Tuesday, August 9, 2016

How to get a hunk of concrete out of a hole....

....without killing yourself.

We have three whole days to get this project completed before the new windows show up, because as soon as the windows come off the truck we will start the window install.  Both of us really really want the ugly inappropriate windows gone on the southside where people can see them.  It's embarrassing to have people THINK that we actually installed these ugly windows.

But first we need to remove a post holding up the corner of the bumpout, remove the concrete, pour another footer and pier, and then reinstall the original post.  The reason that this needs to be done is that the concrete has heaved out of the ground and the post is sliding off to the side.

To start with, we supported the bump out with two 4X4s using bottle jacks.  We then removed the post which in turn exposed a joist that did not have a joist hanger, so we took care of that.  Over the years we have added joist hangers to the deck which had been constructed with no hangers and twisty nails.  So whenever we can, we add screws and additional cross joists to break up long spans of 2X8s. I noticed another spot today when I was under the deck.  

We dug around the concrete until we got to hard clay.  I bermed some soil around the perimeter and filled the hole with water.  We let it soak in overnight and then today it was much easier to dig around the concrete.

First we suspected that the concrete did not go down 48 inches or even 36 inches.  Over the years what soil that was there washed away and to make matters worse there are large tree roots that probably made the concrete move. 

The area where we are working is on a slope under the deck.  We can stand up but the grade and numerous large tree roots above ground makes moving around a dicey deal.  So we dug down as far as we could and then moved on to plan B.

We are the proud owners of numerous floor jacks and we use them for everything.  We have heavy steel ones and lightweight NASCAR style aluminum jacks.  But R chose the heavy 3 ton jacks for this assignment.  A tie down strap with a hook on one end and a chain with a hook were wrapped around the concrete blob.  The hook was wedged onto the saddle of the jack (that is the pad that supports the object you're lifting).  

R was on one side operating one jack and I was on the other.  We started lifting the saddles until the slack was out of the strap and chain.  At this point we had no idea how deep the concrete was or if it was wider at the bottom than the top which would prevent it from easily lifting out of the ground.
We slowly start lifting it when we realize that it was not very deep but we soon ran out of lift.  I grabbed some broken pieces of concrete that were in the rock pile and we jammed those under the concrete blob and lowered the jack saddles.  We repositioned the jacks and repeated our procedure.  It was working but we would run out of lift and need to jam more concrete and pavers under the blob.  We did this 3 or 4 times before we had it this far out of the hole.
Now that we had it this far we needed to move it to the side and away from the hole.  R uncovered his hot rod 1982 S10 with a 350cid engine that came out of an old Corvette.  The truck easily pulled it out of the hole.  He could have pulled it across the yard but we first needed to protect a large exposed tree root with a piece of sheet metal.
Once we were over the root we stopped and disconnected from the S10.  We will use our metal snow saucer to haul it away.  The snow saucer slides on top of the lawn and doesn't do any damage.  We use it to move large rocks, too.  One time we had a boulder so big that R had to go to the junkyard to get a scrap car hood. We flipped it over and used it as a mega size saucer to move the boulder.

Now that the concrete blob was gone, we could enlarge the hole.  We were not able to go much deeper because of large roots.  So we had to move to plan C.
We mixed up a half bag of concrete and poured it into the hole spreading it out over the entire 2 1/2 ft wide hole.  Then we dropped a plumb bob from the center of where the post will be so that we could add a piece of threaded rod in the center.  The threaded rod will help connect the new footing to the tube of concrete that we will pour tomorrow.  

Of course the correct way would be to go down below the frost line but that just wasn't an option. This new install will be better than what was there and the old one lasted 90 years so I think we will be OK.
So in between concrete blob moving I painted the fountain with a light grey paint that makes it looks like concrete (sort of) and I stripped the paint off the old post when I wasn't doing this.....
I love these Zero Gravity lounge chairs but mine just finally ripped the sling.  I knew it was coming because the chair is OLD and R's ripped last week.  We both love them.  R has a severe back injury from racing and I just love to lounge.  We usually take a quick siesta in our lounge chairs but today I hit my chair more often.  You can see the ugly windows that we will replace on Wednesday.

The post took two hours to remove all the paint.  It was thick but I found out that the post started out grey, then a lighter grey,  then a white color.  I think the first color combo on the house and barn was an all grey. Everything.  Including trim and window sashes.  That must have been a dark look.


The wood post is still in great condition.  I assume it is fir.  The edges all are chamfered, which I love. Back when this house was built, craftsman added small details like this chamfering.  Of course all the many layers of paint hid this detail. I'll prime the post tomorrow but will wait until after it is re installed to paint it semi gloss white.

Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle