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Archive for February, 2012

Mardi Gras

Cats had some Mardi Gras fun this week.

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Last weekend we poured the footings for the new posts we will be installing for the beefed up basement beam. On Friday, we purchased 5120 lbs of concrete mix, that’s 64 80 lbs bags or 2.5 tons or two loads in the sprinter. Luckily, the store was able to load the pallet right into the back of the sprinter with the fork lift so we only had to move each bag once. We hauled about 55 of those bags down into our basement. We rented a 3 cubic foot concrete mixer and on Saturday, we proceeded to mix 2 bag batches over and over again. After about 25 batches, all of our small graves were filled and we only had to return 13 bags to the store.

A. watching the concrete mixing

You can see both the front and back footing are done and we are working on the 3rd.

Over all, this project could have been a lot worse. Moving the concrete bags worked out alright and the little mixer we rented worked out well, especially fitting down our narrow basement stairs.

We were done with the concrete work on Saturday night and A. was able to finish up screwing up the heat transfer plates for the radiant heating and install insulation under the bathroom. We still have two bags of insulation left to install under the bedroom floor. We are holding off on this project to keep some heat toward the basement.

This weekend we plan on drilling the holes in the concrete that will hold the epoxy anchors for the post footings and ledger board that will hold the new beams on either side of the stairway. We won’t be able to do much else as we just ordered the supplies yesterday. With the extra time, we hope to work on some gas piping and electricity for the dryer. We realized this winter that drying laundry inside adds too much moisture to our house and that we end up running the dehumidifier to remove the moisture. Running an electric dehumidifier is more expensive that running a gas dryer so we decided to get a used dryer from a local appliance rehab place. With our super mild winter, we will probably be able to dry our laundry outside again in a few weeks but we might as well get this project done if we have the extra time.

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Digging small graves

Well, turns out that digging small graves is part of our basement beam project. The graves are really for the new footings for the new posts. We laid out the footings last weekend and drilled some exploratory holes. Mostly we found a 3 – 4 inch slab and confirmed a footing where the chimney used to be. It also seemed that there were no footings under the existing posts. We also started drilling the outlines of the footings and realized that we will run into some drain pipe plumbing close to the front footing. We rented a ferrous metal detector and were sort of able to locate the pipes. Because we wanted more detail, we hired a contractor to do a more exact drain pipe mapping with a camera and locating device. It was worth the extra money for us since we were also going to get a look at the pipe. Our pipes are mostly dry under the house but roots are growing into the seams of the clay pipes outside the house. We’ll have to get that cleaned out at some point so sewage can flow freely.

This weekend we rented a jack hammer and dug out for the new footings.

Small graves dug

We found out that the original post had footings poured but they were only about 8 inches deep. The original posts were wood so they stuck the post right into the concrete. At some point for reasons unknown to us, they replaced the posts with metal jack posts and poured additional small footings for these posts.

Original footing visible under sand line

The new footings are going to be pretty big: 12″ deep by 18″ wide by 30″ long, thus the small grave size. We have a double beam design with the loading bearing wall not centered. Since this has been causing some twisting of the beam, we will be placing a new beam under the load bearing wall, in between the existing two beams and installing under each beam. We hope by connecting all beams laterally we will be able to take some of the twist out of the beam or at least prevent further twist. This whole design is rather complicated and involves many different types of Simpson ties and hangers, lots of LVL and 7 new posts.

One unfortunate discovery we made while digging close to the drain pipe is a crack. To me it looks like a cracked casting seam from differential settlement. It is toward the top of the pipe so we hope we can “ignore” it for now and come back to this highly disruptive project later when we redo the bathroom.

Cracked drain pipe towards the middle of picture, you can see a dark straight line

Some good things about our discoveries include a substantial slab, existing foundations and a fairly stable substrate which seems to be some kind of clay or loam. We also discovered that the jack hammer makes quick work of busting up the concrete and feel that our progress is moving at a good pace. Next week we plan to have the inspection for the footings and poor concrete next weekend.

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