Breaking up Concrete
Breaking up a concrete slab may seem like an impossible do-it-yourself project, but believe it or not, this is a task you can do yourself. The trick is using the right tools and safety equipment and following the right steps.
This article will advise on how you can remove a concrete slab, floor, pathway, garden feature or parking area. Concrete is meant to last a long time and be very stable so you will need to use powerful equipment and always take proper safety precautions when undertaking this project.
Step 1: Wear Safety Gear
This project will require power tools and you will be working with rough materials, so it’s vital that you wear earplugs, a hard hat, safety goggles and a face mask to protect your mouth and to avoid inhaling substances. You should wear sturdy boots and tough clothing with long sleeves and legs to protect yourself from loose debris. When hiring equipment through hss.com the recommended safety gear will be shown in your basket.
Step 2: Prepare the Area
Make sure there aren’t any water, gas, power or telephone lines nearby or underneath the slab you are breaking up. The area should be completely clear of sticks, leaves, debris, tools, rocks and anything else that may get in your way.
Step 3: Prepare Your Tools
If you are breaking up a slab, you will need an electric heavy-duty breaker to break the concrete. Make sure you have a power outlet or transformer that is able to handle a heavy-duty breaker. This will be offered to you when booking online or recommended in branch when placing your order. You can check the instructions and labels that come with the machine to see what kind of voltage it requires before you purchase or hire it. Directions from manufacturers may also include specific safety precautions you should take as you use the tool.
Step 4: Get your footing
The best way to remove large concrete slabs is to break it up into several smaller pieces. This makes it easier to remove and discard. It is best to start at the side that is farthest away from you so that as you break the concrete, you can stand on the solid, flat concrete that hasn’t been broken yet. It is extremely important that you have a solid place to stand and that you have good footing while you are using the breaker. Make sure the power cord is behind you and is not near the point of the breaker. HSS offer a wide range of breaking tools, browse the range on hss.com.
Step 5: Break up the slab
Start with the point of the breaker touching the cement and then switch the tool on. The tool will start vibrating because it is hammering the point into the cement hundreds of times per minute. Hold the breaker firmly and upright and let the point crack and break the surface of the slab. Work slowly and carefully and let the breaker do the work. You should never push the breaker into the concrete in a diagonal direction or use it as a lever because this could cause damage and potentially be dangerous to you.
Step 6: Break into smaller pieces
A great tip is to look for cracks and broken pieces of concrete and work the breaker along those. This will make it much easier to break up the concrete. It can also be helpful to pause periodically and remove concrete debris that is in your way as you work your way across the slab.
The best approach is to break the concrete up in the pattern of a grid. You can break it up into any size of pieces you want, as long as they are small enough to remove and discard of. Whenever you turn the breaker off, hold it until it is completely turned off and no longer moving before you put it down.
Step 7: Dispose of the slab
Once the slab is broken up you can use a wrecking bar to break it into even smaller pieces where necessary. Then, use a shovel to scoop the concrete pieces into a skip and a push broom to sweep up smaller pieces and dust.
Using a heavy-duty breaker to break and remove concrete is a major project, but with the right tools, safety precautions and some planning, it can be done.
Remember to exercise caution when working around dust always using recommended PPE
View our dedicated health and safety blog here – dust safety advice, for the complete run down on handling dust from concrete and a construction site in general.
Back to articles