HOW THICK SHOULD MY DRIVEWAY BE?
We generally advocate 5″ thickness reinforced with 6×6 10-10 mesh and joint spacing in feet, twice the thickness. This is because, unfortunately, you may occasionally have heavier delivery vehicles driving on it, which could crack a 4″ drive. A 5″ thickness gives almost ½ again as much flexile strength as 4″ concrete to resist cracking.
WHAT IS SCALING AND HOW CAN I PREVENT IT?
We get many calls about scaling ( where the surface lattice peels off ) These calls come from people, generally in newer subdivisions, who have had others put in driveways, walks, patios, etc. for them. Scaling occurs when finishing is done before the bleed water has evaporated, causing the surface water to be driven back into the slab. This leaves a thin layer of water between the surface lattice and the courser aggregate below. Since there is no bond between the surface lattice and the courser aggregate below, several freeze and thaw cycles will result in the surface coming off.
WHAT ARE CHERT POPS?
We also get many calls about chert pops ( where the stones at the surface pop out ). Most of our aggregate supply in this area has a certain percentage of chert, which occurs naturally. It is very difficult to separate the chert from the regular good hard aggregate. Chert is a type of stone that absorbs water and when it freezes it expands. If this occurs near the surface of the finished concrete it may pop out. It should be noted that most public works projects use regular aggregate with this percentage of naturally occurring chert in it. If you look at the concrete after several years they really don’t have many chert pops in them for the amount of punishment they take. In comparison, residential drives often show more chert pops after less use, even though the same concrete mix was used. The difference is the contractor pouring the concrete and the amount of water added these factors affect the strength and durability of the concrete. Water added means decreased strength, which may lead to excessive chert popping. Of course, chert-free or low chert mixes are available at additional cost. However, this won’t always prevent problems. You can also have problems with chert-free concrete.
I CALLED THE CONTRACTOR WHO DID MY WALK, WHICH HAS CHERT POPS AND HE SAID IT WAS BAD CONCRETE, IS THIS TRUE?
One should remember that most redi-mix plants are checked yearly by the department of weights and measures because these plants provide the concrete for state, county and municipal projects, as well as for residential work. It would absolutely be detrimental to the concrete company if they attempted to cheat. They could be shut down and barred from any future public works projects. It simply isn’t worth it to cheat in the hopes of saving a few dollars. And what about the liability incurred for having provided bad concrete? There are many reasons for these things to happen but 95% of the problems relate to the contractor doing the work. If he works with too small a crew the concrete is generally poured wetter. Adding excessive water to the mix reduces strength and its companion, durability. Most will blame the concrete company saying they got a bad mix when, indeed, adding water to the mix caused the problem.
HOW SHOULD I PICK A CONTRACTOR TO DO MY DRIVEWAY?
Probably more attention should be paid to the contractor picked to do the job, rather than the price. Check references, BBB, neighbors, and friends. Ask who is happy with the work done, and who isn’t.
WHAT IF I WANT TO HAVE MY CONCRETE DRIVEWAY COLORED?
Colored, stamped, exposed aggregate and stained finishes require a much higher caliber craftsman, who knows and cares about the product he is producing. We have these abilities – give us a call.
I’VE BEEN TOLD I NEED TO HAVE MY CHIMNEY RELINED, DO I REALLY NEED TO HAVE IT DONE, IT SEEMS TO BE WORKING FINE?
Chimney relining – BEWARE of the scam artists who will tell you your chimney needs stainless steel or aluminum sheet metal relining. Although it is true that in some cases these linings should be installed, in most cases it is simply not needed. Sometimes in fireplace flues they can actually be a detriment, by constricting the flue size and after its installed your fireplace won’t draw properly. In most cases, the standard terra-cotta flue lining which has been around since the early 1900’s does quite well. They do deteriorate over time from freeze-thaw cycles so most damage will occur above the roofline; below the roofline the lining will generally last longer than the house. If sections need replacement anywhere in the chimney it can be done. Many times people call about chimney cleaning, or say, they had a chimney cleaner at their house who told them their chimney needed relining. They ask us for a second opinion and we usually find nothing wrong.
HOW OFTEN DO I NEED TO HAVE MY CHIMNEY CLEANED?
Gas heating flues never need cleaning because they are exhausting only gaseous materials, generally water vapor and carbon dioxide. Fireplace flues, if used properly, rarely need cleaning. Unfortunately, burning a fireplace properly is becoming a lost art. If you are standing in front of the fireplace and have to turn like a rotisserie to keep from getting scorched, you are burning the fire properly. Carbon monoxide poisoning is often cited as a reason to have your chimney relined with stainless steel. This is rarely a valid concern. First, chimneys under normal operating conditions provide an exit for a column of warm air. Warm air is lighter than cold air so it naturally rises, creating a sucking action. A crack or leak in the chimney would tend to suck air into the chimney rather than cause leakage out of the chimney. There are a few exceptions to this, but they are very rare. One should remember that gas cook stoves exhaust the same fumes directly into our kitchens and this generally doesn’t cause any problems. A little logic is required, as is dealing with a reputable contractor.
DO I NEED A RAIN HOOD ON MY CHIMNEY?
Rain hoods have become fashionable over the last 15 years. In most cases, they are not needed and on the fireplace flue they can actually be a detriment. Remember for several hundred years we got along without them, why do we all need rain hoods now.
CAN YOU MATCH MY ORIGINAL MASONRY MORTAR COLOR WHEN DOING REPAIRS, MY HOUSE WAS BUILT IN THE EARLY 1900’S?
As relates to masonry repairs, chimney tuckpointing and rebuilding, and house tuckpointing, we take great care in attempting to match the mortar color and texture. Many older homes have their original mortar tinted with reds, browns and black. Some stone work is a special white cement mortar. Our skilled craftsmen know this and can do a fine job matching existing mortars. If you have any other specific questions give us a call and we may have the answer you need.