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Old 11-17-2018, 06:44 PM   #16
jeff meeks
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So the test is underway. I built a form and lined it with poly and 2x4s so the depth of the dry pack will be 1.5". I tried to get as many of the creases out as I could, but there are still some....just like real liners. At 2' from the end of the base I propped it up on a 1/2" bit of moulding to get the 1/4"/ft gradient

My protocol is to pour a mug of water (no SI units here) onto the surface in about 10 secs and see how long it takes water to get past the ends of the 2' long 2x4s. As a control I did this without any mud and it took 10 secs for the first water to reach the end and 30secs for it to stop flowing and left some small puddles on the poly because of the creases.

I made up some dry pack from 2 parts Quickcrete topping mix to 1 part sand. This should give me around 5:1 sand to portland mix. I'll wait a couple of days for the mud to cure and then repeat my mug of water protocol.
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Old 11-17-2018, 09:11 PM   #17
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This is great!! I will definitely be following along on this one. Jeff I’m thankful for your curiosity on this.
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Old 11-17-2018, 09:49 PM   #18
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Jeff, I think if you're looking for a standard approach here you should be mixing your mud from Portland cement and sand. While we think the Quikrete Sand Topping mix is about a 3:1 sand to cement ratio, none of us actually knows that and I doubt Quikrete will tell you. We also don't know what other components might be in their mix.

I'd suggest that along with your 5:1 mix (using sand and cement) you consider trying a 4:1 ratio, which is what the ANSI standards call for in a shower mortar bed. I'll presume you'll be using the industry standard minimum thickness of 1 1/2 inches for all your tests.

I would, of course, be interested in any difference you see between those mixes and your Quikrete mix, since we have often recommended that mix as an alternative to sand and cement.
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Old 11-17-2018, 10:11 PM   #19
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I think we could come up with a million different mortars and other variables as has been mentioned in this thread. So this test is for quikcrete topping mix 2:1 with sand. If someone wants to do 5:1 sand and portland that would be another test point, I just don't want my basement to fill up with yards of mortar. Maybe we can crowd source this.

The form is made from 2x4s so the bed is 1.5" thick.
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Old 11-17-2018, 10:57 PM   #20
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That's good in theory but not in practice as your sand is different then my sand yielding different results.
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Old 11-18-2018, 09:49 AM   #21
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Yes, there are going to be numerous variations. I'm just trying to get a rough handle on the time. My experiment will yield practical results for my mortar mix, water input flow, and slope. This is not a shower or your mortar mix. But the purpose of this test is to see if the "perk time" to the drain is secs, mins or hours and I contend that differences in mixes won't skew the result by orders of magnitude, it would be interesting to test that though.

If I come up with a result that's secs or a couple of mins then I think everyone will say it's a non issue and if they have been installing such systems with different mud mixes they will probably say it will be similar for those. The problem will be if it takes a lot longer and I imagine that the results will be challenged and claims of faster perk times for particular mixes will be made. So maybe people can do their own tests on their own mortar mixes. My rig took 15 mins to build.
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Old 11-18-2018, 04:06 PM   #22
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Again Jeff, glad you’re doing it and can’t wait for the results.
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Old 11-19-2018, 08:10 PM   #23
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I've used some silicone to seal a plastic bottle to the mud pan. It's a bottle that has a screw off bottom so the open end is about 1" in diameter. I poured a cup of water into it and waited. After an hour there is some slight dampness around the edge of the bottle....not sure if thats a bad seal or surface absorption....and the level has gone down by 1/8". So it will take many hours to get into the mortar at this rate and who knows how long to appear 2 feet away.

Obviously there's a lot more water in a shower and maybe water reaches the liner at the edges of the pan quite quickly......but actually through my mortar its pretty slow. I wish I had a cut away to see the progress of the water.
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Old 11-20-2018, 07:08 AM   #24
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So I left the setup overnight and after 7 hours I had another look at it when I got up. The cup of water had soaked into the mortar and the last 6" of the bed was damp. There was no water on the plastic sheet beyond the end of the bed and the entire thickness of the end of the bed is damp. I'll let it dry out and repeat over Thansgiving.

But my initial observation is that the vast majority of water that gets onto the top of the bed will flow down it without being absorbed. It takes hours for a cup of water to soak into the mortar bed and then the water does not flow along the liner, but it saturates the bed like a sponge. I'm not sure how to explain the full thickness dampness of the bed at the end.

Anyway, there was no active flowing through the bed, it is a dense sponge. The preslope does seem to direct the move my of the water to the end of the bed, but it takes hours to move a couple of feet. I wonder about the usefulness of the drain weep holes and feel that evaporation is probably at least as relevant as drainage
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Old 11-20-2018, 09:44 AM   #25
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Increase water volume, the weeps will become more relevant.
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Old 11-20-2018, 02:04 PM   #26
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something else to consider, it doesn't seem you are accounting for water evaporation through the top of the mud bed.
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Old 11-20-2018, 03:21 PM   #27
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Evaporation was mentioned as a mechanism of where the water goes. The first take away is that after the initial wetting of the surface the water seems to penetrate very slowly. It does not flow through the mortar in the conventional sense with a cup of it sitting above the surface for hours. With increased volumes there might be more "flow", but my initial quest to see how a bolus of water travels through the mortar has been answered is seeps rather than flows and takes about 8 hours to travel 2 feet. The mortar was damp at the end but there were no beads of water at the end of the pan on the plastic after 8 hours. I think any water getting into the shower pan has as much, if not more, chance of leaving the mortar by evaporation as flowing through weep holes. I will let the pan dry completely and come up with a better and larger container for the water.
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Old 11-20-2018, 06:00 PM   #28
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So far the thing I'm surprised about Jeff is the wait time of water absorption from your vessel. Usually I can pour water on the top of my mud bed and its almost instantaneously gone. I might have to add to this thread with my mix as well and try and mirror what you've done for S&G's of the results.
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Old 11-20-2018, 06:47 PM   #29
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Same as Justin. Water dumped on my mortar beds vanishes in seconds.

An educated guess says his deck mud has either: more cement, more water, more compaction, or some combination thereof than I do.

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Old 11-20-2018, 07:20 PM   #30
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Something wrong there, Jeff. I, too, gotta agree with Justin. You should have difficulty keeping that water container in your photo full.
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