Sunday, October 25, 2009

Concrete is our friend

The floor of that southwest corner was pretty grotty - but when I really got in there with the Shopvac and sucked out all the loose dirt and brick dust and humus, it turned out to be a honking huge hole about four inches deep. The original plan was to patch it up with patching cement, but that stuff just isn't made for large volumes, and besides I just had a 10-pound bag, which would probably just disappear into that hole and never be seen again.

Bigger guns were necessary, in this case (gulp) actual concrete, which I had never actually used before.

So today my daughter and I learned how to work with concrete - turns out it's just like mortar except with gravel instead of sand, and probably some other differences. The important thing is, just like mortar, if you mix it with enough water and you're patient, it is a very forgiving medium. Here's the corner after we lugged in an 80-pound back of Quikrete from the car (good God 80 pounds is heavy) and mixed it up a bucket at a time, troweling it into place with our mortar trowels (which worked fine).

Then, what the heck, we kept right on going along the west wall, which had a lot of weirdness in it, including the bottom of the white window featured last week or so, pictured here. I had been wondering how best to seal up the base of that door fill-in; as always, masonry is totally our friend.

Well, flush with that success - remember back on July 26, when I finished the washer/dryer hookup and right at the end of the post I mentioned there was a truly big hole right in that corner where somebody once obviously fixed the drain stack but found refilling the hole just too much trouble?

Well, they were right. It was a job of work, let me tell you. First, we wheelbarrowed in six loads of dirt; two left over from the drainage ditch, and four from next to the cold frame where there's kind of a little hill built up.

It was a weird feeling, bringing load after load of dirt into the house, with a wheelbarrow, and it felt like a crime to use this lovely dirt to fill in a hole in the basement, but we got lots of this dirt out there, so there you go.

The next step was pea gravel, for a nice solid base after tamping down the dirt with a short length of 2x4 for a while. This part was much easier; no wheelbarrow was harmed in the taking of this picture.

Then it was on to the concrete itself. We finished off the first bag, then carried the other in from the car (I carried, she made sure the dog didn't get out).

We still ran out of concrete before we ran out of hole; this is the second bag of concrete. Turned out to be a bigger hole than I thought.

So we went out for Mexican (I had the burrito/taco/rice/beans combo, which was on special and quite good), and bought three more bags of concrete, each of which I now feel in every muscle of my body, and it took another bag and a half!

But the lovely result is what will soon be a solid floor for the washer and dryer:

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