Ask The Expert


Hello Robert,

I have DE, diatomaceous earth in the bottom of my pool. I’ve checked the filter grids and the valves. I have resealed everything and so far nothing is helping. Can you offer any suggestions? Sincerely,

Clint M.

Hi Clint,

Inside the filer itself is a manifold. Sometimes it looks fine when you see it but if there is a hairline crack, it will expand under pressure and allow DE to blow back inside your pool.

Also you’ll want to make sure your grids are all in really good shape. At first glance they may appear to be fine, but examine them very closely. There could be a small tear at a seam which could exacerbate this problem.


I am thinking about purchasing a shed from Home Depot for my yard. What is the largest I can build without a permit? Would a concrete pad be the best floor for this shed? Thank you.

David N.

Hi David,

Those pre-manufactured sheds are fine in any size offered by the manufacturer without permits. Just remember to keep it away from the property lines as code requires.

The concrete pad is the best idea for those. I wouldn’t put it on anything but concrete.

Hi Robert,

Thank you for your terrific column with sound thinking and advice. We have a few questions:

  1. You recommended a certain brand of door lock. We were unable to find the column with the information using the search at the Signal web site. Would you please tell us again?
  2. We installed gutters at the roof line. We would like to attach the downspout to the stucco but you have written to never break the water barrier under the stucco. How do we secure the downspout?
  3. Recessed lighting installed in our kitchen has a draft that we can feel when we clean the light or change the bulb. We have been told that circulation is required and recessed lighting cannot be installed air tight. Is that true and if so would track lighting be a better idea?

Thank you,

Alan and Carla Z.

Hi Alan and Carla,

  1. For high-end security locks I recommend either Medeco or Yale.
  2. Stucco is usually 1″ thick. To secure the downspout you would use 1″ or less plastic anchors. Install the mounting screws directly behind the downspout which will help protect it and keep out any wind driven rain. Wrap the straps around the front and tech screw them. Put plenty of vulkem inside the hole just in case the stucco is thin and you do create a pin hole.
  3. You can caulk and seal the escutcheon. The caulk helps fill small gaps of the drywall that is usually not true. It breathes through the housing between the lamp and the bulb. Be sure and keep the insulation away from it in the attic.

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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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