation.

My fireplace is made from brick and at some point, a past home owner covered those bricks with 12 x 12 marble tiles.

I now want to remove those and replace them with stacked stone. I have called three construction people who advertise in another publication. Two never called back and one did come over to give me a bid, but now is not returning my call after I have left him two messages.

I am wondering: “is my job too small for these larger construction firms?”

I know there is someone out there who is qualified and would want to do the job, but I am not sure where to look.

Do you have a recommendation of a person who I might contact?

– With appreciation, Mary S.

Answer #2

Mary, Good morning and thank you for being a loyal reader.

Please call Craig from Impressive Marble and Tile. He is the best at what he does and I use him often.

I believe Craig would do the stack stone for you, and if not then he’ll know who can.

I’m sure you won’t have issues with him returning your calls; he runs a great business – 818-519-6499. Best of luck to you.

Question #3

Hi Robert, I always look forward to your column and trusted advice. I have a couple of questions.

First, the water heater makes bumping (not rattling) noises (no real movement of the heater) after hot or cold water has been used. A plumber came out and changed the pressure valve for the incoming water line to the house, but it continues to make the noises.

It’s pretty loud, enough to be heard inside. Could it just be the heating of the water? It’s set at a moderate temp.

If it is just the heating of the water, I’m concerned that the action may accelerate the decline of the heater or cause a leakage.

Secondly, attached is a picture of my roof.

A roving (house-to-house) contractor stopped and explained the shine is due to the wear on the shingles and that the fiberglass (?) beneath the worn edges is reflecting the light… the conclusion being that a new roof is necessary.

Is this true?

The roof is about 20 years old. I’m not sure how to tell if a roof needs replacement.

I would appreciate your thoughts and insights to the questions.

–Thanks, Don

Answer #3

Hi Don, Thanks for being a reader. The noise sounds like it’s an old heater and the tank is expanding and contracting, which is normal in an older heater.

The expansion is what’s making the noise as the metal is moving.

If the heater is nearing 10 years I’d consider replacing it before it goes out on you.

My luck, it would go out on Christmas Day, Lol!

The roof is clearly worn out and is at its life expectancy, as I can see in the photo.

You can probably buy another year or so on it, but I would have a maintenance done on all the roof penetrations to minimize any leaks to the interior for the meantime.

Penetrations meaning the roof vents, chimney flashing and any other material that penetrates the roof area. Don, best of 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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