Ask The Expert


Hi Robert,

We are having our condo buildings painted. Is it OK to paint the gas meters so they blend in with the buildings?

Sophia G.

Hi Sophia,

Yes, you can paint them. The gas company is not thrilled about it but as long as you don’t paint the sight glass they’re OK with it. If the meter should sour they sandblast it and powder coat them. Have your painter scuff them up and apply the paint. Just keep the glass clear so that the meter reader can read it.

You can also paint the pipes to match. If you put primer and paint on them, especially if it’s black pipe, it helps to protect them.


Hi Robert,

We have a sinkhole in our driveway. If you look down under the sidewalk there is a 5 foot deep hole that extends out to the street underground. We think that it was caused by a broken irrigation line. The question is since it is within our HOA, should we fill in the hole and repair the concrete or do we need to get building and safety involved? We want to get it taken care of as soon as possible. Thank you,

Clayton G.

Hi Clayton,

If the hole encroaches under a city sidewalk, then it becomes a Public Works problem, not the Department of Building and Safety.

You may be required to hire a soils engineer to determine what happened. You’ll also need to hire an “A” license engineering contractor on this job. He is authorized to repair both the HOA and the City side as well. He will proceed either with a 90% compaction or fill with slurry. This is something that the contractor will work out with the City. Generally, they’ll go with slurry which is a cement and sand mix.

In the interim, I would put in some trenching plates to help prevent any vehicles from breaking through the unsupported concrete and falling into the hole. It may sound far-fetched but this is how accidents happen and seen on the local news.

Hey Robert,

We hired a plumbing company to repair a 4″ copper line in the closet of one of our homeowner’s units. They put in a Victaulic coupling and a copper 90 and the pipe. Anyway the bill was $3,558.00. Does this sound like an outrageous price to you? Thank you,

Addie L.

Hi Addie,

It’s hard to determine cost without knowing how long the repair took and how many plumbers were needed. Also, how many floors in the building? Did they bleed the building down to the first floor? This can take hours.

Material costs for this job would be high. Copper is expensive. That 90 degree coupling is about $125.00 and a 20′ length of 4″ copper pipe currently sells for $830.00.

He used a Vic coupling which means there was water in the line. So, it was easier for them to do all of the sweating and hook up outside of the closet area especially if it’s a horizontal piece.

There are a lot of variables to price this one sight unseen. But with Vic groovers and couplings, difficult access, time, labor, and materials this doesn’t sound that unreasonable. That’s a big pipe with a big price tag but not outrageous.

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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