Ask The Expert


Hi Robert,

We had a rather large piece of concrete fall from the ceiling of our parking garage. It appears to be water related and to be honest I’ve noticed water dripping in that area over the last year or so.

This is obviously a leak of some kind. Could there be pipes running in the concrete?

Sam D.

Hi Sam,

You’ll never find horizontal piping in a podium slab. The leak could be coming from any number of sources. It may be from a unit above, finding its way around the waste line. Or, it could be due to planter or decking problems.

Start at a wall at the nearest point and pace off where the leak is located. You’ll then go upstairs and determine if it appears to be coming from a unit, area drain, etc.

Ultimately you will need to water test. I would recommend paying experienced guys that know what they are doing to figure this out.

When is it dripping? Is it in the morning when people are showering? When the planters are being watered?

In any event, this is something that you should take care of immediately. If allowed to continue, the damages you are describing will eventually require structural engineers for the repair, if not already. The rebar inside the podium slab has already rusted and expanded causing the concrete to blow out. These types of repairs can become astronomically expensive.

Cordon off the area and do not allow anyone to stand under that area. Call in professionals for an inspection and have them remove any remaining concrete that may be loose.

Hello Robert,

We love your column. Thank you for all of the wonderful information.

I live in a condominium complex that has a full-time handyman that takes care of assorted problems throughout the community. He seems to be knowledgeable about many different types of things. Our garage door was backed into which bent one of the arms that lifts the door. The handyman came over and I asked him if it would be best if that piece was replaced. He said it was easy to fix and heated the arm with a torch and straightened it out and then painted it. The door is opening and closing OK as far as I can tell but heating a bent arm strikes me as being a cheap alternative to replacing it. I wanted to find out if this was OK. If this is what you guys do then I’ll have better peace of mind and won’t be worried about it breaking and the door falling on me. Thank you very much,

Valerie S.

Hi Valerie,

You are right to be concerned. Garage door hardware comes from the manufacturer with specific tolerances. The minute it is compromised, it can no longer safely be used to support a door. I don’t know what size door you have, but standard double garage door weigh about 600 lbs.

You do not take a torch to bent hardware and think everything is going to be alright. Absolutely not. Talk to your property manager and demand that the hardware be replaced. I’m sure they will get this taken care of immediately. If there are any delays, contact your property manager in writing to start a paper trail.

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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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