Thursday, May 31, 2012

Day 9 - Concrete Pour in ICF Walls

Since the concrete was only arriving early-to-mid-afternoon, I only arrived at the site just after lunch.  The guys had been there only a little bit before and were getting all the last minute details in place, like ensuring all the vertical rebar was installed correctly, all the window bracing was in place, all the extra bracing was in place and, should we need it, extra wood available in case of a blow-out.  The concrete pump truck was also getting itself set up and into place.  Then, just like that, Mr.W was pouring the concrete. 

He had the hose from the pump so he was pouring all the concrete in the walls, Jay was in charge of the vibrator, Mr.B was assisting Jay with the vibrator and my job was to supervise!  Actually, my job was to walk around the outside of the house while the concrete was being poured and watch to ensure no bulging was happening or no blow-out was about to happen.  Though I really didn't feel like I was doing anything, it was quite nerve-wracking.  I have never watched concrete being poured into an ICF wall before - the whole wall vibrates and shakes as the concrete enters it.  And why shouldn't it?  That concrete is entering it at a great speed and with much force - when it hits the insides of those walls, they are bound to move.  I was just not used to it.  As time went on, I gradually came to understand what was acceptable and what wasn't.  A little bit of concrete seeping out of tiny cracks here and there is to be expected.  The whole wall pushing itself apart isn't and might require additional bracing.  Though we did have to add a couple of pieces of extra bracing mid-pour, everything turned out just fine.  A rather uneventful pour, actually.  Just the way we want them.  I would say the only "excitement" was watching the extra-large concrete truck drive back and forth up and down the driveway, making bigger and bigger ruts each time and wondering if he was indeed going to get stuck.  Turns out he didn't but the driveway is a mess.  Again.

Mr.W poured concrete about 4' high the first time around the house and the second pass around he filled it up.  That allowed the bottom layer of concrete to set up a little and, therefore, help stabilize the walls. 

Jay's job was to vibrate the concrete around each window opening to ensure there would be no voids in the concrete and to vibrate ahead of Mr.W on the second pass around to ensure the "old" and "new" concrete would mix. 

Once the concrete had filled up the walls, my job was to scree the concrete.  It was super easy and reminded me of icing a cake! 

Once the concrete was screed, Mr.W set up his laser level to ensure the top of the wall was indeed completely level.  Jay went around and double checked that each wall was level on the top, not trusting the tops of the Fox Blocks but trusting the laser level instead. 

Mr.W also attached a pink string (I picked it up this morning and my choices were white, neon green and neon pink - I picked pink!) on the outside of the wall from one corner of the wall to the other so as to know how to adjust the bracing for the walls.  By turning on the yellow bracing rods on the inside of the walls, you can make the wall move forward or backward exactly where you want it.  You want that wall to be the exact same distance away from the string all around.  Then you have a perfectly straight wall. 

Finally, with the extra concrete, I quickly whipped up some very large rhubarb stepping stones before racing to pick up the kids and make it to soccer in time. 

Today for the first time since we started this project over a week ago, the kids stayed with grandma and grandpa so I could concentrate on the pour and not worry about them and what they were doing.  While I was away at soccer and getting the kids in bed, Jay continued to make stepping stones (15 more) and levelled the driveway as best he could from the HUGE ruts the concrete trucks left.  Now we are both exhausted.  Happy and exhausted!  We have basement walls!

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