Winter weather returned – twice – before we got a break sufficiently conducive to the pouring of concrete.  Finally the big day arrived!  It was mostly successful, with only a few minor setbacks which ultimately were not a big deal, but were very consternating at the time.  The “issues” that remain are cosmetic in nature, and since the upcoming fill of dirt around both sides of the wall will eventually hide the majority of them I’m not going to fret about it.  Another learning experience to add to my collection!  Here’s how the event progressed:


The driver prepares to dump the concrete.


Jim, who built the formwork, made a hopper out of scrap plywood to help guide the concrete into the form. He was on hand to assist with the pour. Here it comes!


Jim repositions the hopper for the second load.


Things were going pretty good until the decision was made to add more water to the mix. The extra weight may or may not have contributed to a blowout at the bottom of the form as we worked toward the concrete block retaining wall. The other potentially causal factor may have been the lack of form ties which someone assured me we wouldn’t need due to the low height of the wall.  This occurred about the same time that the driver ran out of concrete because I had underestimated the amount needed. I used an online calculator and didn’t know to “round up” as I should have (the last time I had concrete poured, there was an excess amount left over which was problematic to get rid of). So, while the driver went back to town to get more, Jim and I staked the form and added bar clamps to get the form into a shape closely resembling what was intended.


Then we floated the top of the wall to smooth what had been poured so far. When the formwork blew out, the west end of the south side was lifted about an inch and a half; we used a level to compensate.


Previously I had made anchor supports out of termite-riddled 2x4s which I had salvaged from the basement partitions. These will position the anchor bolts right where I want them.


Here is the first one in place.


When the blowout occurred, a small concrete block was loosened; it can be repointed later. The hose going into the wall will provide a conduit for wiring which will be snaked through it in the future.


Eventually the formwork was removed. I’ll be recycling it by turning it into a subfloor for the kitchen when I get to that project!


This is how the finished product looks. I’m still spraying it with water to keep it damp as it cures. The forecast calls for rain for the next two days, so the weather is cooperating with the curing process!


This is the least attractive portion of the wall. I should have used a concrete vibrator but didn’t bother to take the time to get one, thinking it wouldn’t be necessary on such a small pour. Right now I’m squinting my eyes and trying to chalk it up as “character”, but if it is still bothering me later I can parge over it with portland cement. The formwork at the doorway opening still needs to come down.  This doorway will be accessed from the future entry vestibule.


While the end result is not as perfect or beautiful as I had hoped for, it is level and will definitely work.  Most of the trouble spots will be hidden by future dirt work and construction.


All in all it was a good experience and not even once did I have to remind Jim of the sign (temporarily) placed on the front door!


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