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Breaking Up Isn't Hard To Do With These Concrete-Busting Tips

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Getting rid of that concrete patio or driveway can be a back-breaking job without the right tools and advice. With just a bit of planning and know-how, you can speed up your project and save yourself some time, money and effort. The following offers plenty of helpful tips for concrete removal and disposal:

What's Your Disposal Strategy?

Before you start busting concrete, you should create a plan to dispose the rubble. You have the option of either disposing of it yourself or call a disposal company to leave behind a bin for dumping your rubble. Either way, keep the following in mind:

  • If you plan on hauling your own rubble, check with nearby recycling centers to see if they accept concrete. Some centers accept concrete rubble for free, while others charge a small fee for each load. These places may charge higher rates if the concrete contains any reinforcing metal.
  • If you plan on renting a rubbish container, measure the dimensions of your patio or driveway first and let the experts at the rental place decide on the proper size. It'll save you the headache of receiving a bin that's the wrong size for the job at hand.

Choosing the Right Tools

Having the right concrete equipment rentals (and knowing how to use them properly) can mean the difference between a job done quickly and one that takes nearly forever to accomplish. Here are a few tools you'll likely have access to during your project:

  • Sledgehammer – The humble sledgehammer might not seem like much, but it's a powerful tool for most small-scale concrete-busting jobs.
  • Jackhammer – A jackhammer is just the tool for dealing with medium-sized expanses of concrete or particularly thick slabs. However, it's usually overkill for the majority of home renovation projects. According to the Jackhammer Rental Guide, most small electric jackhammers cost $60 per day to rent, while larger pneumatic variants cost $115 per day.
  • Skid-steer – Skid-steers can be used to lift up and break apart large expanses of concrete. It's a good option for projects that involve busting up long driveways, plus you can use the skid-steer to transport and dispose the debris. CostHelper notes that a typical skid-steer rental costs $150 to $350 per day.

You might want to consider renting a power wheelbarrow for hauling rubble, especially if the job site is located on a steep slope. Power wheelbarrows come walk-behind and rideable forms, powered by an electric motor or gasoline engine.

Otherwise, you can use a heavy-duty manual wheelbarrow for your concrete disposal duties. Forget about using a light-duty wheelbarrow – it won't hold up to the rigors of hauling those concrete chunks.

Special Tips and Tricks

  • Cover the slab with heavy-duty polyethylene sheeting to keep down dust and debris. It also keeps flying shrapnel from breaking windows and injuring nearby workers.
  • A heavy-duty pry bar comes in handy for breaking up concrete, especially when it's covered underneath the polyethylene sheeting. Have a helper pry one end of the concrete slab and hammer away just a few inches away from the bar.
  • When dealing with concrete reinforced with steel mesh, it's a good idea to have a pair of bolt cutters on hand. You'll need these to snip away portions of the steel mesh as you break the slab down into smaller chunks. Otherwise, the reinforcing mesh will make it much harder to break down those chunks.
  • When using the jackhammer, stick with the chisel-point tip and work in 2 to 3-inch increments away from the nearest crack to prevent getting stuck.

The best piece of advice for any concrete-busting job is to have a friend or two around for a little help. The time it takes to perform a job on your own can be cut in half just by having a couple of extra helping hands to break up and remove the concrete.