By Jerry L’Ecuyer & Frank Alvarez
Dear Maintenance Men:
I have to do some caulking in my apartment, both inside and outside the unit. However, I am confused. I stood at the caulking section of the home improvement center and watched for ten minutes. I still don’t know what to buy!!! Can you explain the different types of caulks and where to use them?
Let’s try to break down the most common types of caulk and when and where to use them.
1: Acrylic Latex Caulk (painter’s putty): inexpensive, easy to use, clean up with water.
Do not use in damp places such as the bathroom or kitchen or outdoors. Designed to be painted.
2: Vinyl Latex Caulk: Easy to use, clean with water and can be used outdoors. Not very flexible; use in expansion joints is not recommended.
3: Acrylic Tile Sealer: Easy to use, cleaning with water. The putty is perfect for bathrooms and kitchens and other damp places. It is mold and mildew resistant. Can be painted.
4: Siliconized acrylic sealant: Easy to use, cleaning with water and soap or solvent. Perfect for porcelain tile, metal and glass. Similar to acrylic tile sealant, but stronger and more durable.
5: pure silicon: Ideal for non-porous surfaces. Long-lasting interior/exterior caulking. Super soft and strong. More difficult to use than any of the caulks above. Solvent cleaning. Mold and mildew resistant. Could smell until healed.
6: Butyl rubber: Best use is outdoors. Messy to use. Perfect for sealing roofs, valleys, gutters, flashings and foundations. Tolerant to humidity and movement. Stick to anything. Cleaning with solvents.
7: Elastomeric Latex Caulk: Water cleaning. Most durable caulking. Excellent adhesion to almost any surface and can stretch up to 200%. Elastomeric sealant is highly tolerant of temperature extremes and extreme weather conditions. It is most often used outdoors. This putty can fill gaps up to 2 inches wide and deep. The putty dries very quickly, smooth the putty immediately after application.
Dear Maintenance Men:
I want to create a lounge and relaxation area in the middle of the courtyard of my building. My thoughts are to use decomposed granite and eliminate the current grass area. How do I go about installing the surface without making a mess or future headache for me.
Decomposed granite or DG for short is a great way to add a durable, natural and water-friendly surface. A few things to know before you get started. The key word in DG is “Decomposed”. In other words, this granite decomposes. There are three options: raw DG for flowerbeds, stabilized DG for driveways and resin coated DG for driveways. For your purpose, you should use a stabilized DG for gateways. It contains a binder mixed with DG. Unstabilized DG is much cheaper, but will of course break down, create dust when dry and slush when wet. To properly install the DG, dig three inches in total and use wood, stone, or brick edging to keep the edges of the DG from crumbling. As an option, lay a weed control fabric under the DG. Apply the DG in 1.5 inch coats, water in (do not flood) and tamp or use a heavy roller to compress the DG. Wait eight hours between coats to allow the DG to stabilize. Repeat the above for each subsequent layer. When installed correctly, the DG surface will be hard, stable, dust free and allow water to drain away.
Dear Maintenance Men:
I have a resident who complains of garbage disposal odors. I tried running lemon slices and ice cubes to clean the disposal unit. It works for a short time, but the smell comes back. What steps do you recommend to solve this problem?
The smell can come from several places.
1: The first and easiest to check is the rubber splash guard that prevents items from falling into the bin. Remove the rubber splash guard and flip it over. Clean the debris that has accumulated and wash it with soap and water.
2: Use a small toilet type bush with soap and scrub the inside of the garbage disposal. This will remove any mud buildup. (For safety reasons, turn off the garbage disposal at the circuit breaker or unplug the outlet.)
3: Remove the siphon and clean the sludge. Many times the horizontal pipe between the trap and the wall may have hard deposits coating the inside of the pipe. The deposits will collect food and debris which can slow down the drains considerably.
4: If you have a dishwasher, check the drain line leading from the air gap or dishwasher to the disposer. It may be full of mud which will cause an odor to pass through the air gap next to the faucet. Clean or replace hoses with deposits or sludge. Check both drain lines for the above issues.
5: Now, if desired, run a few slices of lemon through the garbage disposal and it should smell and stay that way. Occasionally throw ice cubes into the garbage disposal to help scrape up debris.
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If you need maintenance or consultation work for your building or project, do not hesitate to contact us. We are available throughout Southern California. For an appointment, please call Buffalo Maintenance, Inc. at 714 956-8371
Frank Alvarez is a licensed contractor and the COO and co-owner of Buffalo Maintenance, Inc.. He has been involved in apartment maintenance and construction for over 30 years. Frankie is president of the Orange County Apartment Association and a speaker, educational instructor, and chair of the AAOC Education Committee. He is also Chairman of the Product Service Counsel. Frank can be reached at (714) 956-8371 [email protected] For more information, please visit: www.BuffaloMaintenance.com
Jerry L’Ecuyer is a real estate broker. He is currently a director emeritus and former president of the Orange County Apartment Association and past chair of the association’s education committee. Jerry has been involved with apartments as a professional since 1988.