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I’m building a wall. I’ve done some concrete so I think I can handle all of the stucco. 21 feet by 12 feet high in some areas. Not sure if I need a permit. Thank you,

Bernard B.

Hi Bernard,

Permits are needed on any wall over 4’ tall. The inspector will also want to check that your lathing is nailed on properly. He will want to see the nails or staples that you’re using. He will check that the spacing constant is correct so the lath is secured and will not fall on anyone. I’ve seen whole sides of stucco walls that came down because they were improperly nailed, using the wrong nails or staples. He will also check your finish work.

If you’re going 12 feet high, you can’t do that on a ladder, so you will need scaffolding. This is a relatively big job. There is no way I would do this job on my own. It would take too long. Especially if you don’t do this kind of work full time. I would get a stucco man out there and let him do it for you, unless you are specifically looking for a back-breaking project to get into. I mean, it’s concrete, it’s heavy, you have to mix it, you have to trowel it on. Then you have to go back and scratch it. Unless you’ve got five friends that want to donate weekend after weekend doing this. When it goes to the brown coat, you need to know how to level it.

You’re going to have to use a screed board and you need to be on top of your game for that side of the process. You have to know all of the cure rates of the different stages. There’s a lot to this and with something that size, again, I’d hire a stucco guy and let him take care of it.

Hello Robert,

I’ve got a problem with my toilet. It’s only about 10 years old, but if I don’t keep holding the handle down, then basically it won’t flush and I have to use the plunger which I would rather avoid if I had a choice. I’m used to it by now, but I will occasionally forget to tell guests and it’s embarrassing. I agree this is not a big emergency, just more of a nuisance that I hope you know how to fix. Thank you very much,

Cynthia B.

Hi Cynthia,

It sounds like the flapper is waterlogged. When you flush, the flapper should come up and float long enough to allow water to drain from the tank and into the bowl. But if it’s waterlogged, it’s so heavy that it falls back down and seals off the tank prematurely.

To replace the float, turn the water off at the angle stop and drain the water closet. Remove the flapper. Generally it’s two clips on either side. Take it down to your local hardware store and match it up because there is an array of those on the market. Many years ago, there were only one or two styles, but with all of the new toilet manufacturers and styles, there has been a drastic change in flappers recently.

They usually come with a round insert and if you don’t have it on yours, just break it off in the middle where the two tabs are. You might also have to experiment with it a little and adjust the chain, but it’s an easy fix.

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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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