Breaking up concrete is a hard, hard job, and that is why hiring a professional is well-worth the cost. However, if you have a relatively small slab of concrete, then you may be able to break up the concrete yourself. Below are some hints for breaking up a small section of concrete and disposing of the rubble.
Get the Right Tools
Keep in mind that using the right tools and equipment for breaking up concrete will make the work less difficult and time-consuming. Here are a few essentials that you should have ready before starting.
- Sledgehammer—Though it is the ultimate "grunt tool," a four-pound sledgehammer can do a lot of destruction if handled correctly.
- San Angelo bar—This long pry bar has a wedge shape on one end for prying up objects, and its best use when busting concrete is to serve as a focal point for a sledgehammer's blows.
- Wheelbarrow—Choose a heavy duty wheelbarrow that will withstand repeated, heavy blows from chunks of concrete.
- Gloves—Wearing heavy work gloves is a must when breaking up concrete, as the stress on your hands will cause terrible blisters, especially if you aren't used to hard labor.
- Eye protection—Never attempt to break apart concrete without eye protection; there will be lots of tiny fragments flying, and these could blind you.
- Plywood—You will also want to protect your home, including windows, siding and landscaping, from concrete by using scrap pieces of plywood set up around the edges of the work site.
Other tools can be helpful, such as jackhammers, but these will add to the cost and complexity of the removal process. If the concrete contains rebar, which are steel reinforcing bars, then you will need a bolt cutter to cut the metal into sections.
Understand the Basic Concrete Breaking Stroke
It may seem there is nothing more to breaking up concrete than whacking it with a sledgehammer, but this is far from the complete truth. Instead, you will need to approach the job with a strategic point-of-view and work intelligently.
To begin breaking up a piece of concrete, start at a corner of the slab and work inward. Position yourself approximately 3 feet from the desired impact point, and have a helper pry the pointed end of a San Angelo bar underneath the edge of the slab.
Have the helper work the end of the bar underneath the slab about six inches, if possible, then ask them to pry upward and hold. Next, use the sledgehammer to strike the concrete at a point directly above the bar; if the blow is effective, it will introduce a crack into the concrete, and you should continue to exploit the weakness until it breaks through the slab.
Disposal Options for Concrete
Another big consideration when breaking up old concrete is how to dispose of the rubble. There are concrete recyclers who grind up old concrete and sell it for re-use in other structures; these companies may provide you with a low-cost alternative for disposal. However, keep in mind that you are often responsible for moving the concrete to its new destination, and you will either need to pay for a pick up service or get the material to a recycling company.
Since this process can be time consuming, even for individuals with a heavy duty pickup truck, the best option is to rent a waste disposal container. Contact a local container supplier and inform them you wish to dump concrete, so they can provide the right sized bin.
Avoid using your ordinary residential trash service, since they can't remove more than a very small amount of concrete at a time or may prohibit the practice altogether.
Contact a Local Demolition Company
Once you consider the amount of work involved in breaking up a concrete slab, as well as the need to dispose of all the chunks of concrete and debris, then you may decide it is better to obtain the services of a qualified demolition company. There may be more upfront cost when hiring demolition work, but a professional can perform the job more quickly, with less mess, and without the hassles and physical demands placed upon you. Learn more by contacting a concrete and brick salvage company.