Robert Lamoureux: Replace light fixture with LED; cinder block wall

Courtesy photo

Question No. 1

Hello Robert,

I have two light fixtures in the garage. They both turn on/off with the same switch. One of the lights was not working one day, so I went and bought a light bulb. When I replaced the light bulb, the light did not turn on. So I put the new light bulb in the other fixture, and it worked there.

My guess is that the whole electrical box for the light is not working, but since I’m not an expert, I was wondering if you’d be able to recommend a good electrician to solve this problem.

I have attached some pictures of the light fixtures.

— Elisa

Answer No. 1


The reason the bulb didn’t light is that the ballast is shot and needs replacing.

Given the new technology of LED, I would strongly recommend you replace the entire fixture with a new LED one.

This will save on power as well as the longevity of the fixture in comparison to the fluorescent one that’s there now.

The fixture can be purchased at any large box store and, then, if you are unable, a handyman can install it for you.

Good luck.

— Robert

Question No. 2


What do you know or what’s your opinion on crack stitching a cinder block wall that has cracks? (Please see pictures.)

Using the stainless helical rods with an epoxy resin bond seems like it might work. We want to either paint or cover this wall with stone after the repairs have been done to prevent any further cracking.

The existing ugly pink wall will not be seen after we cover it up. We do not have the budget for a wall tear-down and rebuild.

I can manage a lot of the repairs myself. I’m just curious to know if crack stitching is a big waste of time. Please advise me on this.

Thanks for all the years of your awesome home advice. We read your column religiously every week.

— Terry V.

Answer No. 2


Thank you for being a loyal reader of The Signal.

Stitching is used as a last resort, in my opinion.

When budget is the issue, then this is fine, if the wall isn’t too far gone. But always keep in mind safety, when doing a temp repair like this.

The repair may not last too long if the source of the causation is not addressed. Be sure to find the reason why the wall has flexed like this, causing the stair-stepping of the block. Generally, it’s an upthrust that causes this, such as tree roots.

If you are going to the extreme of putting a veneer on this wall, you may want to repair the source and affected area that is damaged, so as to not have failure a year from now.

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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