Monday, April 8, 2013

April Showers -- Under-floor Plumbing -- Half-a-Basement Floor

April showers may eventually bring those May flowers. [I think there are a few square feet of the 3283  landscaping un-smooshed by heavy equipment.] But along with today's rain came Ben from Bob Tolsma Plumbing to install the first of the new plumbing and a lot of work by the B.F. Masonry guys who poured about half of the basement floor.

Most of the plumbing in the cottage can drain normally [by gravity] to the septic system. But the floor drain in the basement and any future plumbing we might eventually want to put in the lower level will have to be pumped up to reach the drain line leading to the septic tank and field.

Before the basement floor could be completed the sanitary lift pump and piping that would be underneath needed to be installed.  Ben installed the pump and lines that will serve the floor drain. He also connected lines to "rough in" locations for a possible future bathroom [toilet and sink] and a drain line for a possible second utility sink.  While finishing the basement is not in the current plans we felt that it was important to set things up for the future.

Water -- and and the stuff it carries -- flows downhill.
So, the sanitary lift pump needs to be at the lowest point in the house.
Ben is digging the hole where the pump will reside.
The rough-in for the bathroom was completed very close to the pump.
The long line leads to a floor drain and a stub into which  a  utility sink could be  connected.

We kept all the plumbing north of the center wall so that the south "room" may someday be able to be more easily finished. Today the floor in the south half of the basement....and the portion under the front porch were  poured.  That is -- after the guys spent a couple hours preparing the surface for the concrete.   Exact grade was set. It was dampened and compacted. Plastic sheathing covered the sand. And the big concrete truck slid its chute through the opening in the east wall.

Elevation for the basement has been set a number of times:
for the bottom of the original excavation,
for the forming of the footings and
for the setting of the first course of block.
Today the grade lines were set for the elevation of the top of the basement floor. 
Once sand was leveled it was compacted.
This redi-mix truck driver has visited the site a few times.
He is very good at threading the needle with the concrete chute and openings in the walls.

Concrete for the floor under the front porch still had to be moved by wheelbarrow once it left the chute.
To reach most of the floor the crew attached an extension to the trucks chute.
The finishing process is complex and time consuming.  And I'm not sure I am able to properly describe all the steps. But, of course, I'm going to try.

Before the concrete is poured a set of iron pipe rails are set in place at the final level of the floor. Then the concrete is shoveled and pushed into place covering these rails. A crew member levels the surface by pulling a board across the rails.  Then the surface is "floated" to begin the smoothing process.

The pipe rails can be seen as the concrete is moved into place.
The concrete is being leveled by the two guys at the right
while more is being poured down the chute  and pushed into place.
As one of the crew fills and levels the spot where the leveling rails were pulled  out,
another floats the surface.
The final step...or to use a power trowel the surface to give the floor a even smooth finish.  After the concrete set up an hour or so it was ready to bring in the heavy equipment. The surface was smoothed with a power trowel over most of the area and by hand troweling in corners and tight spaces.  I'm not sure how many separate times the troweling occurred....but I feel like it was about three. Much of the afternoon was spent 'finishing' the floor.

The power trowel -- or power finisher -- covered the floor more than once.
It's actually a pretty cool machine .....
At the end of the day there was a basement -- with floor -- completed under about half of the home.

Having lived in a tri-level home for 40ish years I definitely had a big smile on my face at the end of the day as I looked at the basement coming together.


  1. You have a basement! It's kinda hard to believe it's the same place. You're doing a great job, Dad!

  2. I second the motion. John has been great to work for.

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