Question: I want to lay "pavers" over my concrete porch. We are not skilled carpenters or bricklayers but not afraid to tackle the job if we knew how. Do you have any helpful suggestions or know where to send us for instructions? - J.T., Princeton, Ind.
Answer: Start by measuring the porch, find the middle, then place the pavers without adhesive from the center of the porch nearest the steps, working towards each end.
Use spacers, purchased from the flooring supplier, to form a grout line for each paver. If the pavers work out to only a sliver on each end of the porch, you may have to use a smaller spacer for some of the tiles.
Some of the tiles will have to be cut, and for this you will need to rent a dry or wet cutter, depending on the type of paver you have. Once you are satisfied with the layout and pattern, you can start setting the pavers.
Use a setting compound that is recommended by the paver manufacturer. It's critical to clean and prepare the surface according to the adhesive label directions. Work a small area at a time and avoid walking on the tiles until they've had time to bond to the porch. The type of grout used to fill the gaps will depend on the type of paver you select, but I would recommend a latex mixture for the grout.
The grout is installed using a rubber float and working at a 45-degree angle to the joints, forcing the grout deep into each gap. Clean and wash the grout from the face of the paver as you work a small area at a time.
Question: There are heating/cooling units on the first floor and second floors of my home connected to the same drain pipe which runs into the crawl space under the house. Late this summer, the drainage backed up. I discovered the drain just empties into the crawl space, which means that the condensation from the air conditioner and the overflow from the furnace humidifier just soak into the ground.
The furnace repairman said the drain is "below grade" and he doesn't know how to fix it. It does not look like to me the drain enters the crawl space at a lower level than the plumbing drainage pipes. Will this drainage into the crawl space cause problems with the home? How can the problem be rectified? Do I have any recourse with the builder or the original installer (the house is six years old and I bought it one year ago from the original owner)? Would it be practical to have a plumber connect the heating/cooling drain to the plumbing drains? - G.T., Evansville, Ind.
Answer: The 1989 Edition of the Council of American Building Officials, CABO, code book states in section M-1701.2 that condensate water has to drain to the outside of the building or to other approved locations.
Never have I heard of the crawl space being an approved location.
The gallons of water that accumulate can lead to structural damage in the foundation or wood system of the home. Further, the water encourages the growth of molds and mildews which can affect the health of the home's occupants.
The pipe can be extended through a foundation wall and it will drain as long as the discharge point is lower than the source of the condensate. The exterior, however, can become muddy and stagnant. If the plumber connects the drain to the home's sewer system, it has to be through an air break at a trap.