Saturday, October 15, 2011

Ow Gosh

Listening to past Holmes Inspection episodes while you work on your house can make the time go faster.  It also has a way of making you see urgent agenda items in areas you'd been perfectly happy to ignore.

Take the angle between the main block of my brick house and the brick front room, formerly the front porch.  Sometime in the house's history the two began to separate.  Some previous owner tried to rectify the problem by glopping the space full of concrete, and it's looked like hell since before I moved in.  But it's the way things were and I ignored it.  And the concrete patch has been spalling, and a wide-ish crack has been opening up between it and the brick of the house, also probably since before I moved in.  I've paid no attention to that, either.  Lately, I've noticed I can see daylight through that crack in the corner of my basement workshop, but neither has that hasn't gotten much reaction from me.

But here's Mike Holmes holding forth on the gospel of caulk and Keeping the Water Out, and bless me if I am unable merely to be a hearer of the word, I am goaded into being a doer of it as well.

But, oh, gosh! the path of virtue in not smooth, nor is it narrow.  Actually, it's wide and it's deep; it's thick and arduous and very, very tacky.

Which is to say that when I got outside this afternoon to do the job, I followed the directions on the Loctite concrete crack and masonry sealant and set to work cleaning all the loose material out of the crevice.  With that, the fun began.

Did I say "crevice"?  Crevasse, more like it.  Oh, gosh, once I got done rooting out the scree, I could have climbed down into my basement workshop without going around by the door and the stairs.  At worst the opening was about an inch wide and an infinity deep.  Good grief, what was I going to put in there to keep the caulk from falling in?  What if it got dark before I could thick of something?  What if it should rain tonight and flood my basement?  Ohno-ohno-ohno!

The little ½" backer rod I had on hand wasn't going to make it.  Hoping the clear weather held, I jumped in the car and ran up to Lowe's, where I bought 20' of 3/4" backer foam backer rod.  And a second tube of the masonry crack caulk just in case I ran out.

It took four layers of that 3/4" backer stuffed in that crack before I could even think to start the caulking.

"Start the caulking."  What a joke.  No matter how much I pushed, I couldn't get it to come out.  I asked my next door neighbor, and he told me I had to shove something long and skinny down the spout and puncture it.  Weird.  Haven't had to do that with any of the other caulk I've been using.  Never mind, I did it.  More heavy pushing, and the sealant eventually came.  Hellsbells, if it'd been me trying to birth a baby, I would've demanded a C-section.  Had I bought a bad tube of sealant?  Maybe, it's happened before.  Tried the other tube.  Same thing.

Called Lowe's.  Is this stuff supposed to be like this?  Guy in the paint department says that yeah, because it's for masonry and it's like mortar, it is thicker than regular caulk.  OK, but this thick?  He said if I couldn't get it to flow, to bring it back and they'd take a look at it.

Very nice, but it was after 5:00.  I had to get this crack filled before nightfall.  I kept pushing, pushing, pushing, and eventually the stuff came out.  But what an irregular mess!  And how frustratingly sticky!  Ohhh, gosh, was I glad I'd laid in a gallon of mineral spirits, because slopping that on my gloved fingers and using them to "tool" the joint was the only way I got it halfway smooth.  Sure didn't come out of the tube that way.

But at least it's done and the crevice is filled.  Can't see daylight on the inside any more.  And the sealant color is good, a nice grey-beige that kind of matches my brick.  And it smells like chocolate!  And though it looks like hell, it's definitely upper circle compared to what was there before.

I'd hoped to fill the much narrower and neater crack in the corresponding joint on the entry side of the house, but it got too dark.  Did fill a break in the stone step to the side door.  It glares, rather, since the sealant is so much lighter than the old stone, but it'll keep the water out and it'll dirty up eventually.

But if it doesn't firm up and it turns out that was a bad tube of sealant after all-- owwwwww gosh!!!


Karen Anne said...

I think there's some life lesson here. We old house owners see this and eventually get around to fixing it. A new house owner would probably have an anxiety attack.

Kate H. said...

You may have something there. Maybe that's why I blanked it out for so long. Because I knew eventually I would get around to fixing it.

I'm going to take the second tube of sealant back to Lowe's and gripe about it. It's four-five days later, and that joint is still tacky. And no, it wasn't over ½" deep!