List of tools to break up concrete

Written by shane grey
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List of tools to break up concrete
Jack hammers pound concrete with chisel-like tips. (Getty Images)

Do-it-yourselfers often assume that breaking up concrete involves back-breaking labour and time-consuming methods. However, with a suitable set of demolition tools, breaking up concrete for demolition and renovations is clean and relatively quick. Construction and demolition professionals save time and effort during concrete removal by using heavy-duty saws to score concrete before pounding the slab with hammering tools. An understanding of the tools used to break up concrete allows you to choose equipment that suits the size of your demolition project.

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Walk-behind concrete saw

Demolition professionals often saw concrete into manageable chunks before breaking it up. The walk-behind concrete saw is the most common tool for preparing large concrete slabs for demolition. The walk-behind concrete saw's internal combustion engine rotates an abrasive blade. The tool's operator lowers the blade into a concrete slab and pushes the wheel-mounted machine across the slab's surface with an attached, waist-high handle. Once scored into manageable portions, the individual blocks of concrete break easily and cleanly when pounded with hammering tools.

Cut-off saw

Equipped with an abrasive, masonry-cutting blade, the cut-off saw becomes a miniature version of the walk-behind concrete saw. Unlike the wheel-mounted walk-behind saw, the cut-off is semi-portable and usually managed with two hands. Similar to walk-behind saws, typical cut-off saws have gas-powered internal combustion engines. The cut-off saw offers a solution to scoring small concrete slabs, working in tight spaces or cutting vertical surfaces, such as concrete walls.

Sledge hammer

This classic, heavy-headed hammering tool is the traditional, manually operated method of breaking up concrete. If a slab is scored by a concrete saw, a sledge hammer can easily break the individual portions into pieces. Sledge hammers vary according to head weight and handle length. Sledge hammer head weights range from around 2.7 kg (6 pounds) to more than 6.8 kg (15 pounds). Sledge hammer handles generally range from 90 to 150 cm (3 to 5 feet); sledge tools with heads less than 90 cm (3 feet) long are often called mini-sledge hammers.

Jack hammer

Familiar in popular culture as a powerful pounding tool, the jack hammer rapidly reciprocates various chisel-like tips. Jack hammers are heavy and capable of breaking not only concrete, but also thick soil and natural stone. Hydraulic or pneumatic force commonly supplies the force required to reciprocate the tool's chisel-like attachment. Jack hammers are generally too heavy to lift and primarily used to pound floors. A variation of the jack hammer, called the demolition hammer, can be lifted to pound walls and elevated surfaces.

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