Monthly Archives: March 2016

Crushed!

March 26, 2016

This has been the theme of the week.  My attempts of getting crushed recycle concrete has only crushed my schedule, and not in the good way.

Once again, my plans have gone out the window as I try and source this stuff.  Diamond was not able to get out to Richvan on Saturday but when they arrived on Monday, there was only enough product for the dump truck and none for the pony they had also brought with them. Why Richvan did not tell me there was a shortage of material over the numerous communications we had is a mystery to me.  Diamond Was able to track down a truck and pony full from another vendor later in the day Monday, but then the second vendor was also sold out.

Calls for the rest of the week proved fruitless from all three vendors that carry the stuff.  With some of the vendors, they just are not getting enough recycled concrete in to crush.  This then puts pressure on the others who basically have trucks waiting under the crusher’s conveyor belt and the product ships out as soon as it is made.  So on Thursday, I switched gears and hired the crushing company to ship instead of supplying my own trucking through Diamond.  This seems to have broken through (of course they are going to look after their own customers before allowing others to truck it away).  I received a full truck and pony today and will get another shipment on Monday or Tuesday latest.

I have received approximately 50 tons of the 3/4″ crushed recycled concrete so far.  With the first 2.5 loads I was able to back fill around the storm sump.  This also required finishing the final top of wall waterproofing and then insulating the main dwelling foundation wall in this area (wall behind left of concrete ring in below photo).

Storm sump is pretty much backfilled. I took off the last 12" riser so that I can get around with tractor.

Storm sump is pretty much back filled. I took off the last 12″ riser so that I can get around with tractor. Wood beams to help distribute weight of tractor when passing over.

Once general backfill is complete, I will replace the top 12″ riser and cap off the granular drainage with non permeable soil so that ground/storm water does not get down to the perimeter drainage and place too much burden on the sump pumps (all above grade storm water will gravity feed to municipal storm sewer).

With the final load and a half I received this morning from South Ridge Sand and Gravel, I was above to backfill about half way down the basement walk-up foundation. I will scrape this down 12″ of so later to ensure the top foot is non permeable.  The space between my walk-up foundation and neighbours house will be paved later.

About half of the north wall of the basement walk-up foundation is now back filled.

About half of the north wall of the basement walk-up foundation is now back filled.

That's a lot of gravel. Bottom was aprox 12' down

That’s a lot of gravel. Bottom was aprox 12′ down

I also worked on properly terminating the gravel drainage plane on the south elevation of the house (I stop the gravel about 16″-18″ below grade to again prevent ground water from flowing down to the perimeter drains).  This involved vacuuming away the dirt that had been pushed up against the wall when passing through with tractor, topping off the gravel to right height and then wrapping the geotextile over the top and pinning it to the dimple sheet with soil.  This will prevent fines from getting into and plugging the vertical gravel drainage plane.

Terminating gravel vertical drainage plane with Geotextile prior to back-fill

Terminating gravel vertical drainage plane with Geotextile prior to back-fill

The task also required the cleanup of the foundation lab instrument wires.  I had several areas the wire bundles had inadvertently been buried when driving through area with tractor.  So I had to find all of the wires,  ensure they were all marked, extend those that were too short (try soldering when it is raining – not a pleasant or speedy process), and then bundle out of way so backfill can be completed.   Finally I marked all of the locations for the water injection ports (yellow tape), and protected them with pipes and such so that I can dig them up again later and connect to the piping that will be routed to a lawn sprinkler box and be used to fill pipes with prescribed qty of water when performing testing for lab.

South Foundation Lab instrument wires bundles up ready to attach to monitoring hardware. Vert white pipe is just the clean out for the perimeter drainage which made a convenient portal to store the instrument wires.

South Foundation Lab instrument wires bundles up ready to attach to monitoring hardware. Vert white pipe is just the clean out for the perimeter drainage which made a convenient portal to store the instrument wires.

On Wednesday (wettest day), I headed off to Fraser Valley Tarp to discuss the new B.A.T. that I will put over the site prior to starting the framing.  The new design looks like it will work but because the vendor no longer stocks the 7oz fabric, the 9oz versions would come in at $4500.  So he suggested I talk to Alpha Tent and Awning to look at a parachute fabric that would be lighter, stronger, and hopefully cheaper.  But I will have to wait till their head installer gets back at end of month to discuss and get a quote.

Finally, I used the stat holiday on Friday to install a new sump pump (quite work).  The deeper of the two I had was shorting out and blowing the GFCI.  So instead of exchanging (they are now discontinued but still available at some stores), I threw in the towel got a refund and then bought a different model.  The electronic models I had been using worked great WHEN they worked, but they easily plugged with debris and out of the three I had bought, all had shorted out and needed to be exchanged at least twice each (seal around chord was poor and allowed water to enter and eventually displace oil motors are surrounded with and then short out).  The new model is cast iron and has a float switch instead of the built in electronic switch.  I have already noticed that this causes the pump to run less often.  This pump location (bottom of sump) was previously just connected to a garden hose, so I took the opportunity to upgrade this pump to a 1″ PVC line (to match the overflow/backup pump installed about 24″ above).  This should finally stop all of the floods that I have been having during heavy storms or when a breaker is blown.  Again, these are just construction pumps, the permanent pumps cannot be installed until I have the rough in electrical completed and inspected on the house.

I now have 2 pumps connected to 1" lines. Thats a long ways down, the bottom is 15' down from the reducer lid show and will be 16' below grade.

I now have 2 pumps connected to 1″ lines. That’s a long ways down, the bottom is 15′ down from the reducer lid show and will be 16′ below grade.

Thanks for visiting.

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” —Albert Einstein (1879-1955) Theoretical Physicist, Philosopher, Nobel Prize Winner

“Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.” —Erich Seligmann Fromm (1900-1980) Social Psychologist

Top ↑

The End does not always justify the effort getting there.

March 17, 2016

As I wrote in my last post, I had some significant problems with the pour of the exterior basement walk-up foundation. When a corner of the forms busted open during the pour, I lost a healthy 1/3 cubic meter before the problem was spotted and forms were fortified and holes plugged.

It is never good to see concrete OUTSIDE of the forms!

It is never good to see concrete OUTSIDE of the forms!

shovelled wet concrete off to the side of the north wall

shovelled wet concrete off to the side of the north wall

And about 3ft away on the west wall

And about 3ft away on the west wall

Extra bracing added as corner started to split at opposite end as well

Extra bracing added as corner started to split at opposite end as well

Well, that turned out to not be the only issue I had with the pour. There was also a split that developed on the inboard side of that same corner and was not noticed at time of pour.  This was caused when the outboard side opened up and pulled the inboard forms out of alignment.  The end result was an approximately 1″x 2″ ‘flash’ on the inboard (visible) side of the foundation.

Inside Corner Flash

An air chisel and grinder took care of it, but the ground surface left behind was completely different texture than the paper faced form work finish.   But it was a small area and I would have lived with it.

A rented option for forms, but this would make lining up ties a bit more difficult.  I should have discussed it with form vendor and then devised a similar method of doing this myself that was better than the chunks of 2x4 I used to try and tie the two walls together.

A rented option for forms, but this would make lining up ties a bit more difficult. I should have discussed it with form vendor and then devised a similar method of doing this myself that was better than the chunks of 2×4 I used to try and tie the two walls together.

Unfortunately there was one more defect that made this whole process an expensive waste of time. When I removed the form work, the concrete surface was not uniformly smooth as planned and instead looked a little bit like a aged blue cheese.

Blue cheese was not the look I was going for. What a waste

Blue cheese was not the look I was going for. What a waste!

Turns out the concrete did not get vibrated enough to fully remove voids against the form work. This was not a structural defect and also will not permit water to pass through the wall, it was only a cosmetic defect. But it renders my plan to leave the concrete exposed moot if I did not want to be reminded of the failure every time I descended those stairs. I should have been more firm in my request to have the actual forms vibrated during the pour in addition to using the whip vibrator down the core.  There was some talk of tapping with a hand sledge at the beginning of the job, but this was forgotten in the commotion of the partial form failure.

So the cost to use paper faced plywood, upgraded concrete to 35 Mpa, small agregate, and extra flow was wasted.  I now have four options; ignore the defect and live with it, cover the foundation with something like Hardie siding, look at parging and then grinding the whole exposed surface of the foundation wall to create a exposed aggregate look, or paint/stain it after parging the holes.  I will wait till the house is generally complete before making a decision. But all in all, a very disappointing turnout.

I found a really fast and easy way to snap off the ties.  Just got out my impact wrench

I found a really fast and easy way to snap off the ties. Just got out my impact wrench

End of ties snap away

End of ties snap away

Tie snaps off about 1" back from surface.  You can then fill this with mortar or a manufactured plug.  This prevents the end of the tie rusting and staining the wall.

Tie snaps off about 1″ back from surface. You can then fill this with mortar or a manufactured plug. This prevents the end of the tie rusting and staining the wall.

Since stripping the forms the first few days of March, I have been working on prepping for back fill.   I have cleaned away all debris, have parged any of the larger holes on the outboard side of the foundation, primed the foundation with a watered down coat of Bakor foundation coating, and then installed the first two courses of fabric reinforced full strength Bakor coating.

Watered down Bakor used to prime wall

Watered down Bakor used to prime wall

Once primed, you then apply a full strength coating of Bakor and embed Yellow Jacket mesh

Once primed, you then apply a full strength coating of Bakor and embed Yellow Jacket mesh

Bakor is a cheaper option for waterproofing (compared to torch on membrane), I used for this less critical exterior foundation assembly.  It is a bit of an outdated technology and has generally been replaced with fully adhered membranes in areas you are wanting waterproofing as opposed to just dam-proofing.  There are also a few downsides.  It is a lot more weather dependent. Not only does it have to be fairly dry before applying (wall can be slightly damp), it also needs to be kept dry until it cures as any splashing or very minor streaming of water from above will wash all of the Bakor off the wall.  It is also difficult to hold the mesh up while you embed it.  In hindsight, it would have been easier to go vertical, but you would have a lot more overlap required and therefore more material use.  Finally, it is difficult to get the mesh perfectly flat and it uses a lot of Bakor to wet out the mesh.  The mesh is also difficult to find in 36″ rolls.  I picked mine up at www.firestopcaulking.com

Even small flows of moisture wash the uncured emulsion away.

Even small flows of moisture wash the uncured emulsion away.

Mesh is hard to completely embed to ensure no pinholes.  Black is cured coating after 2 applications.  Hoping the third coat on right will finish it off.

Mesh is hard to completely embed to ensure no pinholes. Black is cured coating after 2 applications. Hoping the third coat on right will finish it off.

I also had to chip out the spilled concrete along the north wall to maintain the drainage plane down to the gravel and create a protected channel to run my conditioning PEX loop that will connect to my HRV.

I was thankful for my pneumatic chisel to create the trench through the spilled concrete

I was thankful for my pneumatic chisel to create the trench through the spilled concrete

I am also going to simplify back fill of the North wall and use granular fill for the entire back fill volume. This will remove the need to compact and remove the need for geotech fabric that I use to separate the soil from gravel in the rest of the house. For the main dwelling, I will still use dimple membrane against the exterior Roxul insulation, but on the walk-up foundation, I will also skip this membrane.

This decision was made easier by the urgency the geotech engineer was communicating to me to get the backfill completed, the lack of good back fill soil availability from my excavator, and finally by my recalling of the existence of a cost effective granular fill. 3/4″ clean crushed rock is about $22-$25 a ton, but 3/4″ clean crushed recycled concrete is only $14.50 per ton from Richvan Holdings.  And what a wonderful way to provide a second life to concrete which already has such a huge carbon footprint.

I also took the opportunity to slip away to Tofino for a long weekend, much to the displeasure of my poor neighbour. Of course Murphy had to rear his ugly head.  The tarp over the garage I guess had stretched enough to start allowing the water to pool.  In no time I had hundreds if not thousands of gallons of water pooled on the tarp.  The weight cracked 2×4’s and 2×6’s in the structure. So poor Ron and Ed, his house guest from Saskatchewan handled the issue while I was away. They threw in a small pump into the pool to minimize the weight and prevent total collapse.  Ron was out at 4AM turning pump off so it did not run dry and overheat and Ed was back at 6 AM turning it back on because it was raining again.  Boy do I have awesome neighbours.

Swimming anyone?

Swimming anyone?

Now that is what I call stretch marks!

Now that is what I call stretch marks!

One of the sumps also got hung up and with only one running, it could not keep up with the flow, so the room below the garage flooded.  Fortunately, I got back before the water level got high enough to flood the main portion of the basement I have worked so hard at drying out over the last couple of months.

Flooded cold room below garage

Flooded cold room below garage

I received two loads of soil from Diamond yesterday and pretty much finished the backfill around the front of the garage today.  I have also asked Diamond to deliver 6 loads of the crushed concrete anytime from Saturday on.  SO hopefully they will be able to complete by early next week.  Even with all of the setbacks, by the end of the month I should FINALLY have all of the back fill complete and officially be out of the hole!

The one and only sun sighting at Tofino was the night before we left.

The one and only sun sighting at Tofino was the night before we left.

Thanks for visiting.

“Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can?” —Sun Tzu (544-496) Chinese General

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” —Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) 26th U.S. President

“You must give everything to make your life as beautiful as the dreams that dance in your imagination” —Roman Payne (born 1977) Author

“Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end. ” —John Lennon (1940-1980) Musician, Founding Member Of The Beatles

Top ↑