Last Monday morning (July 18th) was an early one. The BIG DAY was here: the house slab was going to get poured! The guys wanted to get going early to avoid the heat, so a 7:00 a.m. start was planned. And, start early, they did! By the time I arrived just a few minutes after 7:00, the pumper truck was in place, and the first of four cement trucks was unloading into it, and the guys were poised for action. Now, for those of you who don't know (I didn't), a pumper truck is this huge contraption with a big crane on it, attached to which is a tube about 6" in diameter through which the cement is pumped. Because our slab is fairly big, and because of the rebar and in-floor tubing laid on it, the guys couldn't simply wheelbarrow loads of mud into the far corners. Hence the need for the pumper truck.
The whole floor was laid and initially smoothed out by 9:00 a.m., but that's when the trouble began. The cement company, based on the experience with our garage slab the week before, had mixed the cement quite loosely and had also added a setting-up retardant to it to allow for the long drive from town plus the heat. Unfortunately, Monday was a cool day and cloudy . . . and a little rainy. Top that off with the 2" of rain we'd gotten the night before that were sitting in the bottom of the plastic-and-Styrofoam-covered pad, and you have, as they say, ISSUES.
So, from 9:00 a.m. UNTIL 3:00 IN THE AFTERNOON we sat. And waited. And tested the cement. And sat. And panicked. (That was me.) The cement WAS NOT SETTING UP! At 3:00 it was finally just-barely firm enough for the guys to walk on it and get some of their equipment into it. The sun had come out in short bursts by then and helped the setting process. Still, the second load that had gotten pumped in the 3-season porch (many hours earlier) was wet. There was no chance of walking on it. So, we waited some more. Finally, with the day dwindling (after all of us expecting a rather short day based on the 7:00 a.m. pour), the guys resorted to getting onto the 3-season porch on little skids that they strapped to their feet and knees and troweling the whole thing by hand. Oi vey. It was stressful, to say the least. I think we all left that night wondering how the slab would look in the morning. But, there was nothing else that could be done.