Water & Ice Pooling on New Concrete Steps


  #1  
Old 01-17-15, 01:37 PM
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Water & Ice Pooling on New Concrete Steps

Hi everyone, I just paid a contractor a boatload of money to pour new concrete steps. However today I saw that the treads are not draining water properly and ice is forming on each tread where the riser meets the rear of the tread and then another huge pool of ice/water at the landing which is horrible now that it's ice. I am sick to death since this is at my only apartment building.

I have attached 3 photos for everyone to see (below).

I plan on contacting the contractor, but I anticipate arguing and/or a reluctance to fix it, but maybe they'll fix it. But I need to be armed with knowledge to argue.

I need help with these two things:

(1) Besides the obvious treacherous conditions for the tenants with ice pooling, will not shedding the water properly cause premature failure of the concrete ...like cracking since the water is pooling into ice?

(2) If they offer to fix it; what methods are acceptable? What if they offer to patch it with something, will it truly bond? My impression is that nothing really bonds to concrete ...and if it does, I worry that the color will not match.

The company that did the job is a smaller one, but they have been around for a long time, as I have used them over 10 years ago. It was done a few months ago in the Fall (2014). I guess I need to know what will work and what will not once I email him about the issue with photos.

Thanks in advance! -Tony

P.S. When standing to the side, the treads look good and have a slope to them, but the slope is absent where the ice is pooling up, in fact the ice is almost a half inch thick!

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  #2  
Old 01-17-15, 02:08 PM
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It's not quite as bad as your post indicated. The front of the steps appear clear and that is where people put their foot. However, I agree it looks like the steps have a slight concave to the middle and towards the back. I'm not sure if anything can done. Maybe a few grooves cold be ground into the steps to drain the water away to the edges. I'd be more concerned with the landing. that is totally pooling and should be grade to either side. Again a grooved surface would work and look good also giving a tread to the surface. I'm not a concrete guy but I agree that I don't think a topping would hold or last any length of time.
 
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Old 01-17-15, 06:55 PM
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And I've heard repeatedly that ice-melting salt eats new concrete, so I wouldn't use that, nor would I want a helpful tenant salting it.
 
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Old 01-17-15, 07:20 PM
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Improper finishing of concrete steps cannot be repaired. Toppings of any type will not stay adhered, besides looking ugly. All it takes are missteps on that ice, and you could be facing a few hefty-dollar lawsuits by tenants.

Complete removal and replacement is the only permanent solution for finishers' mistakes. Amateurs should never be allowed to form and pour concrete steps where public liability is an issue. Maybe the next version can have all of the risers being the same height, too, as required by code. The current bottom riser looks to be at least an inch shorter than the others, making for a tripping hazard even when ice isn't present.
 

Last edited by BridgeMan45; 01-17-15 at 07:39 PM.
  #5  
Old 01-17-15, 07:25 PM
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Did you get a certificate of insurance coverage from the contractor?

Maybe I'm just a pain, but if I paid for those steps I would want them to look exactly like what you have less the water pooling problem.

But I have a question. What is underneath those steps? If they are not set on a foundation wall extending below the frost line, what you are seeing could be the frost lifting the steps just enough to cause the problem you see. Frost will always lift the area away from the house more than the area next to the house, tipping steps and porches back towards the house. You are having some cold weather in PA .

Bud
 
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Old 01-18-15, 06:23 AM
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Bud, you make a good point. I thought the same thing but could not put it into words. If the block is not right up against the maybe it could be raised at that point. But that is only a poor solution.
 
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Old 01-18-15, 06:31 AM
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It is so common up here in frost country to see front steps and small porches tipping back towards a house. One would hope that builders would have learned long ago, but obviously not.

If these steps have lifted out by the last step there should be some separation between the bottom of the steps and the house. If that is the case then rebuilding them might be a waste of time without a proper footing. It may fall back to whoever decided to build them on a slab or just compacted soil.

Bud
 
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Old 01-18-15, 09:19 AM
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Thanks for the replies!

Norm:
Actually, it's an unbelievable hazard. Tenants slipping on ice is a catastrophe and lawsuit waiting to happen. This ice is so smooth that it could have only developed by a warm period where water settled then re-froze; this is something that can happen on ANY day over the Winter here in PA which makes it impossible to monitor. The grooves idea makes sense to drain the water, but then regular maintenance must be done to keep the grooves clear of debris. Junk from trees and pollen get lodged on these steps regularly (like glue!), and the grooves would get clogged and be ineffective unfortunately. I was willing to settle for grooves as a solution, but I don't think it would be maintenance free as normal steps are.

Bridgeman:
This is a company that's been around for a while, not amateurs. They've been around for 40 years and do commercial and residential. I think the weak link may have been the two guys that did the pouring/finishing.

Bud:
I'm not familiar with the cert. of Ins ...I'll look into that. If he does have a cert. of Insurance, what do I/he do with it? Also, the foundation checks out OK. This is a commercial building and the footings are deep into the soil. Furthermore, the steps span two concrete monoliths making a hollow cavity below the steps and includes a vent. The steps are not tipping in any way (see photos below). The two monoliths holding up the steps are still perfect in every way and are standing the test of time (40 years so far).

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  #9  
Old 01-18-15, 09:51 AM
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there are materials which will repair this issue - concretenetwork.com is 1 place to start,,, sika is another,,, you want to look for a polyer-modified cementitious material - preferable just add water,,, we do this work all the time & have projects dating back 15yrs still performing properly.

many products have various states dot's approval, too,,, highway spall repairs are often done using the same stuff - even by regional maintenance personnel,,, you can find brand names on their materials list ,,, OR call a decorative conc artisan - we used elitecrete 9 no $ interest ) primarily & never had a product problem/failure.

good luck !
 
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Old 01-18-15, 10:12 AM
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The certificate of insurance is a document you request before any contractor shows up to work on your property. Insurance companies are very familiar with them and mail them directly to you so you will know exactly what coverage the contractor has and if there is a claim, who to talk to. They will also provide a statement for workers comp. You need to be sure all workers are covered or the responsibility could fall back to you. Careful when they say their crew are all subs and if so require each to provide his/her own certificate of insurance. I would say 50% of the contractors I talk to don't carry proper insurance and try to talk me out of providing a certificate. Last one was a roofer who ended the visit by throwing the paperwork in my face and stomping out saying no one else ever required insurance. Really sad.

My wife used to work at an insurance agency so I have been well schooled, at least here in Maine, but most other states should be similar.

The foundation looks perfect which shifts the failure back to the installer. Now you must choose whether to pursue a complete re-do or a fix as Stadry suggested.

BTW, I registered letter to that contractor informing him he is now liable for any injuries due to poor workmanship might get his attention. Caution signs and some sort of temporary wood covering that ice might be in order, but notify your insurance company as well, they don't want to get sued either.

Bud
 
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Old 01-19-15, 01:14 AM
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And the incorrect riser height of the bottom riser still needs to be corrected. As it stands, it does not comply with any building code and is a tripping hazard. Adding a magic topping will do nothing to correct it.
 
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Old 01-19-15, 06:59 AM
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Well, I sent an email to the contractor last night, He did reply that it's possible that since the steps are much colder than the ground (since they're hollow), it could be that water is freezing before it can roll off. But he did say that he'll be out to look at it this week.

Bridge: I guess the only way to fix that part is to rip out the steps and do the entire job again; should I require that?

Thanks everyone.
 
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Old 01-19-15, 07:16 AM
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As Bridgeman pointed out, you have a code issue with that first step. This needs to be a tear out and start over.
 
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Old 01-19-15, 12:20 PM
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Not that it makes a big difference but where the steps uneven like that prior to replacement? It's still not right but the country could certainly use that for an argument about redoing them at his expense. Was there a permit pulled for this work? Was it inspected?
 
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Old 01-19-15, 12:49 PM
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I'm wondering if the building is occupied ..... and whether you're insured for occupants' accidental injuries.
 
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Old 01-19-15, 04:33 PM
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OK, I went over to the apartment building and took a 9" level to the steps. To my surprise, almost every spot was properly sloped with the exception of a few places that were level. At no place was the slope in the wrong direction.

There was still some ice, so I can't be sure, so I'll have to go back after things melt a bit. So far that is some good news.
 
  #17  
Old 01-19-15, 04:59 PM
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My paving block sidewalk has a habit of turning to glare ice when the temperatures are just right and I get a misty rain. And that is what your mason implied could be the source of this ice. If the ultimate decision comes down to tearing out what is there due to the step height you might take that opportunity to rethink the hollow concrete construction. Not sure what the options are, but it definitely needs to be something safe during winter ice conditions.

Bud
 
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Old 01-19-15, 05:53 PM
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Wow, that's the exact reason we ripped the old steps out, because they were filled with dirt! The old steps were broken to pieces over time from the dirt in there freezing and thawing. The cracks would let more water in, which made more cracks. The water trapped in the dirt under the old steps also caused mold and bubbled paint in the stair well's painted block which looked horrible for the tenants that live there.

I bring this up because I still need to have another set (front steps) torn out and re-done. Removing that dirt was the savior to the mold in the hall/stairwell!
 
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Old 01-20-15, 02:13 PM
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' magic toppings ' DO work,,, the feds spec them & even state dot's list them as approved materials,,, the BIG question is $$$ - ALWAYS $$$,,, & there's no magic involved, just $$$

& my bride, nagzilla, thinks I'M negative - oy !
 
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Old 01-23-15, 08:13 PM
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Most flatland Southern boys wouldn't know much about snow and ice. Or about those nifty gadgets called snow shovels, the metal versions of which are very efficient at removing added concrete repair toppings, as conscientious owners chip away melted snow that has started to refreeze as temperatures drop.
 
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Old 01-24-15, 12:40 AM
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OUCH - my neck's sore from the leash being jerked,,, products're on approved mtls list for states above mason-dixon,,, 1st mag phosphate spall repr & conc hgwy jnt re-seal nysdot bid project was my job,,, born & raised, lived, & work'd in ny - came s 15 yrs ago & brought my snow shovel, too

usual conc's about 3,500/4,000# compressive strength,,, typical polymer-modified's about 5,500#
 
 

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