COLUMNISTS

Never crack under the pressure of maintenance projects

Chris Hardie

It’s a rule of nature that the amount of maintenance you have to do is proportional to the amount of property you own.

The patched crack on the driveway.

It’s not exactly like the law of thermodynamics, but having a house, business or farm with structures, driveways, porches and yards means there is always some sort of maintenance to perform. Gutters plug, paint peels and driveways crack. Things just generally break down, wear down or succumb to the inevitable forces of nature.

I am referring to inanimate objects and not myself, but the same rules could apply.

One can hire skilled craftspeople to complete specific projects, but that goes against my natural instincts of having to pay someone and moving closer to conceding that I can’t do all things or that I am getting too old. 

I am not prepared to do any of that, but that doesn’t get me any closer to getting those tasks done – especially when they have been on the master to-do list for several years. That is the list that includes the constantly revised list from my wife Sherry that never seems to grow shorter.

Two years ago I noticed that our asphalt driveway that was installed in 2006 was starting to develop some cracks. I put one sealcoat on the driveway about 10 years ago, but aside from a few cracks, it has held up pretty well.

Tiny cracks can become big cracks and then become missing chunks of the driveway, so it’s important to get them filled. So two years ago I purchased some tubes of crack sealer and they disappeared into the garage. I purchased another container last year. It also disappeared into the garage.

I found both compounds recently, but discovered they were unusable after being ruined by freezing temperatures. The cost of my procrastination was a third purchase of sealers and after a couple of hours, the cracks were filled.

Feeling emboldened by checking that box, I turned my attention toward our two porches. Both have cedar floors that need to be stained at least every two years. I’ve tried every sort of stain and preservative under the sun, but it’s the sun that inflicts the most damage in breaking down the protective coating.

Step one was to locate my pressure washer. The last time I used it, I noticed the hose started to crack, so I bought a new hose. That was last year. I found the hose, swapped it out, applied some thread tape and I was in business.

There’s something therapeutic about wielding a pressure washer. It’s a little tedious, but you can see immediate results watching dirt and grime get blasted away. It’s good for the soul.

Removing dirt and grime from the porch floor.

I finished the floor on one porch and set the pressure washer wand on the steps. I immediately forgot it was there and proceeded to step on the wand with my size 12 boots.

Pressure washers aren’t designed to handle that sort of pressure and I snapped the wand in two. It was a clean break of plastic and metal, which meant that my pressure washing was done for the day.

One step ahead, another step back.

The view of the porch floor after it has been pressure washed.

My wallet was set back about $50 the next day with the purchase of a new wand and accessories, but I was back in business and proceeded to clean the other porch, along with some dirty sections of the patio, two picnic tables and two benches.

The porches are now re-stained, but the railings will need a fresh coat of paint. The paint has been purchased – if it doesn’t get lost in the garage.

Then it’s on to other maintenance projects, which are far too many to get done in the time I have to do them.

The final result after the porch floor has been stained.

Funny how those projects seem to take a little longer than a few years ago.

I guess I’m not all as cracked up as I used to be. 

Chris Hardie spent more than 30 years as a reporter, editor and publisher. He was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and won dozens of state and national journalism awards. He is a former president of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association. Contact him at chardie1963@gmail.com.

Chris Hardie