Saturday, July 31, 2010

The joys of fixing mistakes in cement.

I made a mistake when I designed the cement floor of the 30 x 70 shop.  This is not really surprising since I am almost  a rank amateur.  And even the pro's slip up and have to take remedial action once in a while.

I had this great idea for the slab at the "garage" end of the shop.  Vehicles, especially in the winter, bring in ice and snow and water and generally make a mess.  My idea was to put a drain in the floor and slope the cement toward the drain.  Poof, self cleaning floor.  The water would magically take care of itself.  And it does that admirably.

The problem is, there is about 15" of cement floor that sticks out past the big roll-up garage door.  Since it is outside, yet slopes toward the drain, which is inside, it funnels rain water inside the building.  Every time it rains or snows, this moisture migrates inside and gets the sill plates and drywall wet immediately adjacent to the door.

Drywall can't stand much water, and wood framing isn't improved by getting repeatedly wet either, even though it is pressure treated to resist rot and so on.

This simply will not do.  So, how shall we fix this little error in judgement?

Shave a little bit of the cement off, to make it drain away  to the outside, where it belongs.  They make a special, diamond coated cement blade that you install on a circular saw, like so:

And, since I have a 16 year old son who needs money for college:

We made a deal.  Here is the result.  A bunch of slots cut in the cement.  We made a wedge shaped jig for the saw to run on, to control the depth of the slot.  So instead of sloping to the inside at 1/2" per foot, it now slopes to the outside at 3/4" per foot.  We will have to remove all the little cement bits between every kerf.

Fortunately, I happen to own an electric jackhammer.  Here's a little video clip of the bits flying off under the ministrations of the beast.  It is the heaviest "portable" tool I own.

It's too bad our little Nikon CoolPix camera doesn't record any sound with the video clips, since the jackhammer makes the most satisfying chunkchunkchunkchunkchunkchunkchunkchunkchunkchunk sound.  While it was handy to have the jackhammer, a plain old six dollar hammer and a two dollar chisel would have done the same thing in a couple of hours (instead of 20 minutes). 

Here it is after removing all the bits.  You can sort of make out that it now slopes away from the building instead of into the building.

Here's a close up.  We (by we, I mean my 16 year old son) did some grinding to knock off the high spots so I can run a snow shovel over this part without snagging the rough surface too much.  This is before the treatment with the grinder so it looks a bit rough.
It has now rained several times, and the shop has remained satisfyingly dry.  If we keep our framing dry, replace the roof every 25-30 years, replace the siding every fifty years or so, we have every reason to think this superinsulated, ultra-energy-conserving building will still be saving energy 100-200 years from now.  It is incumbent upon us to stop thinking about what  a building or house will cost to purchase or build and live in for 5 years, or even 20 years.  We must start thinking about lifetime energy use for heating and cooling, and the cost of energy to replace a building (embodied energy).

After all, the resources do not belong to me, or to you, they belong to the Master and Creator of the universe.  I am just a steward.

Finest regards,


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