Robert Lamoureux: Peeling paint and falling concrete

Robert Lamoureux has more than 40 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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Question No. 1
Hi Robert,

I am one of your longtime followers, who has received your advice on projects around my home for several years, that has helped me make the right decisions, before I made costly mistakes. I have the paint peeling off of the trim at the front of my home, and I see places where the 4-by-12-inch beam that supports part of the overhang near the front door, looks like it is rotten. The question is: Should I hire a contractor or a painter to give me, hopefully, an honest answer on what needs to be done? Maybe you can give me your opinion.
Thank you.
— Gerrie C.

Answer No. 1
Gerrie,

I remember you, of course. Thank you for being a loyal reader of The Signal. I would hire a painter, no reason to hire a general contractor for simple paint issues. The ridge beam in the first photo, if the rot hasn’t progressed too far into the beam you can cut the end off that is rotted and prime and paint. The remainder is in need of scraping and just using your common sense as they uncover issues. Be proactive with whoever you hire and have them physically show you if they unearth anything. Best of luck.
— Robert

Question No. 2
Robert,

I sit on a board of directors for an association where we have numerous subterranean garages. In one, the concrete ceiling had a large chunk fall down so a structural engineer was hired to determine the repairs needed. He’s now come back to us stating that we need some sort of deputy to be involved in the process so that he/she can witness the steel being replaced and that it is done properly. I’d appreciate your feedback on this before confirming please, so that we are not being taken advantage of here.
— John L.

Answer No. 2
John,

Yes, they are guiding you properly, there is such a thing and in this case you’ll have a concrete deputy on site. The general contractor is stating what the engineer has called out in his plan to make repairs, this is valid. It sounds like this will be the podium slab, which is below the condos in most cases, and is the structural support for the building.

The podium can be 14 inches thick and I’ve seen them as thick as 21 inches. The deputy will likely be on site during the coring process to assess and confirm work being done properly so that this podium slab retains the integrity needed to support the structure above. They will ensure that the coring is done and that the holes are blown out with high pressure air then a steel brush to clean them, repeating this process two or three times, until the deputy is satisfied that the area is prepped and ready for the next step.

If it is not cleaned properly then the epoxy that is used with the new rebar will fail and not bond to the hole. Any dust left, the epoxy will bond to that and will come loose vs sticking to the existing podium slab. The issue that causes the podium slab failure/spalling in the first place is the most important thing to tend to aside from the actual slab repairs.

Water is the culprit here — it has found a way through a failure of some sort above, and has been inside this slab for long enough to rust the steel, which in turn expands and forces the concrete to break as it has, called spalling.

Now is the time to find the failure in the waterproofing above and get that fixed properly for the longevity of this property. You’ll find contractors who will put a Band-Aid to this area, but unless you fix it right and give yourself many years here, you’ll be revisiting this before you know it.
— Robert

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