Concrete Cutting - Adding a Pre-Cast Concrete Stairway Bulkhead to your HomeWritten by Robert Short
Installing a pre-cast concrete stairway to your home's basement is actually quite an easy project for advanced do-it-yourselfer or anyone that can coordinate a couple of sub contractors. Doing so will add a water tight weather proof egress to your basement that, in many cases, is necessary to comply with local building codes during a remodel. Either way, this newly added entrance will add much more function to your home and your basement.
First of all it is probably a good idea to explain what pre-cast concrete is. Pre-cast concrete is simply concrete that has been mixed, formed and vibrated in a very controlled "plant" type environment and then delivered or trucked to its final destination and installed. Despite fact that some pre-cast concrete products are much thinner than conventional "poured in place" applications does not mean that pre-cast products are any less quality and to contrary they are usually much more durable.
In order to orchestrate this project you are going to need a hole dug, a doorway opening cut into your foundation and actual pre-cast concrete bulkhead delivered and installed. Your first step is to locate a pre-cast concrete product dealer. A pre-cast concrete dealer can be located in your local phonebook, or better yet, your online yellow pages. Once you have located a reputable dealer you need to visit pre-cast manufacturers showroom, which usually consists of a giant field full of stairs, bulkheads and culverts. You need to choose size and style that is right for your project. A standard pre-cast bulkhead will generally cost less than $1000 and this includes steel bulkhead cover and installation.
Once you have chosen right product be sure to ask for a worksheet or specification sheet that comes with your particular product. This "spec sheet" will tell you how much digging needs to be done and what size doorway your concrete cutter needs to cut in foundation. The digging can be done using several methods. You can dig it by hand with a pick and shovel (not recommended), you can rent a small excavator (cost about $300) from a tool rental outfit and use machine to dig it out or you can call a professional excavation contractor and have them dig it out for you (cost between $300 and $500). I highly recommend hiring a professional excavator for this part of project. This process will take a professional less than a few hours and you can shop around for best price. Please Note: Be sure to notify your areas "DIG SAFE" program and have them come out and locate any hidden underground utilities before you start your excavation. Also, keep in mind that your excavator will have to remove and dispose of about 50% of dirt that he/she removes from hole because bulkhead to be installed will take up about that much volume of space. If this is not feasible, you may be able to use this dirt somewhere else on your property or you may be able to give it to one of your neighbors. Either way, fill dirt is a very needed and sought after commodity. Hence old saying: Phil Dirt...the most wanted man in America.
Shower Walls - Problems and SolutionsWritten by Mark Davies
Showers can be a problem area for many householders. Although it will look pristine when new, a shower cubicle or over bath shower area can start to deteriorate and look shabby after a few years of use. The grout used between ceramic tiles can start to discolour, black spots start to appear in silicone sealant and damp patches may appear around outside of glass enclosure.
What are causes of these problems?
Grout is one of main culprits. Although ceramic tiles are totally waterproof same cannot be said for all types of grout – especially if it is not correctly applied. One small gap or pinhole can be enough to start letting in moisture, and once this occurs mould can take hold and start to spread behind tiles. The degree to which it spreads will depend on level of moisture present.
Grout can also be a problem if shower wall has been built out of plywood. Plywood expands at a different rate to tiles and this can lead to grout cracking and letting in moisture.
If grout is used as a sealant between bottom of tiles and top surface of rim of shower tray or bath, this can also cause problems. Acrylic baths or shower trays flex very slightly during use, whereas grout will not tolerate any movement, and so cracks instantly. Wooden joists and floorboards will also move slightly under load or due to expansion, which again can lead to grout cracking.
Silicone sealant should remain mould free in a well-ventilated shower area. If black spots start to grow in seal it indicates presence of moisture – usually trapped moisture behind seal. This could mean that silicone seal has lost adhesion to one or more surfaces due to high levels of movement or poor preparation prior to its application. It could also be a symptom of grout failure further up wall, rather than any problem with silicone itself.