Showing posts with label Household. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Household. Show all posts

Ikea Kitchen Cabinets for Garage Organization - Vertical Wall Cabinet for Skis and Thule Racks

One of the things that was sorely lacking in the new house was any form of garage organization - just a huge, empty, 40 x 18 x 10 foot box.

Next to no organization - piles of boxes and a big open mess.

I did a bunch of research, and looked at the garage storage systems in the big box home improvement stores. My impression of the systems offerred, both in metal and in melamine - was typically of mediocre quality, and a lack of flexibility. Typically, only one or two base cabinets and tall cabinets were offerred, so getting a good fit with my space would be difficult or impossible.

Then I went to Ikea and checked out the Akurum kitchen cabinet system. Here - lots of choice in base cabinets, wall cabinets and tall cabinets. Lots of widths, height, door and drawer combinations. In essence - exactly what I was looking for - full flexibility to implement a storage design taking into account my space available. (Note - I understand that the Ikea Akurum system will be replaced in 2015 by a new kitchen cabinet system - Sektion - but that shouldn't change the principles of implementing a similar solution in your garage).

Here's my post on the Akurum cabinet installation. 

Here's a photo of the completed tall cabinet - loaded with racks and gear:

Completed Cabinet Installation - Perfect for Skis, Hockey Sticks, Thule Rack Bars
Empty wall - ready for cabinets.... I had been wondering what I could do with this space between the mandoor and garage door.

Bare corner ready for cabinet installation. I had to move an alarm motion sensor up to clear the cabinet installation. 
In order to fit the cabinet - it was a tight squeeze - I had to use the router to remove some material from one side of the cabinet - to clear the ceramic tile installed on the bottom 2 feet of the wall in my installation. Note the plastic levelling feet used - makes installation a breeze.

A router removed some material from the side surface of the
 cabinet to clear my ceramic tile on the lower part of my garage walls. 
A wall mounted plywood strip compensates for the thickness of the ceramic tile on the wall at the bottom. The metal hanging bracket ensures a solid installation - very simple and straighforward to hang the cabinet on the wall.

Plywood spacer and wall bracket for securing the top of the cabinet. You can also see the alarm sensor wire has been extended. 
Adding boxes to the initial wall cabinet. Levelling is quick and easy with the plastic cabinet feet.

Box installed, waiting for cabinet doors
Once all the wall cabinets are installed, its time for some doors and drawers. I went for the soft close hinges and drawer slides - makes for a polished installation. I also installed a second cabinet door with extra height to hide items placed on top of the cabinet. This space is perfect for wheel holders.

Top door - extra height to help hide items placed on top of the cabinet.
Door installation - checking the height of the shelf with my longest set of skis.
One tip for making the whole process go quicker - use an air powered trim nailer - brad nailer for tacking the back panels of the cabinets to the cabinet frames - this really speeds up the slowest part of the whole operation.

I also added some velcro ties to help store poles and accessories.

Velcro tie - held down with a wood screw and washer.
Pefect for holding ski poles.
Completed installation with the door closed. 
After about 15 months - this setup is still rock solid and very practical. I can't imaging working without it now.

Final touch - was installing a second garage door remote on the side of the cabinet for convenience. I ran all the wires in surface mount wiring channels - to hide the wires and neaten the installation.

Garage Door Control installed on the side of the cabinet

Door sensor installed - wiring channels hide bare wires.

Organization of the Thule Rack Parts


This was a super upgrade. When ever I need to rack up the car - my racks are right near the garage door - no running around and digging up rack components. The skis are also right by the garage door - just open the garage door - throw the skis in the car - and off to the hill. Excellent upgrade and time saver, helps the garage look neat. 

Sources and Links

I hope you found this post useful. Feel free to ask questions in the comments section below. I answer all questions. If you're interested, you can help support this site by using the following links to in the United States. Cabinets are available at Ikea - in person or online.


Workbench Task Lighting using Armacost LED Strip Lighting

It's been a busy summer - I haven't had much time for posting - so I figured I would get back into the game with a pretty simple one. I wrote earlier about my garage organization project using Ikea kitchen cabinets - full height wall cabinets, combined with upper wall cabinets above my table saw, mini fridge and mini freezer. You can check out that post here. 

Completed Installation - LED Strip Lights underneath wall cabinets, lighting work surface / freezer
The table saw and freezer make a pretty handy worktable when I'm not using the table saw. I thought I would add some task lighting over the table saw, and decided to try out Lee Valley Tools new LED strip lighting kits. They have all kinds of options - white or mulicoloured LEDs with various LED spacing for different intensities, and transformers of various capacities to match the current requirements of the installed LEDs. They also have some dimmers, switches to round out the installation. I made my lighting plan, decided to go with white LEDs with a one LED every 1/2 inch spacing (high intensity) and the appropriate transformer.

Power Supply Mounted in the Wall Cabinet - with all my tool chargers
The LED light strips are high quality - you can select between two different white colors - warm or natural white - and the light strips come with a 3M adhesive backing to apply directly to the application surface. I decided to go with the natural white in the garage, and the light is bright and clear - perfect for task lighting. Prior to application of the light strips, I used a bit of brake cleaner on a rag to clean off the melamine lower surface of the Ikea cabinets - just to ensure I would get good adhesion. This worked fine - 18 months following installation the LED strips haven't moved or delaminated.

The Lee Valley Kit comes with connectors to allow you to cut the strips to custom length
I decided to control the light strip 30W transformer with an Insteon switch for automation control, and installed the switch and a two plug outlet in a 4" junction box using a twin outlet cover plate. This way, I got 2 electrical outlets above the table saw. I mounted the transformer inside the Ikea cabinet on the plywood board I installed for all my cordless tool chargers.

Surface Mount Junction Box with Switch Adapter Cover Plate, Insteon Control Switch, and Power Outlet


The Lee Valley LED light kits are top quality, very versatile with many options. I have above average confidence that if I need to repair or modify this installation, I'll be able to get parts or components from Lee Valley in the future. The finished installation is neat and professional looking, the light quality is very good and suited for the application. All in all - very satisfied with this product.

Light thrown from completed installation.

Sources and Links

I hope you found this post useful. Feel free to ask questions in the comments section below. I answer all questions. The Armacost lighting components were sources from Lee Valley Tools.


Troubleshooting Central Vacuum Suction Issues - Old Nutone CV-400 Power Unit and Upgrade to Cana-Vac

It's been a while since my last post - life has been flying by at a rapid pace - and I'd like to post how I verified my central vac performance and resolved the suction issue.

30 year old house, central vacuum was installed at construction, and when we moved into the house about 6 years ago - one of the repairs I had to do was to repair broken or unglued central vac piping that was accessible in the basement. The other thing I did at that time was move the central vac to a corner of the basement utilty room to get it out of the way. Once I repaired the piping issues - the central vac cleaned up about a pound of sand and grit that was lining the bottom of the central vac piping - and the system was serviceable.

In the past year however, it was clear that the central vac wasn't performing well - it couldn't pick small pebbles off the floor, and it really wasn't dealing with the dog hair all that well. I did some internet research - looked at my options - and the first thing I decided to do was to baseline the suction performance before doing any repairs - so I would have some data to show whether my repairs did any good.

I rigged up a suction test using a plastic shop vac adapter, some duct tape, and a vacuum gauge that I had in the garage for tuning dual carburetor motorcycles:

Shop Vac Tool Adapter - Opening Covered in Duct Tape - Vacuum Hose to Vacuum Gauge

Vacuum Gauge Hooked up to the Central Vacuum Port

Vacuum Gauge - Reading approximately 35mm Hg
35mmHg converts to about 19 inches of water column suction. Comparing that to specifications of new vacuum cleaners - new machines are rated to pull up to 110 inches of water column - so my system was performing at about 20% of a new machine. No wonder it was struggling.

The next step was to remove the Central Vac from the installation - so that I could get the covers off and inspect it - and once I had the central vac removed - I installed my Shop Vac on the piping system to check to see if I could remove any debris from the vacuum lines and improve the suction at the test port.

Install Shop Vac on Central Vacuum Piping to Test Vacuum Lines
This worked quite well - the Shop Vac was able to triple the suction at the test port - and I got to about 60 inches of water column. I think I was able to clean some debris from the suction lines as well - I tested each port in the house - however I don't think that I had any fully clogged lines that would have accounted for the poor Central Vac performance. One thing about this test - the Shop Vac worked quite well as a power unit for the Central Vacuum piping - you could probably do this in a pinch without the installation of a proper Central Vacuum power unit.

Inspecting the Motors of the Central Vac Unit
Next step was to remove the top cover of the Nutone CV-400 power unit to check motor brushes and the air pathways. I powered up the unit with the top cover off (you have to take care - there is live 120V AC in this compartment of the central vac - to inspect the running of the brushes. One motor was giving quite large blue sparks at the brushes - which seemed to be an indication that the brushes were finished. I also removed the motors from the installation and found that one motor inlet was almost completely blocked by a piece of plastic that had worked it's way by the bag filter at some point - which certainly would have impacted performance.

I then started looking for motor parts - brushes - for these two Lamb motors. The only numbers marked on the motors were these green letters on the vacuum housing. And guess what - no motor nameplate, no motor part number, and no part numbers on the brushes. No way to identify which motors these were, no simple way to order the replacement brushes online to make a repair with the confidence I would get the right parts. 

Casting numbers for the metal vacuum housings - these are not motor part numbers
Not cool - not putting part numbers on these motors / brushes - certainly not a way to support sustainable development and the ability to repair your appliances instead of replacing them. At this point - my option would have been to take the unit to a repair shop that would be able to identify the motors and make the repairs. When I assessed the time and cost of doing that - I decided to replace the central vac with a completely new power unit. I did some research on suction and performance - there is a liability with running two motors in parallel as this central vacuum is configured - you get much better performance with a single larger motor with a vacuum impellor of larger diamater, so I decided to go with a new, single motor, tangential bypass power unit made by CanaVac.

New Central Vac Power Unit by Cana-Vac
Measuring the suction at my test port - I was up to close to 100 inches of water column - a five times improvement in suction - and the performance increase was substantial at the end of the hose. This has turned out to be a great performance upgrade - although - I was disappointed that I couldn't repair the original vacuum but I figured that even once repaired it still wouldn't have great performance - it would have been limited by the sub-par performance of the smaller parallel motors.

Sources and Links

I hope you found this post useful. Feel free to ask questions in the comments section below. I answer all questions.


Installing the Rain Machine Internet Connected Smart Irrigation Controller

I finally got around to replacing my 25 year old analog Toro irrigation controller. I have to say - this Toro controller was built like a tank - still functioning perfectly after 25 years - but limited by the functionality developed at the time.

Rain Machine - Completed Installation
Here's a photo of the Toro that I replaced:

Toro Analog Irrigation Controller
The rationale for replacing the Toro controller was to have multiple watering programs for different phases of lawn care during the year - for example - a soaking program following fertilizer or nemotode treatments, programs to water under the large shade trees which don't receive a lot of rain water when the leaves are on the tree, spring and summer watering programs, etc. The advantage of the Rain Machine is that you can create these programs, and enable, disable or schedule them as required, all from your smart phone or tablet. You can also have multiple programs enabled concurrently - which is useful for watering flowerbeds on a different schedule than watering your lawn.

The Rain Machine was quite simple to install. I began by labelling all the wires attached to the Toro controller prior to removing the Toro. There was a few peculiar wiring characteristics worth mentioning. The rain sensor in my system was simply an interrupt switch on the common circuit - so I had to identify the two wires going to the rain sensor which wouldn't be used with the Rain Machine - the Rain Machine uses weather forecasting and rainfall data to modify watering based on internet weather data. The rain sensor is not required (and in my case, was not functioning anyway). 

Once I began installation of the Rain Machine - I immediately ran into a problem. The wiring connections on the Rain Machine are TINY - the manual specifies it will take wire from 14 to 22 gauge - but it was impossible to install the wiring from my system directly to the Rain Machine connections - my wiring was stranded 12 or 14 guage wire - and it wasn't possible to get them installed security. So - I ended up crimping on short pigtails of 18 gauge stranded wire to be able to make the connections securely. 

Installation of 18 gauge pigtails to my irrigation cabling, to permit secure connections to the connection blocks

18 gauge pigtails to facilitate connections to the tight terminal blocks on the Rain Machine
Once the wiring was completed - there was a second problem - it looked horrible, and there was no way to install cable relief to prevent the wires from being pulled out of the connection blocks. If you compare this to the Toro irrigation controller, which had a large cavity for making the connections, complete with a cable grommet to secure the field wiring and prevent it from being pulled out of the connection blocks. 

Not a pretty installation - no place to hide the cables inside the Rain Machine. 
In order to neaten the installation - I used a short length of plastic cable channel used in automation panel cabling - to tuck the wires and help prevent them from physical damage / snagging / pulling from the connection blocks.

Plastic cable channel for hiding field wiring
Once this was done - I also tucked the power cable from the power brick into the cable channel, and covered the channel to completely hide the wiring. 

Cover on the cable channel
What would be my constructive criticism to Rain Machine to facilitate installation? Larger cable termination block, wider spaced terminals to accept larger gauge field wiring, and some form of cable management for neater field installations. You can see that they've put an emphasis on the industrial design of this unit, and made it as small as possible. This seems to sacrifice the practicality of installation, however.


How does the Rain Machine work in practice? Quite well - the smartphone / tablet app works very well, intuitive - quick to run individual zones, easy to set programs, run multiple programs at a time, disable programs without deleting them so that you can keep them from season to season, and nice to see the watering history and weather history, and the adaptation of watering times based on the weather and rainfall history. I haven't had a chance to check on Alexa integration yet, will update the post when I get the chance.

Sources and Links

I hope you found this post useful. Feel free to ask questions in the comments section below. I answer all questions.


Solving slow clothes drying performance with an inline duct booster fan - Fantech DBF4XL

Since moving into our new house - we've seen our clothes drying times double. The clothes dryer gets very warm, but due to a long duct run to the exterior of the house - airflow is reduced. The duct run is about 30 feet, not including losses due to elbows and fittings. Large loads would take 2 hours to dry.
The Fantech DBF4XL Dryer Booster Fan with Pneumatic Sensing Control
Some research lead to inline dryer duct fans - which improve dryer performance by overcoming the duct loss due to the length of the duct. I have a standard clothes dryer with 4" diameter round ductwork. The ducts were all sheet metal ducts, with only a short length of flexible at the dryer connection, so the ductwork was already optimized by being as smooth and as short as possible to reach the exterior of the house.

Fantech DBF4XL - Serial Number Plate - On the Pneumatic Timer Control Box
I decided to go with a Fantech model with a pneumatic switch that automatically detects the change in air pressure in the dryer duct when the dryer is activiated, then turns on the booster fan in 10 minute timed periods. At the end of the 10 minutes - the booster fan switches itself off - and if the dryer is still operating - the pneumatic control turns the fan back on for another 10 minutes. I found the Fantech DBF4XL on eBay - previously installed but never used - for a good price.

Reading the installation instructions for the fan - they recommend the installation of a secondary lint screen upstream of the fan to help protect the fan from clogging with lint. When I opened my dryer duct - I had plenty of lint in the duct - which indicated that the lint screen in my dryer was passing a lot of lint - more on this later. So - onto eBay where I found a Fantech secondary dryer lint trap for a reasonable price.

Once the secondary lint trap and fan were received, I set to work. My dryer vent line ran through the basement under the first floor where the laundry room is. So - it was a simple matter to cut into the dryer line where it ran under the floor - and duct in the secondary lint trap and the booster fan.

The secondary lint trap has a clear plastic window which helps to show when the filter box needs cleaning. It's a neat looking installation - but would be much more convenient installed directly behind the dryer.
Installing the Fantech Secondary Dryer Lint Trap - Note the Laser Line - Simplifies Lining up the Ductwork
The filter box ending up screwing directly into some wood cross members under the floor - straight through the base of the filter box. Very simple.
Fantech Secondary Dryer Lint Trap - Installing the Filter Box with the Cover Removed - Note the Laser Line
When installing the secondary lint trap and lining up the booster fan - I used a laser level with vertical laser line to line the filter box, fan and ductwork nice and straight - to have a professional looking installation. The laser really facilitates the installation.
Installing a wood block to install the Dryer Duct Booster Fan - Four Tapcon Screws into the Elevated Concrete Slab

Secondary Dryer Lint Filter Upsteam of Dryer Booster Fan

Secondary Lint Filter and Dryer Booster Fan Installed
Very important installation point on the booster fan - the booster fan uses a pneumatic diaphragm switch - the copped colored cylinder in the photo below. The diaphragm needs to be oriented vertically so that gravity does not act on the diaphragm - which would work either for or against the pneumatic pressure and upset the operation of the switch - your switch would either be on all the time, or not activate reliably on duct pressure. It's very simple to rotate the fan on the installation bracket so that the diaphragm is vertical. When installing the bracket - take care not to install the self tapping screws to close to the center of the fan enclosure - you could screw into the fan impellor and block the impellor from turning. It's not as complicated as it sounds - you just need to take care with these points on installation.
Fantech Dryer Booster Fan - Note the Orientation of the Copper Colored Pneumatic Switch - This needs to be oriented vertically for it to work properly.


So - how does it work? Perfectly. It switches on and off automatically as described above. I haven't had any issues with the booster fan turning on when not required, and it recycles automatically in the ten minute intervals without any issue.  The secondary lint filter needs to be cleaned once every two dryer loads on average - which is more frequently than what I hoped. It would have been much more convenient to have the secondary filter installed in the laundry room - for easier cleaning - but this wasn't practical in my installation without adding a lot more ductwork. Something for me to consider in the future.

The dryer cycles have been reduced by almost one half, 2 hour dryer loads now dry in about an hour - and the automatic dry cycles now work reasonably well - before - the automatic dry cycles never got the laundry dry.

4 Year Update

Still working 100% reliably after 4 years - at least 6 laundry loads a week. The secondary lint filter is a MUST - it is amazing how much lint misses the dryer lint trap. Super impressed with the performance and durability of this fan - no problems at all. 

Sources and Links

I hope you found this post useful. Feel free to ask questions in the comments section below. I answer all questions. If you're interested, you can help support this site by using the following links to in the United States.


Basement Concrete Floor Paint - Single Part Epoxy Paint

Our 25 year old house has (had) a concrete floor in the basement utility room that was a bit more than rough. A spiderweb of hairline cracks, and some surface abrasion / weakness caused by lack of maintenance and efflorescence in certain places. It looked like the concrete had been painted at one time, but it was very difficult to tell.

The completed floor paint job.

Concrete prepared for painting - all cracks filled with Sika Epoxy Crack Fill
With the basement insulation project, where all the perimeter walls had to be cleared so that the drywall could be removed, and spray polyurethane foam insulation applied - it was the perfect time to paint the perimeter of the concrete floor. Prior to paint, I repaired all the floor cracks with Sika Crack Fix - from hairline cracks to the largest cracks which measured approximately 4mm wide at their widest. 15 tubes of Sika Crack Fix - $300 worth of epoxy - and all the cracks were filled and the floor ready to paint.

Cracks repaired that run into floor sump
For a concrete floor paint job, I highly recommend that you have a belt sander - it's perfect for smoothing out any surface roughness, high spots on epoxy crack fill, and buffing out any surface imprefections due to efflorescence. Since I just need a belt sander for this project, I bought an inexpensive Skil 3 x 18" belt sander - the 6A 7510 with pressure control. It's a nice tool, and was perfect for this job.

For paint - I decided to go with a simple single part epoxy. I did not want to get into two part epoxies requiring mixing of part A and part B - since I wouldn't have any heavy loads or vehicles on the floor. I also wanted a brand name product with a good reputation, commonly available at local building stores - so that I could restock easily, and hopefully procure the same product for touchups every couple of years.

I settled on the Kilz single part epoxy concrete floor paint - reasonably priced and with good online reviews, from a good manufacturer.

Kilz Concrete and Garage Floor Paint
I had several spots with efflorescence - a white crystalline staining in several spots on the floor - particularly around 3 or 4 concrete columns supporting the garage elevated slab. I chose to simply wash the efflorescence with the concrete wash product recommended by the paint instructions - KILZ Concrete & Masonry Cleaner & Degreaser.

Following the first coat of paint, I found that any places I had raised epoxy repairs, and I hadn't sanded the epoxy - I didn't get a particularly good bond of the paint to the epoxy. So for some spots, I went back and sanded down the epoxy crack fills with the belt sander, which also roughened the epoxy and improved adhesion of the paint.

Sanding down Epoxy crack repairs flush with the concrete
I also found that where I had heavy efflorescence stains, and I only cleaned with the KILZ Concrete & Masonry Cleaner & Degreaser, the paint puffed up as it dried, and gave very poor adhesion. So it was clear - I had to do a better job dealing with the efflorescence prior to painting.

Halo of efflorescence around concrete column - led to poor adhesion.
At the spots where I had poor adhesion - I used the belt sander to take the paint back down to the concrete, and physically remove any efflorescence from the surface. Then I used the recommended concrete etching product - KILZ Concrete & Masonry Cleaner & Etcher. This product was aggressive on the efflorescence, and soaked into the porous surface of the concrete - bubbling and hissing whereever it encountered the efflorescence. I then cleaned with rinse water, and let dry for 24 hours. When I went back to inspect the concrete - the concrete was perfectly clean, dry and natural coloured, except in a few spots where there was some new white efflorescence on the surface of the concrete - much less than before. So at these spots - I did a second treatment with the KILZ Concrete & Masonry Cleaner & Etcher, and waited another 24 hours. Following the second treatment, I had no further efflorescence on the surface of the concrete.

Efflorscence repair - sand down the paint, remove the efflorescence with Concrete Etch, and repair weak surfaces with a thin layer of Sika Epoxy Crack Fix
So - I then applied a second coat of paint - and so far - it seems to have beat the efflorescence, no puffiness or lack of adhesion in the paint, and better bonding of the paint to the epoxy crack fix.

Finally - I had spots of the concrete floor where there were small sections - up to a foot long by 6 inches wide - where the surface of the concrete had started crumbling slightly, leaving a rough surface. At these spots, I used Sika Crack Fix applied across the surface, spread out with a putty knife, and sanded flat with the belt sander once cured. This protected the concrete surface, and gave a nice smooth surface for the paint to adhere to.

Rough surface repair with Sika Epoxy Crack Fix - levels chips 
The final product look much much cleaner, and neat. A huge improvement. A bit of an investment in time and effort, but I think it should pay off when it comes time to sell the house.

Final floor repair


Foundation Wall Vertical Crack Repair

I've been writing about my basement insulation upgrade project, which was driven by some air quality issues in my home - such as musty odours during humid periods in the summer. We made the decision to take down all the drywall from the perimeter walls in the basement, remove all the old insulation and vapour barrier, and replace the insulation and vapour barrier with 4" minimum sprayed polyurethane closed cell foam, from the top to the bottom of the walls, including the rim joist area at the top of the foundation wall.

Injecting crack with Sika Crack Fix structural epoxy
Once we got the drywall removed from the perimeter of the basement, we quickly noted three issues - two vertical cracks in our poured concrete foundation walls, and some water entering around a bundle of cables coming through the foundation wall about 2' below grade. We couldn't proceed with the foam installation until the vertical cracks were dealt with - water leaking in behind the foam may be able to force it's way through the foam and find its way into the structure of the wall, causing decay, damage and possibly mould.

Vertical foundation wall crack, running from bottom corner of basement window, to just above the footing
The cracks were quite narrow - about 1mm wide on average, and extended from the corners of two windows in the basement, vertically down towards the foundation footing at the base of the wall. The cracks narrowed in the last foot above the footing. It didn't appear that these cracks were actively leaking, however efflorescence around the cracks seemed to indicate that they had leaked in the past, and that the enormous air movement in the underinsulated walls permitted any water entry to mostly evaporate. There was no evidence of mould or structural damage. I would suggest here that if the cracks are significant, the water ingress is significant, and if there is any damage to the interior walls, etc - it might be a good idea to get the assistance of a professional foundation repair contractor. A foundation crack is significant, and needs to be repaired correctly. Consider professional help with this.

I've been using Sika Crack Fix - a two part structural epoxy - to repair some floor slab cracks in the basement, so I have some experience with its properties. This product ships in the format of a small caulking tube - and is applied using a standard caulking gun. About half of the tube contains usable product, and it uses special mixing tube tips which mix the two parts of epoxy as the product is expelled from the gun. The product is very fluid (non-viscous) - it flows very freely and can infiltrate narrow cracks. It is a structural epoxy, which means that it bonds to both sides of the crack in the concrete - repairing the original strength of the concrete. It is not flexible however, and once the concrete is bonded together with the epoxy, it should resist further movement.

Sika Crack Fix structural epoxy, note the mixing tips on the left that mix the 2 components on application

Sika Crack Fix installed in a standard caulking gun, ready for application
Larger cracks, or cracks that move - may require a different repair product. There are polyurethane foam products like SikaFix PU which are expanding - and that I have no experience with - another good reason to consider the assistance of a crack repair contractor - they should be able to guide you into the selection of the best product / solution for your problem. Finally - I believe that cracks in concrete block walls are a whole other problem entirely due to the voids in the blocks. Again - no experience here - and consider getting in a pro for this type of problem.

So - since the cracks were thin, didn't appear to be active, and should benefit from a structural repair - I decided to do a structural epoxy repair. I've used Sika products in the past, so I decided to use Sika products for this repair - but there are other manufacturers offering similar products that could be considered for this job. I don't have any experience with other products, so I can't make any comparisons.

The datasheet for Sika Crack Fix provides detailed instructions for performing both horizontal and vertical repairs. I followed the datasheet guidelines for the vertical crack repair, which required some other products to make the repair. In short - here are the steps:
  • Clean out the crack with a vacuum or compressed air;
  • Bond injection ports along the crack - spaced out every 6 inches or so
  • Cover the crack using a waterstop repair cement
  • Inject the crack fix epoxy into the injection ports - completely filling the crack from bottom to top
  • Plug the injection ports to avoid losing the epoxy through the lower ports
My first attempt with the first crack was less than perfect - I was in a rush and tried to get the repair done in one evening, the injection ports had not bonded against the concrete, and the waterstop cement had not cured / hardened, and when I injected the epoxy - I ended up with a fair amount leaking out and running down the wall. My second repair went much better - so here's what I learned and how I did it. 

To help with getting the best bond with the injection ports to the wall - I started by using my small 5" orbital sander to clean the concrete wall surface, and take out the small surface irregularities / loose material. I then cleaned the crack and wall surface really well with the Shop-Vac.

Wall surface cleaned and ready for installation of injection ports
I used 5 minute epoxy to bond the injection ports to the wall - a quick set time for this epoxy greatly simplifies installation, and ensures a good bond to the wall. Note that the epoxy will not bond well to the injection port plastic material - so use a bit of extra epoxy at the end to overlap the edges of the injection port to assure a good bond to the wall. This epoxy cures in 8 hours - and I allowed the full cure time to ensure the ports were well installed on the wall - this will make the application of the waterstop repair cement much easier and reliable. Other adhesives can also be used, such as hot melt glue and silicone adhesive - hot melt glue may speed the job by setting up more quickly, and allowing you to move to the next step without delay.

Injection port installed with 5 minute epoxy. 
With the injection ports well bonded to the wall, it's time to apply the waterstop repair cement. Sika recommends Sikaset Plug. It's sold in many different formats at your local home improvement store, 1kg, 5kg and 25kg sizes. For the repair of 2 vertical cracks - about 6 feet long each, the 5kg bag was perfect. This product sets in 2 to 3 minutes - its working time is very very quick. This required some organization to get the best results out of the product, and make an effective repair. I went to the dollar store, picked up 2 sets of plastic measuring cups - so that I could make the mix consistently every time without fiddling with adding a bit more water or a bit more cement. The mix ratio is three parts cement to one part water - and you don't want to make too stiff a mix otherwise it will set even quicker - and give you only about a minute of working time. I was mixing about 1/2 a cup of cement at a time.

Sikaset Plug hydraulic repair mortar - note the dollar store measuring cup to make successive small mixes quickly and consistent.
In addition, I was working behind a 2x4 wall stud - it's important to give yourself enough space to trowel this material onto the wall - taking the time to move the stud out of the way will improve the quality of the finished job. Finally - I took a pointing trowel and bent the tip at 90 degrees - so I could work between the surrounding 2x4 studs, and work the material around the injection ports within the limited space. This was my most important trick for successful application.

Pointing trowel bent to 90 degrees - for working in the wall space between surrounding wall studs
It's important to follow the directions for the Sikaset Plug, begin by cleaning and wetting the wall surface, and keep the wall surface wet - it will improve the adhesion of the Sikaset Plug to the wall. I applied the cement about 1/2" thick, 4" on each side of the crack, with a bit of extra cement around the injection ports, just to ensure the injection ports are well supported by the cement for later when the epoxy will be injected.

Concrete wall surface wet, working the Sikaset plug up from bottom to top
Working Sikaset Plug around the injection ports
With the Sikaset Plug applied from top to bottom of the crack, I allowed the morter to fully cure for 8 hours prior to injection of the epoxy. If you don't give the mortar enough time to cure, the epoxy under pressure will force up the injection ports breaking the mortar, and the mortar will lift off the wall. When it's time to inject the epoxy, set up the cartridge by removing the cap and plug, inserting the adapter and mixing tube, screwing on the retaining ring, and putting the cartridge into the caulking gun. Slow, steady, even pressure and patience to give time for the epoxy to work it's way through the crack is required. I applied pressure for about 2 minutes for each injection port, and waited until epoxy started flowing out the next injection ports above and below before moving up to the next port. Once I injected all the ports, I started back at the bottom and gave each port a second application to ensure the crack was completely filled, and then capped all the injection ports.

Capped injection port
My wall is about 8 inches thick, and the cracks were about 6 feet long. Each crack, about 1mm wide, took about 3/4 of a tube of epoxy each. If your cracks are wider - consider using the expanding polyurethane foam product instead of the epoxy.