Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Watch where you walk 'cause the sidewalks talk

About a week ago, I got a letter from the city saying that there was one block of my sidewalk that constituted a safety hazard. I keep wanting to refer to it a public health hazard, but knew that wasn't the term they used. It's not like the sidewalk had H1N1 or something. As near as I can figure, the reason it got flagged as a safety hazard was because of how uneven it was which would make it treacherous for just about anyone I suppose.

I figured that this was more than I could do on my own (duh), but I called my dad to see if this is a job he could help me with or if I needed to hire someone to do it. He expressly forbade me from hiring someone, saying that it was a one-day job that we could do together. Time was a bit on the short side as they're getting ready to take off to Arizona for 3 weeks next week, but he found time in his schedule to come help me with this. For someone who is retired, he works harder than a lot of working people I know!

The first step was to get the concrete out of the ground, which proved to be quite a bit more difficult than we anticipated. For one thing, it's hard to tell from the picture but the square is HUGE. It's at least twice as big as your standard sidewalk square. It also went much deeper into the ground than I thought it would - nearly 4 inches. That's a damn lot of concrete. My dad had a masonry blade for his saw (they look like little 45rpm records!) and cut through a good bit of the far end of the sidewalk. However, this was getting us nowhere fast because the saw kept overheating and we weren't even half way down through the depth of the sidewalk. We ended up going out to the rental place and renting a cement chipper tool (basically a bit on the end of a long pole that uses momentum to break the concrete) which helped carve out just enough that we could get a 4X4 piece of wood in. After that, we used an axe to break up the rest. These photos kind of give you an idea.

(you can see the cement chipper tool we rented in the bottom right hand corner)

After using an axe this afternoon, I can say with great certainty that I would make a shitty ax murderer because I would likely just drive the axe into the wall next to my intended victim. But anyway, we got all the concrete broken up, cleared out and prepped the hole for the new concrete.

Even though he had brought something like 500 pounds of concrete along with him, it wasn't enough to do just this ONE square. So off I went to Lowe's in his Jeep (which, with the top off and the windows down was great fun to drive) to buy more. I bought 400 more pounds of concrete. We used all but 80 pounds of what I bought. So yes, one square of sidewalk = ~820 pounds of concrete.

You've already seen me breaking the concrete, now here I am edging the wet concrete, a more delicate but no less important job.

So as you can see, I worked my ass off today. But don't kid yourself - I did probably less than 50% of the work. My dad mixed the concrete, shoveled the concrete and did a large portion of the filling in and smoothing of it. When it was all said and done, it was about a 4 hour job. And we got lucky with how easily the old concrete came out. That could have been 4 hours by itself. Four hours of work doesn't seem so bad, but concrete work is HARD WORK - don't let anyone tell you any different. Words cannot possibly express how happy I am that I do not have to do this kind of manual labor for a living. I would be dead if I had to. I am sore and tired tonight. But the satisfaction I got from it is priceless.

Here's our finished project - still a bit wet, but Anna, Dad and I all put our handprints in it, because you can't do a concrete job without doing something like this.


Myfizzypop said...

Love these posts. Simple as that :P

Matt said...

Seriously. Your dad is amazing. You have quite possibly the best parents of all time.

xolondon said...


Hardware Ireland said...

Well I would also say the same, your Dad is really one of the best Dad in the world.