Sidewalk, Fence Posts, Water Conservation


Dear Maintenance Men:

What is the difference between cement and concrete? I hear people use both terms to describe a sidewalk or building. I understand there is a difference, but don’t know which one means what!


Dear George:

Great question! Many people including those in the building industry mix up the two terms. Cement is a binding agent used to hold other materials together. You may have heard the term “Portland cement.” Portland cement is not a brand name but is the generic term for the type of cement used in almost all concrete today. Portland cement is a mixture of ground sintered limestone or calcium, silicon, aluminum and iron all ground into a very fine powder.

Concrete is a mixture of aggregate, gravel, sand and cement. Mixed together with water and you have concrete, a stone like material.

Another way to remember which is which: cement has a soft “c” sound like soft powder; and concrete has a hard “c” sound like a hard sidewalk. Cement and the resulting concrete have been around for a long time. The process goes all the way back to Ancient Macedonia and was used extensively by the Roman Empire to build the aqueducts, the Pantheon and many other Roman structures.

Dear Maintenance Men:

I am replacing a number of rotted pressure treated 4x4 fence posts on my property. Why do some posts rot and others do not? I cannot see any rhyme or reason for one post to be good and the other one to be bad. How can I avoid this trouble in the future?


Dear Kent:

The issue of the rotting posts lies in the Tree Growth Rings and their location. The rotting posts may have centered growth rings. If you look at the 4x4 post end, the growth rings will be either centered or not centered. A centered growth ring is common in a post made from a peeler core. The tight centered growth rings of the peeler core will not accept pressure treatment as well as a post with off-center growth rings. Chances are the fence you are repairing may have a mixture of peeler core posts and off center growth ring posts. A peeler core is the by-product of plywood manufacturing. A log is turned on a lathe to produce plywood veneer and the center that remains is called a peeler-core. When buying pressure-treated posts, look for off center growth rings.

Dear Maintenance Men:

I am trying to do my part to conserve water and have found my toilets are the biggest offenders. The toilet constantly fills every five or ten minutes. I have replaced the fill and flapper valves but the problems persist. I’m at my wits end about this! What can I do besides replacing the toilets?


Dear Benjamin:

Leaks at the flush valve are possibly caused by a damaged flush valve seat which may have a hole or the rim is pitted or cracked. The seat is the large drain hole at the bottom of the tank. A temporary repair may be to sand the seat with a steel wool pad or wet/dry sandpaper. This will remove the calcium build-up.

If the seat is damaged, replacing the seat will be the next option. “Fluidmaster, Inc.” makes a Flusher Fixer Kit that can be cemented directly on top of your old worn flush valve seat. This is a quick fix that may not work on all toilets.

If the seat kit does not work, you will need to replace the valve seat. This can be accomplished by removing the tank from the base of the toilet: turn off the water to the fill valve, disconnect the water line and remove any water from the tank. Unscrew the two or three brass bolts under the tank and carefully lift the tank off. Once the tank is removed, turn it upside down. Remove the rubber “spud” washer from the tank. Spin the large nut from the threads and then push the valve seat through the tank. Reverse the procedure when installing the new valve seat. Always install a new “spud” washer and new brass bolts and washers. Be sure your toilet tank is installed level, as this will aid in its operation. The new flush valve will give the rubber flapper a smooth seat for a positive seal.


Feel free to contact Buffalo Maintenance, Inc., at 714-956- 8371, for maintenance work or consultation; or JLE Property Management, Inc., at 714-778-0480 for management service or consultation. Jerry L’Ecuyer is a licensed contractor and real estate broker. Jerry has been involved with apartments as a professional since 1988. Frankie Alvarez is the Operations Director of Buffalo Maintenance, Inc., and can be reached at 714-956-8371 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Websites: and and

Contact AACSC

Apartment Association,

California Southern Cities
333 W. Broadway St., Suite 101
Long Beach, CA 90802
(562) 426-8341

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