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Tips for Pouring Concrete Housekeeping Pads

By Savannah McDermott ; Updated September 21, 2017
Central air conditioners often sit on housekeeping pads.
Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images

A traditional housekeeping pad is generally a concrete slab upon which stands a housekeeping machine, such as an air-conditioning unit or a boiler. Not unlike other concrete slab projects, you can help ensure that your housekeeping pad remains strong and lasts as long as possible. Timing is key: Choices you make early on in the process affect your product when it's time to install and maintain your housekeeping device.

Forming the Pad

Purchase quality SPF — spruce/pine/fir — 2-by-4s to form the pad so you don't have to spend time trying to straighten warped lumber. Saw the boards for two sides — call them the back and front — 1-1/2 inches longer than their adjacent sideboards so that you may leave room to nail them together.

Once the form is made, adjust it manually to make right angles in its corners. Perform this task by eye initially, then measure from corner to corner with a measuring tape to confirm your positioning is accurate. If the distance isn't equal, adjust them. When they're square, stake them with metal or wooden stakes. Check again to make sure the form is squared after staking it.

How Much Concrete to Use

It's not uncommon for a home improvement store clerk or a concrete contractor to ask for your order in yards, by which they mean cubic yards. Calculate the amount yourself before shopping; add a couple of bags to your estimate to ensure you don't run short. Multiply the length of the pad in feet by the width of the pad in feet by the depth of the pad in inches; divide the total by 27 to learn the volume in cubic yards of your pad. Multiply by 1.05 to account for waste or spillage.

Leveling

Pick up a magnesium screed at your local home improvement or hardware store. If your pad is larger than 10 square feet, pour the concrete a little at a time and even the surface with the screed as you go. Apply pressure on the back side — the side facing you as you push forward — and make 6- to 8-inch strokes as you pull the concrete level. Screed in sections for best results.

Smoothing

Use a magnesium hand-float by applying light pressure on its back edge and pulling it over your pad in wide arcs. The hand-float helps you smooth your pad once it's been leveled. Check your work with a traditional or laser level. If you plan to sink lag bolts or screws into your pad, do it within an hour of pouring to avoid having to work against hardened concrete.

 

About the Author

 

Savannah McDermott is an instructor of English as a second language in Zafra, Spain. She has a bachelor's degree in Spanish and international studies from Indiana University. She has been writing since 2000 and has extensive experience in both academic and journalistic writing. McDermott has been published in the "Senator" and the "Indiana Daily Student," her high school and college newspapers.