Archive for May, 2013|Monthly archive page

Replacing Seals on Aluminum Windows / Leaking Pressure Relief Valve / Will Ivy Damage Exterior Brick?

In Uncategorized on May 23, 2013 at 11:36 am


I have a house with aluminum “thermal” windows. The seals on several of the windows have broken as well as a door-wall. I would like to replace them but it seems as if no one is making aluminum thermal windows. I can’t believe that even in a matching color vinyl would look right. Do you know of a company who still makes aluminum windows?


No one makes them for a good reason. They were terrible. The aluminum was a conductor of cold and “sucked” heat from your house. At the time they were considered efficient. But today we know a lot more. There are several quality window companies that are also excellent, few of which are Eagle, Marvin, Anderson and Pella. There are other quality windows (which are a lot less expensive) including some manufacturers right in our area. My favorite is Wallside.

You don’t have to replace your windows. The aluminum sash can remain and new multiple seals replaced. But do you want to go to all that expense for older windows that aren’t efficient? Are the windows working properly? Are you happy with the look and style? If so, just have the multi-pane seals replaced. But if your “window to the world” is giving you a gloomy picture, this should clear things up.


You performed a home inspection for us and I remembered you said not to fall in love with the hot water heater. Well I am glad I didn’t because this morning there was a constant flow of water coming out of the copper pipe. I turned off the valve that you so kindly tagged for us at our inspection stating “hot water tank shut off”, and that stopped the flow. Is this a serious problem and time to replace the hot water tank or can it be repaired?


That leaking pipe is from the temperature and pressure relief valve. The temperature may be too hot. Turn the water back on but to a lower setting. Hold a meat thermometer under a faucet after the hot water has been on for a while. The temperature should be 120-degrees. Do not spend any money to have it fixed. It just doesn’t pay. 


My house has a lot of ivy on the exterior walls. Will this do any damage?


I went right to the best source to get the answer to this question- The Brick Institute of America. Over time, it’s possible that the tentacles and tendrils of some climbing ivy can, and have, dislodged mortar. This can happen if the walls were not properly constructed with good quality bricks, mortar that was tooled into joints, and good workmanship practices with all joints being completely filled.

It’s also true that ivy on the face of brick masonry may tend to keep moisture entrapped and in contact with the masonry. Ivy, and other plant growth can also become a harbor for nesting insects, birds and other animal life. But keep in mind also that ivy insulates the wall from the hot rays of the sun on the south and west sides, making the house a little cooler.

The view of the Brick Institute of America is that all these facts must be considered when evaluating the beauty and/or desirability of ivy growing on brick masonry walls. Presuming that the wall is known to be well built with quality materials, it can be expected to last at least 75 to 100 years, or usually more. The growth of ivy on the wall, assuming it is not removed by force, or with chemicals, shortens the life of a well-constructed wall by eight to ten years or a maximum of ten percent.

Therefore, you need to evaluate the following:

  • Was the wall well built?
  • What is the value, both esthetically and ecologically, of ivy on the wall?

Then you decide if the ivy on you wall has to go. After all, being “off the wall” is something I’m known for.

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Getting Your Garage Organized / Hot Water From Tank is Not Hot Enough / Resurfacing Concrete

In Concrete, Organizables, Uncategorized, Water Heater Problems on May 15, 2013 at 10:31 am


I want to renovate and organize my garage. Have you heard about Gladiator® Garage Works?


Your question could not have come at a better time. Although April was ‘National Garage Organization Month’, why not extend it further. I know, big deal, but it is a good time for you to check out companies like Gladiator®, Sears, Home Depot and Garage Tek® they have awesome garage organization and storage systems. They may even have sales on their systems.

I don’t understand messy garages. The garage is more than a place to park your car. It represents you and at the same time becomes an extension of the home’s living space.

Since you asked about Gladiator® check out their website www.gladiatorgarageworks.com.


You helped me out a few years back and I need your help once again.

I am 86-years old and had a gas man came and replaced a part on my 18-year old water tank. He also cleaned it as well.

I never ran out of hot water before, although it was slow running into the washer and bathtub. Since having it serviced the only thing that changed is there is not much hot water. It runs out real quick, but the water runs cool (even with two inches in the tub).

The man who did the work doesn’t understand why this is happening. The gauge only has two settings, normal and warm, and I have it on normal and the gauge won’t turn anywhere else. I thought I needed a new water tank and this one cost me over two hundred dollars to service. I hate to have to buy a new one if this one can be adjusted.

I could use your advice now since who knows how much time this one has left.


Normally, the first thing that comes to mind is for you to check the setting on the gas control knob. It may be set too low to provide enough hot water. In your case, you’re sure it’s set properly.

The only other thing I can think of is that when cleaning or draining the sediment from your old tank, it disturbed the dip tube, which then disintegrated. It would probably cost another hundred dollars or so to replace the tube.

Even at 86-years young, don’t think of your glass as almost empty, but almost full. Splurge and spend some money on a new tank. It generally doesn’t make sense to spend two hundred or even one hundred on an 18-year old water heater. Hopefully, unlike you, the tank is on its last legs.


I have read that in some instances where it’s possible to resurface concrete with a thin layer. However, no mention is made as to what type of contractor would do this work. Would it be a regular cement contractor? I am referring to a single width driveway next to my home that is in good condition (no cracks) except the top surface has worn away after thirty years.

I would appreciate your guidance in this matter.


A product such as Quikrete’s™ Concrete Resurfacer is a special blend of Portland cement, sand, polymer modifiers and “secret ingredients” or additives.

The resurfacer can be applied to any clean, concrete surface. It coats and bonds to spalled, pitted and cracked concrete surfaces. It comes in 40-pound bags and is applied by spraying on, pouring, and trowling or even by broom application. The bag covers approximately 20-square feet at ¼-inch thickness and will not pop off with freeze and thaw cycles if you follow the directions.

Depending on the weather, you should be able to walk on it after 24-hours and drive on it after 48-hours.

As for who can do the work, you can check with cement contractors, handymen or general contractors. You can also ask local supply companies or distributors if they have any recommendations.

But the bottom line is, you’ll probably end up spending so much money and have so much trouble locating someone, you’ll end up replacing the driveway.

If you do decide to replace the driveway, new concrete can and should be sealed with a sealer to retard the spalling and pitting caused by de-icing compounds.

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