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Hello Robert,
I am the president of a Home Owners Association. Every light standard and every building is on their own photocell, which we are continuously replacing. I would be interested in any alternatives you can offer.

Many thanks,
Matt L.

Hi Matt,
Go to the main electrical panel where all of the circuits are located. Disconnect them and put them on a relay. Each pole on that relay will activate one photocell.
At the main panel, the house panel, let’s say you have seven circuits. Then, you would need a seven pole relay. Each pole would have a different photocell tied to it. When it clicks on, you’re bypassing all of the photocells and putting them all on one relay. It would basically act like a switch, turning all seven circuits off and on at the same time.
As I always say, when it comes to electricity, especially, please use only a licensed electrician, and pull permits as needed for this type of work.

We have some rotted load-bearing posts on our property that I want to replace. The posts are 8”x8”, and are either badly termite damaged or maybe water rotted. There are some clamps on the bottom of the posts that are rusted, and one is broken, but it looks like we can still use some of them. My question is: What’s the best way to replace them, and would permits be necessary?

Thank you,
Edgar B.

Hi Edgar,
To replace a load-bearing post, you need to shore up the building. You would use jacks with posts on either side of the post you are replacing to both support the building and take the weight off of the damaged posts so they can be removed.
For permits, you need engineering. You will need to pay a structural engineer for a field inspection, a complete layout or architectural drawings, and the completed report which includes his calculations of what needs to be changed (like the dimensions of the new footings).
For example, lets say the posts are approximately 30-years-old. Based on code changes, posts now need to rest on stand-off brackets which keep them off of the ground by about 1”. This way, water can’t wick up inside the posts and rot them.
For the stand-off brackets, you’ll need to set them in fresh concrete, so you’ll first have to saw cut and demo for your footings. The engineer may call out 2ft. x 2ft x 2ft deep.
After you mix and pour the new concrete, you’ll need to set the stand-off bracket level and exactly underneath where the new post will sit, before the concrete bangs. Any small weight on a string or plumb bob works fine for this. Remember, you’re going to want that post to stand perfectly plumb when finished.
You mentioned that you weren’t sure if the damages were termite related. I recommend calling out a termite company for an inspection. If you have damaged beams, now would be the time to replace those as well. Sometimes they look perfectly fine, but are actually hollow. To check yourself, you can perform a tap test. Just tap the timbers with a rod. If you’ve got termites, you’ll be able to tell right away.

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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