Homeowners who plan to remodel their outdoor property or add landscaping sometimes need to remove an old patio or concrete slab first. Those who are up for the intense manual labor may be able to complete the job on their own. The first thing to decide before starting is whether to use a sledgehammer or a jackhammer.
The benefit of the second option is that most hardware and home improvement stores rent electric jackhammers by the hour. It can be much easier on the body because it eliminates the need to swing a heavy sledgehammer manually hundreds of times.
However, homeowners also need to consider that an electric jackhammer typically weighs at least four times as much as a sledgehammer.
Other Tools and Equipment Needed
Homeowners will also need a pry bar and a high-lift jack like what auto mechanics use to raise a car. It’s also a good idea to gather work gloves, safety glasses, a shovel, buckets, and a trailer or truck to place the broken slabs and haul them away at the end of the job. Patios should be completely clear before starting the work of breaking up the concrete slabs.
How to Start Breaking Up the Concrete
The job of removing old concrete is a bit easier if it already has large cracks in it. That is because the homeowner just needs to place the pry bar at the intersection where the cracks meet and apply strong pressure, so the spearing tip penetrates the concrete.
One person should hold the pry bar in place while another swings the sledgehammer to break off larger concrete pieces. The person wielding the hammer should stop every few swings to pick up rubble.
It’s possible to remove concrete with a depth of less than four inches by using a sledgehammer. Homeowners can ease strain on their bodies by allowing the sledgehammer to fall with each swing. Here is how to do that:
- Grab the handle of the sledgehammer with one hand positioned close to the head
- Place the other hand towards the end of the sledgehammer
- Lift the sledgehammer high but not over the head
- Allow the sledgehammer to fall without exerting additional force
When breaking up the concrete, homeowners should make the pieces only as large as they can comfortably carry to the truck or trailer. Small and crumbled pieces should be swept from the area and placed in a bag.
Proper Disposal of Old Concrete Slabs
Most city governments don’t allow homeowners to dispose of concrete in the regular trash. Renting a dumpster and then having the rental company haul away the debris is one option. Another is to repurpose the concrete for use in a rock garden, fire pit, stone pathway or another outdoor landscaping project.
Don’t Overlook the Dangers of Do-It-Yourself Concrete Removal
While a DIY concrete removal project can save money, sometimes it isn’t worth the risks involved. These include the risks of injury, damage to property, disposal costs, and uncertainty about local regulations.
Hiring a professional for concrete removal may be the best option. The company will handle all the heavy manual labor, remove the debris, and haul it to the most appropriate recycling facility.
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