Ask The Expert


Hi Robert,

I read your column all the time and enjoy it very much.

We’re putting an addition in on our home. I’m planning on doing all of the work myself. On the prints it says I can use plywood for the sheerwall or O5B. Are you familiar with this product? Thank you,

Jean M.

Hi Jean,

It says OSB, which is oriented strand board. It looks like plywood, which is made from wood fibers that are glued together. The OSB is a little cheaper than plywood, but it’s basically the same thing and is widely used for sheerwall applications.

Just make sure you follow all of the nailing patterns, and whether they want ring shank or screw downs.



I have had nothing but problems with my plumbing pipes over the years. The HOA sent out a plumber, and he is going to spray an epoxy lining in the pipe. They have scheduled the work for Dec. 21 so I hope you can answer before that time. Thank you,

Sasha R.

Hi Sasha,

I’ve seen hundreds of these epoxy lined pipes over the years and my experience with them has been negative. In theory they work great. The insurance companies like it because it offers them a cheaper alternative to sawcutting the slab, which takes additional labor and concrete repair.

With the coating, they come in and spray this system and it works, but if and when you have another back up, you can’t use cutters on the cable because it will damage the liner.

In my opinion, the epoxy lining is a band-aid. It’s a waste of money and time. To do this job properly, they need to open that slab and replace the pipe. Depending on the age of your home, you might have galvanized.

If cutters are used, the insurance company will say that you destroyed the lining and now you own it. One suggestion would be to ask the insurance company what kind of allowance they are giving for that repair. Then ask if they will give you that money so you can make up the difference —do it right.


I have a property that sits lower than my next door neighbor’s yard. I have a block wall that divides our yards but from their side, it is only chest high so they are looking right into our pool. Can I add a couple of rows of blocks on this wall? Is there anything else I need to know? Thank you very much,

Ron L.

[After a follow-up email, I found out Ron’s wall had 11 courses.]

Hi Ron,

Unfortunately the answer is no. Your footing is designed for up to 11 courses and the cap, and that’s it. It can’t handle more of a load than that. To rebuild it higher, it would have to be engineered, and the City probably would not allow it anyway.

You can, however, plant some shrubbery on your side of the wall that can grow up to eight feet high. It will require maintenance, but it will help with your privacy. Go to a nursery and look at their evergreen, year-round shrubbery. Some varieties grow in very dense. Many people look at this option as a living fence and prefer it to block.

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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