Robert Lamoureux: External fire protection, screening out the sun

Installing outside window screens can help you keep your home cooler.

Question No. 1
Hi Robert,
I have been reading your column in The Signal for as long as you have been writing it. It’s very informative and enjoyable. I live in Canyon Country in a fire hazard zone. I’m interested in looking into an external fire protection system for my house. Do you have any recommendations regarding the various systems that are available, and can you recommend a trusted professional with whom I could speak? Thanks, and please keep up the good work.
— Skip C.

Answer No. 1
Thank you for being a loyal reader. There’s always a first and this is it for your question. I don’t know anything about your property, so I’ll speak in general terms. If you happen to have a pool, an external roll away fire pump works well if you’re able to get to it during a fire. Some people pipe the exterior of their roofs with rain bird type sprinklers that are attached to the house domestic water and can be activated by the turn of a knob. Keeping the brush away from the house as the Fire Department recommends is a huge deterrent. If your roof is the old wooden shingle type I’d change that out. Don’t stack any flammable material around the house, such as firewood and any flammable materials. Probably the most important thing is to be sure you are covered by the proper insurance to cover your losses. I’m not one to play in areas I’m not trained in. I personally would walk away and let the authorities do their job. Loss of life is NOT worth it to me — material things can be replaced. I hope this helps a little. Good luck.
— Robert

Question No. 2
We have some western facing windows that take a huge hit from the sun. A year ago, I believe you recommended a newer window covering that adhered to the outside of the window to keep the room cooler from the sun. I believe it is professionally installed. Please advise. We had some in our office building to protect against graffiti but, unfortunately, our California sun turned it an unattractive white color on the eastern side of the building. It was difficult removing the film after a number of years. We would not want this on the house. Thank you,
— Carol Q.

Follow-up: After I sent the email, I remembered it was a screen. Would this be the same solution for fixed windows that do not open?

Answer No. 2
Yes, they are Sun Screens, and yes, they can be used for stationary windows also.
— Robert

Question No. 3
I have always read your Signal articles with interest and am glad that you are writing them once again. A quick question on your last article on concrete resurfacing. You mention the “dyed concrete option” for resurfacing concrete. Is that the same as applying concrete stain to an existing concrete pad? Best regards,
— Joe K.

Answer No. 3
Thank you for reading The Signal. The staining is exactly that, a deep penetrating stain to the existing surface of your concrete. There are overlays that can be applied, also. This is a thin layer of concrete applied to the concrete surface with a pattern applied to the top along with a dye mixed into the concrete. The only problem with overlays is if a lot of water is introduced to it on a daily basis, the water will cause the system to fail in those areas. The overlay will spall. Spalling is a lifting of the system off its original application. Best of 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 [email protected].

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