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Breaking thick concrete floor with concrete breaking tool

Discussion in 'In the Garden' started by russellpeters, 12 May 2013.

  1. russellpeters

    russellpeters

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    I wanted the opinions of more experienced forum members on whether a intermediate level, hard-working DIYer like me can break about 30 square meters of 10 cm thick concrete in a total of 12-16 hours (spread over multiple days) using a hired concrete breaker. I am of medium built and am not a muscleman/bodybuilder type. I would also appreciate advice on what tool to hire (type or model or brand etc.) and where to hire it from.

    My wife and I bought a house recently and as can be imagined are doing a number of house-related projects.

    Our biggest project right now is reducing the ground levels outside the house at the front as well as at the back to reduce the dampness issues that the house has (this was suggested in our building survey report).

    We recently discovered that both these areas have a thick layer (7-10 cm) of concrete. Till recently most of this concrete layer was hidden under a layer of soil, gravel or paving slabs. The extent of this concrete layer is much larger than we expected and doing it with normal tools (sledgehammer, mattock, chisel, rotary hammer in chisel mode etc.) will probably not work, will take too long and is quite tiring.

    We were thinking of either (a) hiring a concrete breaking tool and doing it ourselves (b) hiring people to do it.

    (a) is the preferred option since it will cost significantly less.

    However I am worried that if I hire an electric concrete breaking tool it will take me too long to do it because I have never used such a tool before. I am new to DIY and have never undertaken a major demolition/construction project before.

    What do you think?

    Thank you.
     
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  3. masona

    masona

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    Stop worrying, it's a lot easier than you think with the right tool, the downside the concrete breaker can be a little heavy but acceptable to work with, your best bet to pop down to the tools hire shop and ask which is suitable for the job and try handling and feel the breaker gun while you're there, the breaker gun have to be heavy to stop it bouncing about! I always find the tools hire shop very helpful
     
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  4. JohnD

    JohnD

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    once you've made the first hole, breaking round the edges to get more bits out gets much easier, even with a big hammer.

    You will need eye and ear protection, gloves, thick trousers. It will be quite tiring barrowing the bits to your skip, but you might find someone who will collect clean broken concrete to use as hardcore - put an ad on freegle.

    Don't forget the ear defenders.
    I said ear defenders.
    EAR DEFENDERS, WHAT'S THE MATTER, ARE YOU.... oh, sorry.

    it is still worth asking around for a price. A couple of strong lads used to the work will do it far faster, and have their own gear. Don't use anyone who has only a mobile phone and no address.
     
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  5. russellpeters

    russellpeters

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    Dear Masona, JohnD - Many thanks for your helpful replies.

    I have asked around for quotes to get this done by others but all the quotes are in the £500-650 range (this includes the breaking as well as clearing the site). This is a major dent in our budget for the garden renovation project.

    From your replies I am feeling more confident that if I hire the right equipment (including the safety gear) and plan for enough days to do this I will probably do fine.

    Is there any particular tool hire shop you recommend?

    I will get back with an update in 2-3 weeks time once the job is done.
     
  6. r896neo

    r896neo

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    Breaking up concrete is much faster by simply using a pick-axe/ large steel levering bar and a heavy sledge hammer.

    The secret is to try and lift the edge of the concrete just a fraction and then hit it. Doing this it form large cracks and breaks into medium sized chunks whereas a breaker often pulverises it into quite small bits

    A breaker will be much easier work but slower. If you swing a heavy sledge all day having not used those muscles in the middle of your back you will be pretty sore the next day.
     
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  7. kingandy2nd

    kingandy2nd

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    Agree the breaking wil be a relatively easy job - I've done something similar in an 7 x 9 m yard that was filled with concrete

    Where the hassle comes is if you don't have easy access to transport the broken material to where you skip is cited.

    Given that a skip is going to cost a couple of hundred quid at least, and a breaker is going to be £60 ish, £30 for a wheelbarrow (if you don't have one) then £500 might not be too bad if you've got to cart the waste a long way.
     
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  8. russellpeters

    russellpeters

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    I tried doing this but progress was very slow and not all that satisfactory. I suspect this was because a lot of this concrete is in the side return area (of a Victorian terraced house) and therefore probably strengthened by its proximity and bonding to the nearby walls. I will, however, try once more in 1-2 days. I will try to use wooden wedges or small flat pieces of stone to slightly prop the concrete layer up and then go the sledge hammer route. Will post updates soon.
     
  9. russellpeters

    russellpeters

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    Aha! The quotes do not include the price of a skip. I have arranged for a skip myself because breaking the concrete is just one step of my garden re-landscaping project. I am happy to pay around £200-300 for this job but anything higher seems too high to me (and is anyways outside my budget).

    Carrying the rubble to the skip is also a headache in my home because the narrow corridor will not allow even a small wheelbarrow to pass through. The distance from the back garden to the front is in itself not too long because it is a usual London Victorian house so not too large. I plan to use a sack truck to carry sacks filled with rubble. Less efficient and quite annoying but unfortunately I could not come up with any other solution.
     
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  11. kingandy2nd

    kingandy2nd

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    Can you fit a 75 litre Gorilla tub down the alley?

    If so, you can then fill the tubs easily, wheel them down the alley on a skateboard or a bit of ply with some suitable castors attached (so less effort to move), and the tubs are also easy to lift over the side of the skip and emptied quickly.

    Otherwise you end up faffing around to fill the sacks at one end, then faff some more to empty them at the other end – or you go through a lot of sacks if you just chuck them in the skip.

    Get two or three tubs so you can work like a chain gain – one person fills, another moves, another empties.
     
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  12. russellpeters

    russellpeters

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    This is such a great idea!

    I already have a smaller tub that I used when clearing out the loft/attic. Yes, I am going to get 2-3 of the largest ones and then use a wheeled platform (skateboard or small flat trolley or something similar) to take them outside.

    Many thanks for this cool suggestion.
     
  13. kingandy2nd

    kingandy2nd

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    No problem, happy to help.

    My suggestion would be to buy ‘proper’ gorilla tubs rather than the cheaper poundland equivalent as the official ones are much stronger. I still my two now, after moving a few tonnes of concrete and soil in them.

    When I did my yard I had two gorilla tubs which I filled and then had to wheel about 100 yards in my wheel barrow to get to the skip. This was because we had no direct access to the street so I had to take the barrow down the alleyway at the rear of the property, then through to the street and then back along the same distance to the front of my house where the skip was placed.

    It took me all day to do my job, by the end of which I had some serious blisters! I’m sure you’ll know that you need some steel toe-caps if you’re using a breaker and shifting heavy lumps of concrete – but two pairs of socks would be my other suggestion for you.

    Best of luck with your landscaping.
     
  14. russellpeters

    russellpeters

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    Yes! All safety equipment is either already bought or ordered - appropriate boots, hard hat (probably not needed for this activity but I need it for something else), ear defenders, goggles, thick clothing and full-sleeve jacket, builder/rigger gloves and breathing mask.
     
  15. WabbitPoo

    WabbitPoo

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    OP - now you know why it would cost quite a bit to get someone else to do it!
     
  16. r896neo

    r896neo

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    yes for the sledgehammer technique to work it needs to be a free edge. The simplist way to do this is to make 2 cuts about 2 inches apart right down through the concrete. Then break this channel out. You make these cuts in the middle and then it gives you breathing space for the concrete to spread into as it is fractured.

    You need a stihl saw for this though.
     
  17. ivixor

    ivixor

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    Been doing some concrete breaking today, with a hired makita 32kg breaker. It is rather heavy but does do the job! It's not particularly tiring once you get into the rhythm of things, and are careful not to lift it anymore than absolutely necessary. Breaks 30cm thick concrete no trouble.

    I wouldn't recommend doing it by hand because of the damage it can cause to your joints from the impact shocks. Not worth it.
     
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