Robert Lamoureux: Electrical advice and below-ground leaks

Question No. 1

Hi Robert,

My name is John. I and some of my friends are avid readers of your article, and we often discuss some of your topics.

We all really appreciate the advice that you share, it has helped all of us at one time or another, so thank you for what you do.

We notice that you are an electrical contractor also, but you rarely touch on electrical issues. We’re wondering why, just out of curiosity, that is.

John M.

Answer No. 1

John,

The problem with electrical is that it is unforgiving, so I have to be very selective about what I guide people to do or even suggest that they do.

I do receive questions about different repairs or installations but I am cautious about guidance. I could give perfect instruction to someone, but if they don’t have a good understanding of the dangers or the need to follow the steps exactly, there could be dangerous situations that happen, and I certainly don’t want to induce harm to anyone.

Electrical, as I said, is unforgiving — so one small error or misstep could cause severe situations of many different kinds. The minute a flash panel (this is the interior second panel that you see, when you open the electrical panel to your home) is opened, the exposure to high voltage is present and if you are not educated on how to handle this or even how to properly protect yourself, you could be in grave danger.

I generally refer folks to a licensed and insured electrician when the situation calls for it, it is always the safer bet for everyone involved. I hope this helps explain.

Robert

Question No. 2

We have a below-ground garage that is leaking on the interior two walls.

On the exterior, there are planters with dirt below. We have had three contractors out here and all three have different opinions. Given the pics I sent you of the interior and the exterior, what is your opinion of what we should do?

We are not a wealthy HOA and must fix this, but can’t be broke either.

Mary R.

Answer No. 2

Mary,

Based on the finances and the enormity of the problem, I would recommend using an epoxy injection system to the affected areas and attempt to resolve the problem that way. The crew will come in and core (approximately) half-inch holes into the wall and inject and epoxy that will travel behind the wall attempting to seal the water behind the dirt, not allowing it to enter the garage.

This is not a 100 percent fool-proof repair, but a good attempt at stopping the water.

If you use a reputable company, they are pretty good at stopping the majority of the leaks. Sometimes negative waterproofing is an option but if you were to try a negative waterproofing here, this would encapsulate the water which would allow the re- bar to sit in water 24/7, exacerbating the rusting of the steel.

If the steel is allowed to sit in the water like that, then you will get a condition called spalling, where the steel rusts and expands and then blows the inner face of the block wall off.

This is then structural damage and over time can become extremely hazardous and very costly. Give the epoxy a try here, it may buy you some time to allow the HOA to gather funds in order to do a more permanent repair at a future date.

Good luck,

Robert

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.

This post was last modified on July 13, 2018, 4:53 pm

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