Mystery of the 'mud-jacked' driveway

Before complete overhaul, consider options

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Q: My cement driveway is about 25 years old and certain spots became "mud-jacked" about nine years ago due to "settling." It is settling again in some areas and I’m wondering whether I should spot fix it again or redo the whole driveway and while at it make sure the foundation (adequate rebar, gravel etc.) is set up right. What’s your advice?

A: Whenever I hear about the same problem occurring twice, I’m almost always in favor of doing some additional investigation, and that would be my thoughts in your case as well. It sounds like there might be some groundwater problems, poor compaction or other issues that are going on under the slab, and I’d want to get those looked at before proceeding with another repair.

Before tearing up the entire driveway, you might want to dig up the areas that are settling and then have an experienced, licensed excavator or concrete contractor come out and take a look at things. They may be able to do a little additional digging and investigative work and determine what’s causing the settling, and if it’s an isolated condition you may still be able to make repairs rather than doing a complete replacement.

If you opt for a complete replacement of the driveway, talk to the contractors about what your options are. In addition to concrete, you might want to consider paving stones or some other material that allows for greater expansion and contraction, as well as being more resistant to freeze/thaw cycles.

Q: I plan to sell my home soon. Is it worth investing in a "sunroom" patio off the master bedroom in order to increase my per-square-foot sales price? It will be engineered, have a permit, and be approximately 400 square feet.

A: Whether or not it’s worth the investment depends on the current value of the house and what’s happening with other comparable homes in your area that are up for sale, but my gut instinct is that it probably wouldn’t be worth it. However, since this is being done strictly for resale value, I would suggest that you talk with a local real estate agent and see how many homes in your area and in your price range are equipped with these types of sunrooms; look at how much the addition will cost; and then see whether the agent feels you will recoup your investment. …CONTINUED

Q: We are going to remodel soon, and I didn’t give any thought about the demands on the existing water heater. Is there an increased demand on the system? We currently have a 2-year-old high-efficiency unit in the house.

A: That depends on the remodel. If, for example, you’re remodeling your existing bathroom and replacing an existing sink and toilet with new ones, but not otherwise adding fixtures, there shouldn’t be any increased demand on the system. In fact, with today’s low-flow shower heads, demand may even drop.

On the other hand, if you are adding a second bathroom, or perhaps adding a larger tub or a larger shower with multiple heads, you’ll be increasing the amount of hot water that you use, and therefore adding to the load on the water heater. Depending on the size and condition of the existing water heater, it may or may not be able to handle that increase, but that’s something that your plumbing contractor can easily determine for you at the time of the remodel.

Q: You once pointed out that primer can be tinted close to the color you wish for, which is economical since primer is less expensive than paint. I have applied white primer to my walls and had been thinking I would next have to apply a coat of white paint — since that is my final color choice. The primer is Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3; will this stay white over time or should I indeed apply the top coat of paint?

A: Primers are formulated to be a transition coating between the surface being painted and the finished coat of paint. In addition to being very good at blocking stains, primers have properties that make them stick well to drywall, wood and other surfaces, as well a creating a good surface for paint to adhere to. They do not, however, have a lot of the pigments and other ingredients that make for a good paint, and as such they are intended to be painted over with a topcoat of paint. So, as much as I hate to have you break out the paint roller again, for appearance and long-term durability you’ll be happier having your walls covered with paint instead of primer.

Remodeling and repair questions? E-mail Paul at paulbianchina@inman.com.

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