Question: The concrete walk in the corner of our L-shaped house has settled to a slope of 3 or 4 inches. The slope causes rain water to seep into the crawl space. Can we top this walk with a thin layer of concrete, or will it crumble?
Answer: You have three options: replace the slab, top it with a layer of concrete, or lift it up and fill in under it. There are two ways a homeowner can lift a slab. If the edge of the slab is accessible, you can use a pry bar. If the edge is not accessible, or it's too big to pry up, you can jack it up.
Span across the slab with two 2x4s placed on edge. Bore holes through the 2x4s and through the concrete slab (rent a hammer drill if need be). Take some threaded rod (known as all thread) and put a spring-loaded wing on the end of each. Push the rod through each hole in the 2x4s and into the holes in the slab.
Put a washer and nut on top of each rod and thread the nut down. Drive the rod down, with a hammer if necessary, until the wings open under the slab. Be sure to put the nuts on the threaded rod before driving the rod down. Driving the rod will mushroom the threads and make it difficult to thread the nuts on the rod.
Tighten the nuts against the 2x4 to jack the slab up. Then pour a slurry of cement, sand and water through the open holes in the slab to fill the void underneath. Turn the rod out of the nuts when the filler under the slab has set up a little. Patch the holes, and the job is done.
Question: What's the best way to store partly used cans of paint without having them develop a skin on the surface?
Answer: Here are several solutions that have worked for us.
1. Store the can upside down.
2. Cut a piece of wax paper the same diameter as the inside of the can and drop it down on top of the paint. When you are ready to paint again, simply remove the paper and the paint under it will be ready to stir up and use without lumps or pieces of dried paint skin to strain out.
3. Blow into the can before you put the lid on it. The carbon dioxide in your breath prevents the paint from oxidizing. Printers use this system to prevent a skin from forming on unused inks.
4. The best answer we've found is to pour a thin layer of the proper solvent for the type of paint onto the surface of the paint left in the can. Use just enough thinner to cover the surface of the paint. Then, the next time you use the paint, simply stir the thinner into the paint. This way, you have no skin formed at all and there is nothing in the can to fish out and dispose of without making a mess. Besides, most paints will spread much more easily when they are slightly thinned.
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