Dear Maintenance Men

Last Updated: June 4, 2024By

By Jerry L’Ecuyer & Frank Alvarez

Dear Maintenance Men:

I have an older apartment building & would like to soundproof the walls between the units & in the main bathroom. Can you give me info on soundproofing walls?

Thank you, Richard.

Dear Richard,

There are various methods for sound proofing walls. One is to drill small one or two-inch holes at the top of the wall and just below any fire blocks in the wall. You can rent a blower machine for applying blow-in insulation at most rental centers. The wall voids can be filled with loose insulation. The holes will then need to be repaired.

Acousti-Coat is a latex based, slightly textured paint that can be applied to painted walls and ceilings. Acousti-Coat will reduce about 30% the noise that is in the mid-range frequencies, normal voice and city traffic. Acousti-Coat also has insulating properties that help to insulate and reduce transfer of heat through the painted surface. Product information can be found at this web site:

If you are removing drywall, this method may work well. It is a new material available called Quiet Rock, soundproof drywall. You hang and finish this material just like drywall.

Dear Maintenance Men:

I have an exterior door that has become hard to close. I don’t know if the door is expanding due to humidity or moisture. Do I need to plane down the edge or are there other alternatives?


Dear Micheal:

There are natural reasons why wood expands and contracts depending on climate. Many door problems are result of the following:

When your door was newly installed it should have had an approx. one-eighth to one-quarter inch reveal around the entire jam. This allows for expansions/contractions (in some cases weather stripping) Over the many years of service, your door probably has been painted more than a few times! Layer after layer of paint has closed the gap between door and jam. You now must plane or sand the sides and top of your door to approx. 1/8’’ reveal; this is easiest done by removing the door from its hinges (don’t forget to remove your hardware). Do not try to plane or sand a hanging door, the result will not be attractive.

The second reason why your door is expanding and contracting or suffering the effects of moisture is the top and bottom of your door is not painted or sealed allowing moisture to swell or warp your door. Unsealed edges allow moisture to access your door. While the door is off its hinges, paint the top and bottom.

Exterior doors by nature are very heavy. Chances are the hinges may be loose in addition to a buildup of paint and dirt. Tighten each hinge screw; check that the hinge is not bent. Clean out dirt buildup around the doorframe. If you find some of the hinge screws are not tightening properly; remove the screw and tap in a glue covered wood dowel into the hole. Reinstall the screw and tighten. If the above does not solve the sticky door issue, check to see if the door is warped. You can plane down a slightly warped door, if the door is badly warped, it may need to be replaced. Another possibility is the settling of the building putting pressure and deforming the doorframe. Using a plane to reshape the door to match the frame is a solution.

Dear Maintenance Men:

I am building some work benches in my storage garage to help with my apartment maintenance jobs. However, the benches are a bit wobbly and not at as sturdy as I had hoped they would be. I’m not looking for a “Monster Garage” just something functional & strong. Please help!


Dear Ted:

We can’t all be master carpenters, but that has never stopped us! In this case, “Simpson Strong Tie” is your friend. Go to your local hardware store or lumber yard. Look for a bench & shelving kit called “KWB1 Hardware Kit”. It comes in a box and contains metal connectors, screws and instructions for building the strongest bench you have ever seen! And it is simple to build. In a couple of hours, you will have a professional duty bench.

If you need maintenance work or consultation for your building or project, please feel free to contact us. We are available throughout Southern California. For an appointment, please call Buffalo Maintenance, Inc. at 714 956-8371 
Frank Alvarez is licensed contractor and the Operations Director and co-owner of Buffalo Maintenance, Inc. He has been involved with apartment maintenance & construction for over 30 years. Frankie is President of the Apartment Association of Orange County and a lecturer, educational instructor and Chair of the Education Committee of the AAOC.  He is also Chairman of the Product Service Counsel.  Frank can be reached at (714) 956-8371 For more info please go to:
Jerry L’Ecuyer is a real estate broker. He is currently a Director Emeritus and Past President of the Apartment Association of Orange County and past Chairman of the association’s Education Committee.  Jerry has been involved with apartments as a professional since 1988.



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