Prevent a Sinking Concrete Driveway
LESLIE: We’ve got Mike in Utah. What’s happening at your money pit?
MIKE: Great. Hey, part of my driveway fell in. It happened since we moved into the house.
TOM: Fell in.
MIKE: Yes, we ended up moving the driveway and the contractors didn’t compact the soil very well.
MIKE: So it’s so deep we finally had to break up the concrete and right now the concrete’s in a pile in that hole. We’re going to take that away and re-pour that portion of the driveway.
MIKE: And I wanted to get an idea of the process as to how to pour that. I’ve read something – a little something about that on the internet. Said something about screeing it and whatever and some of the process is newer to me so I was hoping you could help me with a basic concept.
TOM: Well, couple of things. First of all, the surface; it’s really critical that it be properly prepped. Are you planning on mechanically tamping the soil before you put the new driveway in?
MIKE: Given the problems we’ve had in the past I thought perhaps we should. I was going to put down some road base or gravel then rent something to tamp it.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, I think that mechanically tamping this is absolutely critical and then you need to decide if you’re going to reinforce it. We would recommend reinforcing it and that would be with a woven wire mesh that’s installed so it’s supported up into the bed of concrete.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. How do you get the two – if this is a section of concrete that sort of collapsed away from the rest of the drive, how do you get the two to sort of play nicely together so you don’t see this big seam or …?
TOM: Well, do you have a seam between the two?
MIKE: They didn’t put a – the contractor did not put a seam down the center of the driveway.
MIKE: And so we’ve broken up to the first panel.
TOM: Yeah, if there’s a natural crack or a natural joint that would be the place to do it. And you’re going to put a piece of asphalt seaming material in between that. Looks like sort of like a thick, black tar strip that goes between. That would be placed in between the sections. That will help it move independently. But I would reinforce it before you pour it and if you do a good job packing the soil and if you reinforce it and you have a good concrete finisher then you ought to be able to match this up pretty nice and have it stay put and not settle again.
MIKE: And is that wire mesh something that would be prepurchased at a home store?
TOM: Oh, yeah, yeah. Yeah. Listen, if this is not something you’re real familiar with – how big is this patch?
MIKE: About 8×10.
LESLIE: That’s huge.
TOM: Yeah, you know, this is not – this may not be a do-it-yourself project if you’re not familiar with this because if you make mistakes with concrete they’re hard to fix.
LESLIE: And that’s going to require a lot of concrete.
TOM: Yeah, it is. It’s probably – I haven’t figured it out but it’s probably a couple of yards; at least two or three yards at least for an 8×10 piece.
LESLIE: And especially since it’s going into one section you would want to mix that all at once, correct?
TOM: Yeah, absolutely. You know, it has to be – the forms have to be set up; the wire mesh has to be in place; the pour has to be done; the concrete has to be sort of screed. Basically what happens is that you use big floats and sort of shakes it so that the gravel – the aggregate falls to the bottom and the concrete sort of mix, the soup sort of rises to the top. And then when it’s finished you get a very smooth, nice surface but the rocks are embedded in the concrete. So it’s not really a do-it-yourself job. If you have not poured concrete before and worked with trucks I would not recommend you do this yourself. I’d have a pro do it for you. You’re going to be a lot happier at the way it comes out.
MIKE: OK. I have worked on a concrete project before; helping a neighbor pour a driveway. Not totally intimidated. (INAUDIBLE) that. If I was foolish enough to do that by myself, can you recommend a good resource to just learn the basic concepts?
TOM: Well, I’ll tell you what we’ll do to help you out. We’re going to give you, for calling in today, one of our Money Pit American Homeowners Association memberships. There’s a great library that’s part of this that’s online. If you go to MoneyPit.com and you click on the membership link you will get right there and this also has lots of cool services associated with it, including the ability to find prescreened concrete – prescreened concrete contractors, actually, to help you …
LESLIE: That was a mouthful.
TOM: … and as well as other types of contractors to help you with these sorts of services. It includes discounts on insurance and groceries and food and free shipping on internet purchases. And it’s a great sort of like – it’s a AAA kind of thing for home ownership. We’re going to give that to you for calling in today and that will help you both learn how to do these projects and also find some pros, if you choose to go that route, to make sure it’s done correctly. How’s that sound?
MIKE: That’s awesome. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Want you to stand by and we will take your name. You’re going to call the membership service center at 866-Real-Home. Give them your name and they will hook you up with that Money Pit American Homeowners Association membership and, by the way, for any of those that are listening that would like to try out the membership, it’s available for free for 30 days and it includes $50 worth of Zircon tools just for giving it a shot. Learn more at MoneyPit.com or call 866-Real-Home.
Thanks for calling, Mike.
MIKE: Great, thank you.