Vertical Cement Application

Cleaning up the swamp cooler duct work continues. At this rate I might have it done by summer.

This is my first experience mixing and using cement and I’m pretty happy with the result. Here’s the problem, a large swath of concrete is missing and the original metal duct just rested up against dirt, further degrading the metal. I cleaned up the mess and prepared it to be filled with cement.

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First thing I did was to put some metal lath that is used for stuccoing walls. I folded it in on itself and shoved it into the gap using a few nails (nailed into dirt) to hold it back where it needed help. The metal lath not only will give the cement some strength but will give it something to stick to.

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I used 30 lbs of Quikrete quick setting cement. The cement sets in 10-15 minutes and, according to the container, is recommend for vertical applications. Since I had never mixed cement before it seems like a good first step was to read and follow the instructions. The container says to mix 5.5 parts of Quikrete into 1 part water and only mix as much as you can work with in 10 -15 minutes. Mixing that much water resulted in a wet powered that was pretty much useless. After some experimentation and wasting about 10% of the Quikrete I found I needed about 3x water than was called for.

Another 10% waste of Quikrete occurred trying to figure out how to actually apply the material into the hole. I finally figured out that using a wide putty knife and pushing it up, working my way left to right and top to bottom was the easiest way to apply it. Sometimes it would fall after I put in on and I tried to scoop up as much as I could and put it back.

It was hot and sweat and blood literally went into the making of this. There is a satisfaction to doing it myself..

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There’s a few next steps before I can permanently attach the duct work. The floor of the this concrete pit should also be solid concrete, but is degraded and it’s hard to tell where the concrete ends and the dirt starts. I will have to put about a .5 inch layer of cement down. I will probably use something like the Quikcrete Fast-Setting Self-Leveling product. Since it doesn’t require any trawling, it should be easy!

The other thing I have to do is to clean out the dirt that made it’s way down the main duct that runs from the cooler to the main air distribution point. I could hire a duct cleaning service, but why start hiring people now when I’ve done everything else myself?

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2 Replies to “Vertical Cement Application”

  1. You seem to have a pretty good handle on this type of work, for this project I would measure the dia of the duct. Then get a piece of 1/2" or 3/4" (depending on how heavy that stuff in the pipe is going to be) ply and make yourself a half moon slightly smaller than your measurement. Attach it at its mid point to a longish pole and use that to drag the debris out of your ducting. Being as you made it smaller than your pipe/duct when you have the bulk out you can fix some old rubber round the cresent then use a hose to wash it out, using your cresent to pull water your way. Hope this helps. Your friend in trouble!

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