How to Test Concrete Using a Schmidt Hammer

Written by jane humphries
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How to Test Concrete Using a Schmidt Hammer
A Schmidt hammer measures the strength of concrete. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Using a Schmidt hammer is an effective method to determine the surface strength of concrete during the curing process. The nondestructive rebound method provides you with the ability to know whether the concrete strength is variable or consistent over your construction project. In this regard, the Schmidt hammer test acts as a precursor to determining if your concrete is ready for further load, such as in the construction of foundations, or if you have problems in concrete quality in specific areas of your build. The testing principles and mechanics of the rebound hammer date back to Ernst Schmidt's hammer design in 1948.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Concrete
  • Carborundum stone

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  1. 1

    Select an area of concrete to test. Test 10 times in one area with a minimum distance of 1 inch between each test site, as recommended by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

  2. 2

    Remove surface lumps of concrete with a carborundum stone to provide a consistent surface across the test area. Press the flat end of the plunger rod on the Schmidt hammer onto a solid surface so that the rod unlocks and extends.

  3. 3

    Position the flat end of the plunger rod onto your first test site at a 90-degree angle to the concrete. Hold the barrel of the Schmidt hammer and push the barrel forward slowly using a smooth action. Maintain a strong grasp on the barrel as the plunger rod reaches full resistance on the concrete and triggers the rebound measurement.

  4. 4

    Lock the rebound button into position on the side of the Schmidt hammer. Write down the number showing on the indicator in order to note the rebound number or "R-value." Reset the plunger rod as you did previously in Step 2.

  5. 5

    Conduct a further nine tests within your concrete test area, making a note of each R-value. Add up the 10 R-values and divide the result by 10 to calculate the average R-value for the test site. Reject any single R-value if it is not within six whole numbers of the average and work out the resulting average using the R-values that remain.

  6. 6

    Continue to use the Schmidt hammer to test further concrete areas by repeating Steps 1 to 5. Use the Schmidt hammer manufacturer's correlation graph to compare your average R-value for each test area to gain the expected compression strength of the concrete.

Tips and warnings

  • Redo the 10 tests if you have less than 8 R-values within six whole numbers of the average, in order to ensure a valid result.
  • To calculate an average, add the single R-values together, then divide the result by the number of R-values. For example, 8 R-values of 48, 48, 49, 50, 50, 51, 52, 52, makes 400 in total and you then divide by 8 to get the average R-value of 50.
  • Do not solely rely upon the correlation graph to determine 100-percent accuracy of the compression strength of your concrete because the manufacturer's test concrete differs from yours.

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