Leak detection and rust issues

Leak detection and rust issues

Question No. 1

Hi Robert,

I need your help quickly, please.

I have called off the service that was scheduled for doing a water test to my home, because they showed up and said they were going to start cutting holes into my walls.

No one told me that this would happen, and I’m uncertain if this is necessary. I obviously need to get the issue figured out, to know where the leak is coming from and how to fix it, but is it necessary to cut holes into the walls? Is there any other way to find out where the issue is coming from? I know you have many years’ experience so I’ll trust what you tell me, just hoping that this won’t be opening a can of worms.

Thank you in advance, for your help!

Robert C.

Answer No. 1


Unfortunately, if you don’t let the leak detection contractor open walls, you could have a can of worms and more, eventually.

Since we can’t see through walls, there is no way to see something such as a pinhole leak in a pipe. That’s just one example of what could be an issue, there can be many other things found behind drywall that could be the source.

Note that a good leak-detection company will be conservative in the amount of holes they open, how large the holes are and the cutting of those holes.

They should be neat and clean cuts so when it comes time for drywall repair, the drywall tech doesn’t have to do additional work to clean up a disaster. With experience, we can often “guess” where a leak might be within a few feet, once we start the troubleshooting process. That’s not a guarantee, but if you’re choosing someone with a lot of experience they usually can be more conservative with opening holes.

Definitely get this taken care of sooner rather than later because with the perfect conditions, mold can grow quickly.

Good luck to you,


Question No. 2

I have several concrete areas at my house that show rust and it keeps returning no matter what I do to the surface.

I’ve attached photos so you can see the issue, and hopefully guide me on how to get rid of this and why it is even happening.

Any ideas, please?


Answer No. 2


You’ll need to clean the area thoroughly with a product from a place such as Sherwin Williams. I don’t usually toss out company names, however they have a fantastic rust cleaner.

Get that and also a penetrating steel sealer that actually goes through the concrete to seal the rebar and disallow the rebar to continue rusting and bleeding through to the surface. You’ll start by pressure washing the driveway extremely well, and follow that up with cleaning the surface.

Discuss this with the folks at the time of purchase, and follow their and their manufacturer’s instructions to the “T.” Be sure to not skip steps including drying times in between if required, the steps matter for the products to work as designed.

Then apply, per manufacturer specs, the penetrating sealer and be sure that on the sloped part of your driveway you are controlling the liquid so that it is not running into the street and into the drainage system.

Be very careful of this. Essentially this sealer wraps itself around the rebar so that it discontinues rusting and bleeding through. This should take care of the issue for you.

Good luck,


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@

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