Ask The Expert

Hi Robert,

I’m a new board member and am perhaps overly cautious from a liability and legal standpoint. We have agreed to put in a new play area in a specially gated section of property. What regulations would be involved with the installation of playground equipment involving basically a slide, swings, cargo netting, and a ramp? Thank you,

Emily B.

Hi Emily,

You would need to pull permits for the footings, which would have to be inspected by the City. They will want to see that the footings were dug properly and that the concrete is set. Also, they will check the pinning, if required.

All of the recommendations will be listed by the manufacturer. That said, the City will want to see that all is installed as they see fit.

Other items of interest to the City will be the flooring — whether it is the rubber matting, bark, sand, etc. Then, once a year, you’ll have to call out an independent contractor that will certify that the play area is still safe and in good working condition. There are several contractors in California that provide you with these annual certifications.

Hello Mr. Lamoureux,

Now that winter is just around the corner, are there any maintenance tips or anything you recommend to prepare your home for the rainy season? Thank you,

Michael S.

Hi Michael,

There are a number of things you can do in preparation of the rains.

You want to make sure that all of your gutters as well as your downspouts are thoroughly cleaned. The only way to be sure they are clean is to water test them.

What we recommend doing is to put a garden hose into the downspouts and flush out all of the leaves and debris. A clean downspout is just as important of having the gutters clean. During a rain, on a two story house, if the downspouts are backed up, there is enough water weight there to pull the spouts and the gutters off of your house.

If you’ve made any recent changes or improvements to your property, such as planting trees, adding a planter or flower bed or any concrete work, make sure everything is graded away from the house so you don’t get ponding and pooling.

Check that all of your area drains are clear. Remove the cover, clean out the leaves, and run a garden hose through them as far as you can.

You can also check caulking around your windows. If you need to caulk, use single stage urethane as opposed to silicone. The urethane has got better elasticity and a longer life for just pennies more on the dollar and is available in an array of colors.

A lot of people have sump pumps. To check them, turn it off and fill the vault with water. Plug it in and see if the discharge line is clear and if it is working. Depending on the size of the vault, you can use a sump pump or a sewage ejector that handles more GPM’s (gallons per minute.) Make sure the vault is cleared of any debris that could interfere with the float and clean the weep hole that could cause airlock.

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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