Your Home Improvements


Hi Robert,

I discovered my 50-gallon gas water heater sprang a major leak at the bottom last Friday evening.

My kids are grown and I no longer own a large vehicle to transport a new water heater, so I called around about getting one delivered. The quickest I could get one delivered was in three days.

So I called a licensed plumber that we had previously used for repairs and he said he could install a new replacement on Saturday for a set fee. We agreed to go ahead and let him do it.

The new unit was installed Saturday afternoon and so far is working fine. However, after it was installed, my wife’s relative mentioned we should check if we need a low NOx water heater.

I did some research on the internet and confirmed that our zip code is within SCAQMD jurisdiction and per SCAMQD Rule 1121 available online at it contains the quote below.

I checked the label on the front of the new water heater to find out the model number, i.e., Bradford White Model No. RG250T6N, and it clearly states on the label “does not comply w/jurisdictions having 10 ng/J NOx REGS”.

Per the quoted language below, as the installer, it would appear the plumber has some responsibility in complying with the rule. I like my plumber, and as I said, the unit is currently working fine. However, I am planning on retiring in the next two to three years and am concerned that this infraction may be discovered when I try to sell my house.

I would appreciate your advice on this matter.

-Sincerely, Tom D.


Thank you for being a reader.

This is a tricky situation being that you purchased your own equipment. My best advice to you would be for you to reach out to this plumber, especially since you’ve already got a working relationship with him, and talk to him about it.

There is no absolute in this situation, so do your best to communicate and see where you end up.

Best of luck to you, and for all of the readers, I recommend that when you are having a contractor do work on your property, have them supply all equipment/supplies, that way they are responsible for the entire job. Always remember too, be sure to work only with a licensed and insured contractor.

Hello Robert,

This is the first time I have emailed you but I’ve read your columns in The Signal for many years before you took a hiatus from them (which was too long). I am so glad your column is back in The Signal.

I learn something new every time I read your column….if only I could remember all that I read. So, thank you for educating and helping us homeowners.

I have a question which I don’t recall seeing in your column. I have to replace one clay roof tile. Is there a local place where I can buy only one piece?

It looks like a wavy tile and I can take a picture if that would help. Also, approximately how much would that cost?

Thank you for your time. Have a nice week.



Thank you for being a loyal reader. Please forward an address and our office will send you a coffee mug from IMS/The Signal. I’ve sent the recommendation privately. Good luck to you.


We have an irregularly-shaped pool. For some time now, either the pool has been sinking or the surrounding materials have been rising, presumably pushed up by roots although the trees are not particularly large (see attached picture attached).

Short of undertaking major surgery, my pool man suggests I should cut a sleeve, say max one-half inch, between the pool and the surrounding materials, and fill that with some weatherproof elastic emulsion. This would prevent further cracking.

What do you think?

-Patrick D., Stevenson Ranch


The broken piece in the photo is typically due to improper compaction under the concrete. Concrete is brittle and when load is applied to it with no support, this is what happens.

You can form, pin (pinning is coring and installing a couple pieces rebar in the good area) and pour a new piece back in place after you install new dirt and compact it well. Good luck with this project.

Hi Robert,

Our pool is 15 years old and has started to show cracks between the patio and the edge of the pool. Any input as to why and how to fix this?

We have a beach area that also shows cracks.

-Thanks, Joan D


The cold joint between the coping and the bond beam should have been filled with Dek O Tek.

This is a rubberized material that keeps the coping/deck and the bond beam from moving at two different rates and causing the cracking as I see in the pictures.

This is something the pool man can saw cut for you and then apply.

Dear Robert,

I really appreciate your advice very much.

After all the recent rain, we have a roof leak. Water is apparently running down the length of one of the interior garage walls onto the garage floor and there are wet spots on the garage ceiling. We could use a referral.

A couple roofing companies have been recommended by folks in our neighborhood. Do you think we should go with one of them or do you have someone you’d recommend instead?

I’ve read many times in your columns that it’s important to open the drywall and let things dry out. But, I think we’d like to have someone do it who knows what they’re doing.

-Thank you, Lee and Page L


The removal of the drywall is very simple if you have any type of ability.

As far as a referral, if your neighbors have referred the same company it’s probably a sure bet. I would use them. 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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