Living Around a Fireplace InstallationLiving Around a Fireplace Installation

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Living Around a Fireplace Installation

I happen to know a thing or two about living in a home while a new fireplace is being installed. It takes some time for the process to be completed, and the inconvenience can feel pretty intense, but there are tips and tricks you can use to make the process easier on the entire family – like turn a bedroom into the living room (if the living room is where your new fireplace is going, of course) when the construction gets a little loud. In the fifty years that I've lived in this home, I have experienced my fair share of home improvement projects. I decided that maybe some of my experience can help others who are looking to complete their own projects, like installing a new fireplace. Enjoy!

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How To Repair A Cracked Concrete Wall In Your Basement

If you have a cracked concrete wall in your basement, then you need to address the damage as soon as possible. Besides being unsightly, cracks can permit moisture to enter through the wall. Repairing the damage isn't difficult as long as you use the right tools and materials to complete the job. Below is what you will need as well as more information on how to perform the repair:

Tools and materials needed

  • Brick and block trowel

  • ½-inch cold chisel

  • 3-pound sledge hammer

  • Eye protection

  • Flat-blade screwdriver

  • Grout sponge

  • Alkaline-based concrete cleaning solution

  • Empty spray bottle

  • Wet/dry vacuum

  • Five-gallon bucket

  • Electric drill with mixing paddle attachment

  • 10-pound bag of mortar mix

  • Aerosol can of expanding foam

Step-by-step procedure

1. Expand the width and depth of crack -  The mortar mix will not properly fill and adhere to a narrow crevice, so you will need to expand the crack to increase its available surface area. While wearing eye protection, remove the edges alongside the crack with a cold chisel and small sledge hammer. Cut about ½-inch into the concrete and make the crack about ½-inch to ¾-inch wide. Be sure to remove jagged edges and chips; this will help stabilize the site.

2. Clean the crack and nearby areas - Once you have chiseled out the crack, vacuum it thoroughly to remove dust and small chips. Next, spray the crack with a mixed solution of 50-percent water and 50-percent concrete cleaner. Allow the solution to sit undisturbed for at least 30 minutes, then vacuum away the solution and the residue removed from the concrete. Finally, spray the area thoroughly with clean water to remove all traces of the solution and allow the site to air dry.

3. Fill the crevice with expanding foam - To provide a good seal inside the wall and prevent water intrusion, insert expanding foam into the interior of the crack with its attached tube. If you accidentally apply too much foam, remove the excess with the edge of your trowel. Push any protruding foam back into the crevice with a flat-blade screwdriver.

4. Mix and apply mortar to the crack - After the expanding foam has been applied and any excess removed, you are ready to fill the surface of the crevice with mortar mix. Pour about two quarts of water into a five gallon bucket, then slowly add dry mortar mix to the bucket. Begin stirring the contents using an electric drill with a mixing paddle, and continue to add mortar mix and/or water to the bucket until the mixture consistency becomes that of peanut butter. You can test the thickness by scooping a small amount with your trowel; if it doesn't slide off the trowel, then it should be ready to use.

To apply the mortar, scoop a small amount of mortar using the backside of your trowel, then push it into the crevice. Spread the mortar evenly over the top of the crack, and be sure to fill in any voids that may appear as you work. After filling all the gaps, rub the backside of a clean trowel over the entire area so the mortar blends in with the surrounding concrete.

5. Finish the surface of the repair site - Once you have applied all the mortar, allow it to dry for about ten minutes. Next, dampen a clean grout sponge with water, then wring the sponge to remove excess water. Lightly rub the sponge over the surface of the repair using a circular motion; this will help pull out the grain of the mortar and blend its appearance with the surrounding concrete. If you desire, the repair site can be painted, but allow the mortar mix to cure for at least 30 days before painting. This will give the mortar plenty of time to shed moisture and be ready to accept paint.

For more advice, speak with professionals like Mara Restoration, Inc.