Sometimes it gets "interesting" ....

Discussion in 'General Survival and Preparedness' started by dragonfly, Oct 28, 2010.


  1. dragonfly

    dragonfly Monkey+++

    I hope that's a good word for it anyway!
    I received a call this evening....It seems that a certain individual was determined to build themselves a "patio" before "winter" set in.
    Now generally speaking, a "patio" is not a big affair, and can be built "normally" in say 2 maybe 3 days. Less if you have "help" that is somewhat "competent".
    NOTE: all the quotation marks? You'll see why!
    This patio was begun around noon today, (wednesday) and should have been well on it's way ...However, the 2 people involved in building it spent most of the time arguing over the design, and the materials being used.
    By 10 pm Phoenix time, the caller was "concerned' about the "quikrete" product he had used.
    4 x 4 posts, some 8+ ft tall, were placed into 5 gallon plastic buckets, and the mixed "quikrete" was poured into those buckets....( 9 bags, mixed according to directions, "they say", in a wheelbarrow!)
    According to this person, this was done at 2 in the afternoon.....
    He stated that at 10 pm, the concrete had still not "set" and was curious as to why...
    I asked him what the temperature currently was and if they had some severe rain, or, weather fluctutations recently.
    Well, it seems it was only about 54 degrees, or less, when the 6 posts were set in the buckets and the concrete was poured in.
    The temperature at 10 pm was 34 degrees!
    He poked his finger into one of the buckets ( filled to their tops), and discovered that the concrete was not only still the same consistency as when he had poured it, it now had some 1/2 inch of ice crystals forming on the top!
    He was confused as to why it had not set, and how could ice begin to form on concrete!
    Then I had to ask him questions I was almost afraid to ask...
    What was the weight of one of those 4 x 4 's when you bought it?
    Did it feel heavier than it should have?
    Did it feel wet or sticky?
    Yes! He said those 4 x 4's were at least 40 lbs! ( yikes!)
    They felt very wet, but not sticky, and they were all in a stack of others at Home Depot. ( I have been there before!)
    Well, some people are not builders, not by any means, and I am no carpenter as far as any real major construction.
    But, I have had 2 x 4's as well as 4 x 4 s that I mistakenly bought "wet", that not only cracked, but almost exploded in my garage overnight!
    It sounded like a rifle going off! That was in the summer here, and somehow the rapidly expanding water/steam? caused a rapid expansion the likes I had never heard of or seen before!
    He asked me what to expect....
    I told him the following:
    IF the wood has a large amount of water inside and it freezes, it can easily crack. ? If the concrete and water separates due to freezing, it could break the plastic buckets, ? it could force the concrete up and out of the bucket like a "pushup" popsicle, ? Or, it could cause the wood to absorb even more water and cause the 4 x 4's to be ruined. ?
    Maybe, all of the above. ?
    In any case, I personally expect the concrete to be ruined.
    He was not at all enthused about any of my answers....
    Now, the temperature in the town 15 miles south of his land, is 34 degrees....He is out in the open desert! I certainly think with ANY wind ( and they get winds, up to 50+ mph) freezing is certainly going to happen. I know personally about using concrete, and the force of freezing water...
    I am not sure about what will happen, I can only surmise due to his answers....Something is going to happen!

    Now, what on earth does this have to do with a "survival" topic?
    Good question!

    I found it strange that ANYONE not familiar with weather, ( when they have spent over a year in that area), the winds, and having little knowledge about concrete, would try to do this, just as WINTER has begun!??? Beginner's comes to mind!
    This is the very sort of thing that gets a lot of people into trouble!
    It will cost/waste time, money and labor, which all could have been done earlier in the year ( summer, or fall!) and when in doubt, ask first!
    For the next week, the temperatures up there will be in the low 50's and 40's, and stay 20 degrees or more colder at night!
    I had already asked why this was not considered, and why attempt to set posts in concrete in the cold weather.
    I was told their first thought was to move the buckets with 90 lbs of concrete and 4 x 4's into a mobile home with an 8 ft ceiling!
    Yeah, well, they rapidly found out that those "bail" handles on those orange ( Home Depot) 5 gallon buckets were NOT made to carry 90 lbs of wet concrete, regardles of the 4 x 4's! Besides, they were way too tall to go thru the doorway, ( spillage on a grand scale!), and they would not sit flat/level on the floor inside, unless they punched holes in the ceiling!
    Oh, yeah I forgot to mention, Neither one of the 2 can lift 90 lbs!
    Now, AFTER THE FACT, I was consulted, as to why it happened, what else could happen, what's the worst case scenario....
    I don't know what the temperature was up there last night, But, I figure it was cold. I asked what the temperature of the water was, that they had used to mix the concrete with.....COLD!!!
    Hmmmmm.....
    Now, these "people" are considered to be "survivalist" types, as far as they are concerned.
    IF these people are any "representation" of the "survivalist types" out there, I think this could be beneficial, after the "smell" goes away.....
    Lot's of equipment, firearms, ammo, and maybe even a few food items would still be left, after their demise!
    I do NOT expect them to last very long at all!
    I know a lot of you here have a lot more experience and knowledge than I do with concrete and cold weather...Maybe a few carpenters too, I'd hazard a guess!
    Your thoughts on this fiasco?
     
  2. BadgeBunny

    BadgeBunny Monkey+

    I know enough about concrete and construction to know that the wise thing for me to do is leave it to the professionals. We all have areas of self-sufficiency skills we need to work on (or have knowledgeable friends). This is one of those areas for me.

    All I know to say about this is "oh, my ..." I have had conversations similar to this with some people who thought they could butcher 50 chickens in an afternoon (two of them, no experience ... well, I guess they DID have experience if you count the youtube video they watched before they started) ...
     
  3. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn Mosquito Sailor

    Knowledge is power. An extensive "How to" reference library is a must. Experience is the best teacher. We all make mistakes now and then, and some can be rather expensive. Leaving it to the professionals and experts is fine if you have tons of money. Start with smaller projects and build your confidence. Learn to do it yourself. Those experts and professionals won't be there post SHTF. Proper concrete is not alchemy. JMHO
     
  4. dragonfly

    dragonfly Monkey+++

    I have been involved in several large "yardage" pours, for driveways for gas stations, building floors and such...And we always had the manpower from start to finish, and had someone that knew what had to be done, when, where and why. I have spent a lot of time "floating" and "coloring" a lot of concrete! ( I hate curbs!) But, it's mostly elbow grease! Not alot of brain, but a whole lot of braun involved! Backbreaking at times....Make a single mistake and you can end up on the end of a jackhammer for a few days removing an "uh-oh"! I have ONLY had experience with rain and concrete, where the "boss" orderded '3300 slump' ( weight per cubic yard I suppose)?, and it looked really nasty and was cold, so he had the company mix in chlorine to make it set faster...IT DID! As soon as it came off the truck chute and hit the ground, it went off! (I spent 2 weeks removing that mess!) Now when it comes to pouring underwater, I have never had a real probem.
    But, when it comes to Freezing, I have NO idea what can or might happen!
     
  5. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn Mosquito Sailor

    All my concrete work has been here in Florida. Freezing temperatures are rare and of short duration. I have never seen it freezing at noon.... EVER. I have awoke to 1/2" of snow on the ground in Jacksonville in May, and it was gone shortly after the sun came up.
    .
    My bug in bunker (new house) is a massive chunk of concrete....lol
     
  6. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    If you really want to know about concrete, I can fill in some of the details. Mix design is almost a black art, but well founded by past practice as well as with cutting edge admixtures. Quick and dirty then:
    -Use 4000 lbs per cu yd, close enough.
    -Slump is a physical measurement taken with standard tools and methods, and in effect assesses the amount of water in the mix by the fluidity as it comes off the truck. Too much water increases slump, too low slump indicates either too little water or too long since batching.
    -Freezing will stop the reaction cold, so to say, and setting won't proceed properly. However, concrete puts out heat while curing, and it doesn't take a lot of insulation to keep it from freezing. We poured many acres of slab with hay spread on to keep the heat in and prevent surface damage. Depending, cure can restart after thawing, but not something to count on since measurement will then be destructive and expensive, and the surface will be lost.
    -Underwater placement is not at all difficult, but does take some special methods.
    -Placing concrete in the rain isn't too much trouble, either. Get a finisher on it and cover with plastic sheet to prevent rain drops from marring the surface. 'Course, you don't do that in downpours, you wait them out.
    -In baking heat of Phoenix, the surface can be damaged if left to dry out in the sun, and cure won't restart without water remaining in the mix. Wet it and cover with plastic sheet to keep the moisture in. High temps alone won't hurt much, but far better to pour around dawn so initial set can take place before full sun. Mix design is crucial in the application.
    -Adding chlorides to the mix is fatal when the engineer finds out. Bad juju all around, strength is adversley affected, and dramatically so.

    Dunno what that "3300 slump" is meant to reflect, we didn't use non-standard terminology.
     
  7. dragonfly

    dragonfly Monkey+++

    Thanks ghrit!
    I was not really sure what may happen if the concrete can't set in a certain span of time, or remained frozen for any time! Looks like someone's gonna have a helluva mess on their hands! As soon as I hear thei AM about the wood, I'll let everyone know how things made it thru the night!
    Could be bad!
     
  8. dragonfly

    dragonfly Monkey+++

    Well...the concrete froze!
    The buckets split....
    The concrete ( I have been informed) looks like baby powder now...
    Back to the ole' drawin' board!
     
  9. BadgeBunny

    BadgeBunny Monkey+

    You are right, knowledge is power. And part of being a knowledgeable, responsible person is knowing when you have the skills to do something right and when you don't. However it costs a ton of money to do something the wrong way and then pay someone else to fix it. I have no problem learning to do something myself. But I'll be damned if my ego is so delicate that I waste my time and money on a project that is WAY over my head, like these folks did.

    However, like all things in life, YMMV ...
     
  10. dragonfly

    dragonfly Monkey+++

    Well, I guess those 4 x 4's were wet after all.....!
    They split in almost their entire length! All 6 of them!
    For the "header", they screwed 2-2x6's 20 ft long together (wet of course!) and could not understand why they had a bow that was almost 2 feet in size...They said they managed to push it in with the 4 x 4 upright posts!
    Today, "they" beagn to put on the "sheathing" for the roof, the first (I thought) of 2...BUT, I was wrong again!
    The wood they used was 3/8 inch osb....Yeah that should work!
    2 feet of snow on the roof! No problems!
    No tarred felt, no sealer, no paint, nada! No plans to put roll shingles on either.....Maybe, later he will put on some corrugated metal panels....maybe.
    "They" ran into a small problem however, seems that 1 person of the 2, can't read a tape measure! When "they" had the roof nearly covered, the last few sheets were coming up a bit "SHORT"!
    Seems that when they built the frame work ( 2 x 6 rafters) the end result was: one end being 12 feet wide, the opposite end was 12 ft 6 inches wide!
    Now that's just funny!
    So, I get a call this evening and was asked how a "square" works!
    DOH!
    A bit late in the "game" to begin to ask quesions now I think!
    But I'm no carpenter, certainly not a roofer by any means....
    what do I know anyway?
    I wonder, how much weight a 3/8 inch osb board can handle when wet, spaced on 2 ft centers?
    Earlier he argued that he could not find the studs in the walls, as they are ALL built on 12 inch centers, at least everywhere he has ever lived!
    I told him to LOOK at his tape measure, "see those red markings on 16, 32 and 48 inches"? I asked, him, "do you know why"? He thinks I'm crazy! "No one ever built a wall with studs on 16 inch centers"!
    I love it !!!
    He thinks putting roof rafters ( he calls them trusses) on 24 inch centers is his IDEA!
    SNORT!!!!
     
  11. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    What planet are these birds from?
     
  12. dragonfly

    dragonfly Monkey+++

    Actually, the GENIUS of the 2 is originally from Michigan, but moved to California as a kid ( explains his condition?) The other one with the inability to read a tape measure, I have NO idea!
    Scary huh?
     
  13. BadgeBunny

    BadgeBunny Monkey+

    OMGosh, DF, sounds like you need to unplug the phone and dig a moat around your place! LOL
     
  14. Witch Doctor 01

    Witch Doctor 01 Mojo Maker

    DF you could stand to make a little $$ offer to provide "Management" of the project... you could get rich from the projected cost over runs...[peep]
     
  15. Nadja

    Nadja RIP 3-11-2013 Forum Leader

    Concrete Funnies

    About 10 years ago, my almost neighbor (since moved) Asked me to pour a slab and footers for him to build an "artist studio" I worked the numbers and gave him a price. He in order to save money elected to be my helper when ready for the pour. Now, this guy looked like a neandathral, and was as big and strong a bouncer as any bar would have wanted. When I asked him how much experience he had working with crete, he said he had watched some pour work once in the valley. After assuring me how strong he was and willing to do whatever I told him to do, I showed him how to work the shute, pay attention to what I told him and to signal the driver when to move, pour, stop etc. I get him started with the shute, while I muked in the mud into the footings. Less then five minutes into the pour, he stopped the mud, told me he had to take a break, grabbed a shovel and leaned on it. I never saw such a big "strong" bouncer MELT down a shovel so fast in my life. I had to do the rest of the pour myself, and flip the driver a 20 to help me screed off the pad. Way to much for one person to do alone. People watch the diy things on tv or utube and think it is easy. They watched right ? I did learn a valuable lesson out of this though, and that is to never again allow an owner to be my helper, as they don't know squat, are worthless in a pinch and never as strong as they think. Looks easy on the tube though right ? LOL
     
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