We'll be Needing a Jackhammer

One of the most problematic downspouts is this one that collects about 1/4 of the roof's water and dumps it right on our porch

And when we walk out of the house when it's pouring it's not fun to walk into a rushing river.

There are lots of things we'd like to improve about the little porch nook of ours. There's the semi step up onto the porch from the yard that we'd either like to make level with the yard or higher so it's actually a step

There's the first step up to the door that is the weirdest height and people trip on it all the time

Then there are also these two strange little nooks

But first on the list is fixing that downspout. There are a couple problematic downspouts all around our house (thanks to the idiots at Westco/Berkeley Roof Services) and so we're going to have to spend some time as we start the front yard work to correct the professional's mistakes. To fix this one we'll be busting out a strip of concrete in the porch...

...and then we'll run a pipe underground attached to the downspout and have it drain into a gravel pit in the front yard. We'll have to do the same thing to another downspout in the front, then we'll attach the third to a rain barrel, which I'll share about tomorrow.

But back to this first downspout. Like we did when we broke out a section of the garage's foundation, we took out the skill saw and cut into the concrete

Once we had our section cut out we figured it would be easy to break up the concrete we wanted to haul away. This plan worked really well with the garage, so we figured it would go swimmingly again. However, we noticed that the concrete pour was very thick and our cuts didn't go deep enough into them (despite going through it twice so we could get the skil saw down pretty deep)

We kept our fingers crossed that we'd still be able to bust it out with the sledge

We weren't nearly as successful as we would have liked and because our cuts didn't go deep enough we were breaking up the concrete around it as well which we weren't too happy about because that meant we would have more we needed to repair later

We decided to go through the cuts we'd made a third time with the skil saw and set it on the deepest cut it could make and hopefully that would be deep enough to alleviate the pressure and allow us to break up the concrete in the single strip we wanted to take out.

It ended up helping a
bit and Chris was able to poke the pick ax in

And we discovered brick the concrete got poured right on top of

At this point we got a little frustrated: the concrete was way thicker than we had anticipated, there was brick under it and we were having a lot harder time breaking it out than we normally do. The eventual plan was to just break out the strip for the downspout to run underground, repair the concrete, then lay bricks over the whole thing to make the porch the same level as the small first porch step so that people don't trip every time they come to our house. But we were getting frustrated with the difficulty of getting things broken up and we were starting to get concerned with how thick everything was. With apprehension we took turns on the sledge and broke away some more to try to see what we were dealing with

We were lucky to discover that the brick underneath the concrete did not make it very far

With that happy news we hoped that breaking away the rest of the concrete would be a lot easier. It wasn't. It still was so thick and slamming down the sledge wasn't really doing much at all. We brought out the roto hammer to see if that would help

But it really didn't do much at all, and we discovered more brick another foot into the conrete. Fucking A. After an hour and a half, lots of sweating and lots of annoyance with not much progress we were left with this beauty

We resolved that if we actually wanted to complete this without breaking our backs and getting it done in a reasonable amount of time without inadvertently breaking up all the other concrete we were going to have to rent a jackhammer because this just wasn't cutting it

So the weekend better treat us well: the goal is grass all ripped up, no concrete strip and trenches dug. Keep your fingers crossed for us.


Heather said...

Ugh, what a pain! I swear gutter guys don't know what they are doing AND they charge an arm and a leg. We're in. The wrong business.

Shasha Kidd said...

We had the same kind of problem last summer when we tried to dig a trench across our driveway for a rain garden. We totally messed up our driveway and have to repour large sections of it.

meryl rose said...

It does seem like people always have complaints about where people installed their gutters and downspouts, you'd think they'd get it together.

I am HOPING we don't have to re-pour too much of the porch. Hope. Hope. Hope.

Gene Anderson said...

Ugh. Reminds me of when I took out the front walk in preparation for building the addition. The natural stone was laid on 12-15" of concrete in places.

Unrelated, I don't know if you've heard about the walking tour the OHA is having along Picardy Drive this August: http://www.oaklandheritage.org/Events.html

meryl rose said...

12-15 inches!?!??!! Oh my god, that must have been terrible :(

I know they do a walking tour each year, though I totally forget when it is until I see a bunch of people walking down the street and I run away in shame because our house always looks ridiculous. Hopefully this year our front yard will be done by then and I won't feel so ashamed! :)