My Best Friend, Hydraulic Cement


If it were not for my best friend, hydraulic cement, I would have had a flood in my basement a couple of days ago during the Big Storm.

Luckily, I was down in the basement (where I keep the worms) looking for some old photos to use in a post, when I noticed the stream of water making its way across the floor. It was coming from some weak mortar between the cinderblocks in the walls of my basement.

I have had this problem before in another place, so I was prepared this time. This time, I didn’t have to yell at my children to keep bailing while I went out in the pouring rain to buy submersible pumps and bags of frozen mulch and drain pipe extensions and hydraulic cement. This time, all I had to do was yell at my children and find my hydraulic cement.

Hydraulic cement is meant for plugging active leaks. Every time I have used it, it seems like it is not going to work. I follow the instructions (as best as I can in the middle of a crisis) and make a ball of the cement in the consistency they recommend and try to stuff it into the leak, but it just turns all silty and watery in my hand. It is a little like trying to stuff wet sand into a running faucet.

I ruined a perfectly good manicure working with this stuff for what seemed like hours yesterday. In actuality, it was only an hour or so of trying to stop the leak-that-was-not-stopping-and-might-be-impossible-to-fix-with-this-stupid-cement-that-isn’t-working-and-and-and-I-hate-my-stupid-house-and-there-is-no-alternative-because-if-I-don’t-keep-trying-my-basement-will-flood-like-it-did-before-and-everything-will-get-ruined-and-moldy-and-gross-and-I-will-have-an-even-bigger-mess-to-clean-up-so-I-may-as-well-keep-trying-even-though-I-want-to-move-to-a-brand-new-good-house-right-now-and-I-am-going-to-cry-any-minute – – and I got frustrated and had to start yelling at my children. As soon as I started yelling, it worked. Miraculously. I think maybe next time, I will start yelling at my children sooner.

Tips for using hydraulic cement are:

1. Have some on hand. When you need it, you need it now.

2. If the leak is running fast, stuff a piece of sponge up in the leak with a screw driver to slow it down a little.

3. Use a thickly folded paper towel to push the little ball of cement into the leak. This seemed to absorb the water and keep the cement from running through my fingers.

4. Yell sooner than later.

Disaster was averted by my best friend, hydraulic cement. I don’t know why it works, but it eventually does. You should have some.

What do you keep on hand for emergencies?

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  1. Rubber gloves. That’s the only way I like to use “stuff” like this. Yes, you run the risk of ruining your rubber gloves but I find when doing these projects myself, it’s worth it.
    Good job, Annie!

    1. annie kip says:

      Good idea – I never think of rubber gloves because it seems harder to feel what I am doing, but they would have saved my manicure! I am a big fan of rubber gloves for washing dishes, though – I slather on lotion and have myself a little spa treatment for my hands while I am washing dishes in hot water!

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