Between a House and a Hard Place

Before winter hits, we had one last (major) outdoor project to complete.  And in true Northeastern Ohio fashion, once fall hit, we've had about 1 nice day, every two weeks or so.  The rest has been all rain and once even a threat of snow.  Which are the two reasons we had to do this project in the first place.  So, since last Tuesday we found ourselves sitting pretty with sunny 65 degrees, it was go time.

The task was to fix the drainage problem next to our foundation between the house and driveway.  You can see the little half sidewalk/half mulch strip below:

The problem was the sidewalk part sloped towards the house which allowed water from rain and melted snow to flow down the drive, then against the house.  Not to mention our sump pump drain that you can see peeking out of the mulch in the bottom left of the photo above.  The mulch then allowed the water to drain down against the foundation.  Which had caused some leaks into the basement.  Lucky us.

While Mike didn't have any problem digging up the mulch and using some grout to fill in the deteriorated block to fix the leaking water, this didn't fix the bigger problem of the water, and left as-is, would only reappear later.

The solution was to remove the sidewalk, (I realize it's not a sidewalk, more like a driveway extension, but neither really make sense, so it's a sidewalk for now), and the mulch and replace with a more-appropriately sloped concrete slab.  We talked through a lot of different options like a stone base with a perforated pipe for slow drainage, or filling it in with lots of plants that would suck up all the water.  But the stones could become a nuisance and in large amounts, the water would still sit against the foundation.  And in the winter, when the chance of snow and melting is there, all the plants would be dead, duh.  So concrete was the way to go again.

Mike went old school and used a sledgehammer to break-up the concrete and piled them all by hand.

Before getting too ahead of himself, (and before we built the deck), he dug a trench to tie in the sump pump drain to the downspout drains that terminated back in the back yard in our dry well.

He dug a little tunnel right under that piece of concrete that was already there and fed the pipe through to the back of the house.

He then backfilled it with dirt and it's sat like that during our deck construction.  When we finally decided on our plan Mike dug out the depth he wanted and drilled holes about a foot deep into the existing driveway and placed 2-foot pieces of rebar into them.  This would allow the poured concrete to become a part of the existing driveway.  He also added some welded-wire for reinforcement.  He then added an expansion joint against the house, which for those that don't understand the properties of concrete, allows movement of the slab, without pushing against our foundation. 

Since we were short of time with bad weather coming, Mike took a half day at work, (don't worry he's been working most weekends, so he's definitely put in the hours) and scheduled for two yards of concrete to be delivered.

The truck arrived while I was home for lunch and Mike very quickly realized that he needed help, so I ran out in my work clothes and {wo}maned the shoot.  Which means, Mike was calf-deep in concrete while I stood on the driveway and moved the shoot back and forth and motioned to the driver to move up the drive for an even distribution.

Here's the moment that Mike realized he was in trouble and needed my help:

Once I got my groove I was fine, but let's just say I'm not going to quit my day job.  Which was why as soon as the concrete was poured, my lunch hour was over and I had to go back to work.  Our neighbor came over just before I left and was able to help even out the concrete while Mike screed and finished it.  I quickly snapped some photos on my blackberry camera before leaving to show you how they finished it.

For those wondering, the big triangle cut out of the driveway is because of some cracks in the drive that turned into corners that were completely cracked off.  Mike used a partner saw to cut out the drive to repour.

After work, I came home to a completely finished slab, that sloped away from the house and had a small curb against the house to further prevent water from sitting against the foundation.  A couple coats of cure and seal and some cuts with the partner saw and we were able to cross off the last major outdoor project of the season.

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