Your Home Improvement



I live in Valencia and am on a Board of Directors for an HOA were we have underground garages which have two trash rooms.

The doors to these trash rooms are continually getting destroyed and we are considering taking the doors off in order to not have to deal with the perpetual damage.

In each trash room there is a fire sprinkler, so we are confident that in the event of a fire, it would be taken care of.

What are the rules on this; is this even remotely an option?

– John M.


Absolutely not, you cannot remove those doors.

That is a fire-rated room and the purpose of the doors is to not introduce air to a potential fire, but to help suffocate it. Between that and the sprinkler system, a potential fire could become a deadly issue to the remaining parts of the building.

Without a photo I can only surmise that this is a typical trash chute door with a slide.

In the event of a fire, the way the door is released is that there is a little piece of lead that is pulling the door open on a piece of wire. When the lead melts from the fire, being gravity-fed, the door will slide closed and will help prevent the fire from spreading upwards into the building.

Often times this kind of damage to the doors happens due to the trash company not being cautious enough during pickup.

My strongest recommendation is to replace or repair the doors, take extensive photographs of the new doors, and call in a trash company representative. Put them on notice that the doors are new and that they are expected to stay in good condition, without damage from the workers operating the trucks or maneuvering the dumpsters.

It’s rare that a person could cause such damage, and unless your residents are crashing their cars into the doors. It is likely the trash company.

When the trash company is put on notice, they generally notify their crew and become more careful.

Another note for you, do not put door stops onto these doors, it can defeat the purpose when someone uses the stop and does not replace the door to the original position. If a fire happened, the door would be stopped in the open position and unable to operate as designed. Good luck to you.


I’m not sure if you can help; I’ve sent photos that are clear for your review.

I live in Santa Clarita and about 9-10 months ago I have had concrete poured on my driveway and around my pool deck.

The big heavy rains hit and since then, my driveway looks like the surface of the moon with heavy craters like the size of golf balls. This is around my pool deck also, and there is rust everywhere.

I contacted the concrete contractor and he went after the concrete company. They then went after the supplier of the product and everyone continues to point the finger at one another, but I am still left with my property in this condition and I’m terrified.

All of the money I had available went into that project and I don’t have a ton of money to be fighting people for what they should be doing right by.

Who ultimately do I go after first, who is truly responsible?

– John


Your direct hire was the concrete contractor; therefore this is who you deal with.

I hope you verified his license and insurance prior to the work, and you can always begin with letting him know that he needs to handle it swiftly and correctly, or you will be contacting the Contractor State License Board and notifying them of his lack of proper response.

This will usually put them into action, if they care about their licensing.

He will then have the responsibility to fight beyond, for what he needs to recover. This is what the liability insurance we carry is for, though, and hopefully, you hired someone that actually has it.

It sounds like there is way too much iron in the aggregate on this project. I recommend that you take swift action and get this underway as quickly as possible; the sooner the better is always best.

Hopefully that route will get you a proper fix to this, it all needs to come out and be repoured and refinished. Good luck to you.

Hi Robert,

I own two side-by-side apartment buildings, photos attached of my subjects.

My handyman opened stucco and found drywall on the outside of the building, I’ve never seen that before, nor has he, and he’s been doing this for over 30 years. What is this for?


Those are fire breaks. Stucco has a two-hour fire rating, and often, per the fire department, the architect will call for additional fire protection and in this location. It helps to protect the adjoining building, giving it additional time before a fire could penetrate.

You’ve got the inner drywall, then outer drywall and then paper and stucco, each of which have a certain fire rating. You put them all in layers so to speak, and you are additionally protected.

I hope this helps with understanding, and I recommend that you engage the city so they are aware of proper protocol in the put back. Each step needs to be completed per standard, so that the protection is put back into place properly. 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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