Ask The Expert


Hi Robert,
I enjoy your column. We removed a section of carpeting in our entryway and replaced it with tiles because it would be easier to clean. There is one tile that has been repaired twice already but is always coming loose and moves when you walk on it. The tile man doesn’t seem to know what is causing this problem. Do you have any ideas?

Thank you very much,
Stephanie T.

Hi Stephanie,
You have an adhesion problem. What I would do is take a surface grinder and grind the concrete to roughen it up. It sounds like the concrete underneath is too smooth or polished to allow the adhesive to bond properly.
Another possibility is that they are not using the right adhesives. Get some good, fresh tile adhesive and apply on the rough concrete, then reset and regrout that tile. That should take care of it.

Hi Robert,
I live in a multi-story condo complex and some of the stairwell doors don’t close right. Is that a fire code violation? We also have one door leading out to the roof that you can see daylight streaming in around the frame. Shouldn’t it be sealed properly?

Thank you,
Tom C.

Hi Tom,
You are absolutely right. Whenever you have an interior corridor hallway, it is considered your safety zone. Those are fire rated corridors right into the stairwell.
In case of fire, if people would be exiting through those stairwells, and they must be kept clear of smoke due to the possibility of asphyxiation. Every one of those doors should be sealed tight all of the way around. They should be self closing and self latching because if there was a fire in the common area, you would not want smoke entering into the stairwells or corridors. In some common area corridors, you’ll see doors are held open with a magnet on the wall. These are generally at the top of the door. These closures are all tied into the fire system. If the fire alarm activates, the magnets release the doors which will self close and latch. If your complex does not have these magnetic closures in the fire corridors, then it is illegal to use door stops and you cannot leave those doors open. They must remain closed at all times.
Fire corridors through condominium complexes leading to each of the units are all constructed with double 5/8 inch drywall in the walls and ceiling. Also, every penetration made through that drywall for conduit, pipes or fire stanchions is caulked with a fire barrier. This is a red mastic which prevents fire or smoke from infiltrating that area through those openings.
It is up to your management company to bring a certified fire alarm company to your property for annual Reg. 4 testing. They will check the fire alarm system, fire doors, elevators, sprinkler systems and the fire extinguishers. As a resident, if you see or suspect any deficiencies in anything regarding fire safety, contact the management company or a member of the Board and have it tested or repaired immediately.

Submit your questions to Robert Lamoureux of IMS Construction, Valencia, CA, has 30 years experience as a commercial general, electrical and plumbing contractor. The opinions expressed in “Ask the Expert” are not to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after a thorough visual inspection has been made.

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