Robert Lamoureux: remote thermostat and more water trouble

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Hi Robert

I always enjoy your article in The Signal. We have a Valencia home built in 1966 and are interested in installing a remote thermostat that we can control via our Google Home as well as our smartphones but it sounds like most thermostats can’t be installed in older homes.

Can you recommend one that we can install without hiring an electrician?

We are also interested in changing some of our light switches to be remote, as well. Some are dimmer, some two-way, some control ceiling fans and some are just single switches.

Are there types that I can order and install myself?

Thanks so much for any info.

— Bob

Bob,

Thank you for being a reader of the signal. I would start by contacting Honeywell, they were the originator of the Wi-Fi stats and they can better guide you as to what will and will not work, rather than trying to do that hit and miss at the store level.

I have a lot of experience with Honeywell, they’re great about getting right back to you.

Regarding your lights, if you’re handy — and it sounds like you are — then hit any of the big box stores, and they can guide you as to which switches would best fit your application.

I’m sorry that I’m being so general, I don’t want to misguide you given I don’t know the configuration of your home.

If you elect to do your own electrical, please be sure to shut down the breakers that you will be working on. Never work on this stuff live, even though it’s only 120 V. Best of luck, Bob.

— Robert

Hi Robert,

My name is Trevor J., and I’m a relatively new homeowner here in Canyon Country. We have a planter that is against the stucco wall of our home and during the rains it filled with water. We ended up with water in the house. I drilled a hole to relive the water, but it still kept entering the bedroom.

I reached under the stucco, where I could see a metal thing with holes where some of the holes were filled with concrete and some not. I proceeded to fill the rest of the holes with concrete but in the next heavy rain I ended up with a worse mess.

What is going on here? Were those holes NOT supposed to be filled with concrete?
— Trevor

Trevor,

First of all, there should have never been a planter box put up against a stucco wall that hasn’t been waterproofed, for this very reason.

They’ve just used the stucco as a fourth wall to this planter and obviously not done their due diligence with the stucco work, and plugged up the holes that are there to release water.

The metal piece that you are talking about is called a weep screed. It is designed to take water that has penetrated the stucco, which is porous, let it run down the waterproofing paper, and redirect it away from the house.

The holes are there for the water to drip out of. So, with them all being plugged up now, this is inviting the water to enter. I strongly urge you to hire a licensed stucco company to redo this lower elevation in its entirety, including installation of a new weep screed and a proper tie-in to the existing paper, if it is good.

Know that once they open the stucco, if they find that the paper behind the stucco is not good, they will need to continue to open additional stucco until they do find good paper. There is no way to close this unless you have quality paper meeting quality paper.

Any failure of waterproofing paper is another source for water to enter.

You’ll often see more paper deterioration on a sunny side of the home over a period of years, the weather ultimately speeds up the deterioration process.

If you’re going to keep this planter box, you’ll want to have it waterproofed while they are at it. They’ll excavate as necessary and prep the surface to receive a quality waterproofing product. Once dry, they’ll install a special foam board, which will be there to protect the waterproofing membrane from damage.

Any time you or a landscaper are working within this planter, you’ll need to use caution to not damage the waterproofing or you could end up with similar leaking issues. Good luck to you.

— 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 [email protected]

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