How to Break Concrete
Concrete is known for being exceptionally strong and durable. While these qualities are great for building bridges and foundations, they’re not so good for breaking concrete apart.
Breaking concrete can be tough, but with the right tools, skills and knowledge, it can be made easier. In this article, we explain how to break up concrete safely and effectively.
What equipment do you need to break up concrete?
There are various tools you can use to break up concrete. These include:
Sledgehammer and pry bar
Using a sledgehammer is a common way to break up concrete and is recommended if the slab of concrete is less than three inches thick. A sledgehammer is very effective at breaking up concrete but will require a lot of elbow grease.
Jackhammers are the preferred tool for breaking concrete over three inches thick. You can use electric jackhammers or pneumatic jackhammers, both of which are just as effective at breaking up concrete.
A chipping hammer gives you greater control than a sledgehammer or jackhammer. They are ideal for concrete that isn’t simply a fat slab because you can use them to chip at tight spaces or unorthodox corners.
What to consider before you start
Make sure you consider the following before tackling the concrete slab:
- Is your slab less than four inches thick?
Concrete that is less than four inches thick can be handled with a sledgehammer. Anything thicker will require other power tools.
- Is your concrete reinforced?
Reinforced concrete will be especially difficult to break through and may require an electric saw. If your concrete contains rebar, you’ll likely need to hire a professional.
- Are there any utilities under your concrete?
Contact your utilities company to make sure you don’t risk damaging any utilities by breaking through the concrete.
How to break concrete
- 1. Cover the concrete slab with plastic sheeting, especially if you’re working near windows
- 2. Dig under the concrete if possible
- 3. Starting from the edges and working your way in, use your chosen tool to break up the concrete.
- 4. If using a sledgehammer, pry the concrete with a crowbar as you go.
- 5. Cut any mesh with bolt cutters or an electric saw
- 6. Dispose of the rubble in a suitable skip
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