Maintenance for Valves, Decks



I am the board president at a property in Van Nuys.

We had a pump installed last year and it was barely keeping up with the needs during the rain, and water backed up in the parking garage.

How do we know the proper size pump that we need to replace this with? How can we be sure that the replacement pump will handle all of the water that may enter the affected area? We are ok

with doing this once again but we want it to be right this time.

Egor S.



I recommend that you either contact a contractor that works with pumps or you can contact the manufacturer directly, they’ll give you their sizing charts. Everything is derived on head pressure, which is rise and run.

Hypothetically, from the bottom of the pit out to street level, that rise may be 3-foot, 5-foot or 6-foot, for example. The run would be the horizontal distance from the pit to the street or culvert, wherever the water would discharge to.

Mathematically, the manufacturer accounts for the rise, the run and the diameter of the discharge pipe, and they calculate the size of the pump needed. All of this information will help to determine exactly what size pump is needed, and once you install the required size GPM (gallons per minute) pump, then it will work intermittently as designed.

An undersized pump will continue to work without a break because it can’t discharge enough at one time, thus endless use and a premature burn out.

Be sure that your sump pump pit is cleaned out annually, and know that this debris is considered hazardous waste. This may not be disposed of into the storm channel, so be certain that whomever you have provide this sump pump service is discharging the debris in the correct fashion.

Also, be sure that there is an in line check valve installed so that the water is prevented from returning to the vault once it’s discharged. I’ve seen many times where a valve is not installed, and the pump then oscillates back and forth. The check valve essentially is a stop sign within the pipe, preventing the water from returning back to the pump. Between the pump and the check valve there should be a three-eighths of an inch hole drilled to keep the pump from getting air locked, this is critical.

If your pump becomes air locked, it stops working and you’ll have a mess on your hands. I don’t recommend a handyman perform this, I’d definitely choose a licensed plumber but if your board insists on a handyman then be sure all factory recommendations are followed.

Good luck,




I’m on a board of directors here in Santa Clarita where there are four other board of director’s members who, for lack of a better way of saying it, always take the cheap way out.

Last year, we had leaks and my unit was also affected. We park under our building, we have a big concrete slab and our building is on top of that.

We had water in our home, and they hired a handyman to solve the issue. He built this concrete berm on the patio and he ran it up the wall about two inches. He said that this would keep the water out of our house, but of course, we’ve since had more water intrusion.

I’m frustrated, and now they’re instructing him to put some sort of rubberized spray can stuff that you can spray onto this berm, and say that this will now fix the problem. I attached photos of what’s been done, can you tell me if this is going to solve the problem?

Brian G.



Absolutely not.

The installation of this “berm” — what we call a curb — has now covered up the wall-to-deck flashing, along with the weep screed.

I’m able to see in the photos that you sent, this decking system and the flashings, and I can tell you that this is creating a bigger mess.

You’ve now gotten more water because the water that is supposed to go through the stucco, down the paper, hit the flashing and weep screed and be directed away from the wall, is now trapped behind this curb. It won’t just stop there, water will take the path of least resistance and in this case, it’s heading into your home. Your decking system is in at best, deplorable condition and this entire system needs replacing.

During decking replacement on an area such as this, the stucco all around the deck area will need to be opened up and all new wall-to-deck flashing needs to be installed. If the paper under the stucco is good, then you’ll be safe but there are many cases where the stucco is opened and there is no good paper found, which means that additional stucco needs to be opened until good paper can be found and tied into.

Be prepared for this. When a property has been let go which is what this looks like, there is often much deterioration that happens due to the water intrusion over time, and the rotting that happens. It’s good for you to know this also, because whomever you hire for this work should be noting the same thing in their proposal to you, that this is a possibility.

Responsible members of your board of directors, or your property manager, should be watching over your contractor and making sure that this step is not missed, because the water intrusion would continue. The paper is there to stop the water and guide it downward to the weep screed so if the paper is bad, there are many entry points for the water.

It’s a lot of information, Brian, but all very necessary to know in order to move forward and get this repaired properly, once and for all. Your board of directors is going to have to decide to spend some money on this all at once, or they’re going to nickel and dime it all away putting repetitive bandages on it. The remediation alone can cost a fortune, and we all know that water intrusion and the potential of mold is significant. Stay on it and be sure that they do the right thing.

Good luck to you,


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