Use the right tools for removing cement to achieve professional results, work quickly and safely and save money. Each type of cement removal job, from cleaning cement stains on brickwork to removing large slabs of cement, requires a different tool. Using the wrong size or type of tool can damage the equipment and surrounding surfaces, leading to costly repairs.
Rotary Hammer Drill
Cement, the "glue" used to bind materials for construction work, often ends up in unwanted places, such as brickwork. Rotary hammers are medium-size power tools with a variety of bits, driven by electricity. Inside the tool, a gear-driven crank drives a piston to create pressure that repeatedly pushes the tip against the working surface. The tool takes 30 seconds to drill 4-inch deep holes of 3/4-inch diameter in 3000 PSI concrete. These tools are commonly available for rental and are purchased from specialist tool suppliers. David Crosby of finehomebuilding.com recommends a rotary hammer in the 1- to 1 ¼-inch range for chipping off small amounts of cement from brickwork. To use a rotary hammer drill for removing small amounts of concrete from brick walls, first put on safety glasses to avoid eye damage from flying fragments and dust. Fit a chisel bit into the drill, switch the drill to a "hammer only" setting, plug in and switch on when safely braced in your working position.
A needle gun, also known as a needle scaler, is a small, noisy, one-handed compressed air tool used to remove unwanted materials from metal surfaces (e.g. ship hulls). It's effective for home use to remove concrete from items like metal fixtures, like poles for children's swings and barbecue stands, or rotary clothesline holders, embedded in concrete slabs. Advantages of a needle gun include the ability to work in tight spaces because it is much smaller than most power tools. Needle guns are driven by compressed air, which drives individual needles up and down against the working surface, dislodging cement. Always operate a needle gun using both ear and eye protection; tough, anti-vibration gloves protect the operator's hands from cuts by flying chips and fatigue.
A jack hammer is a large tool, also known as a percussive drill, driven by gas and used to quickly break up cement slabs for removal. Jack hammers use compressed air to drive a piston against a large drill bit which digs easily in cement. Choose the size and weight of a jack hammer based on the depth of any cement you are working on; slabs are a few inches or several feet in depth. Jack hammers are available for rental by the day or hour; always check that the accompanying drill bits are sharp, and request at least one spare bit when renting the tool. Safety gear, such as goggles, gloves, boots and tough clothing, are essential when operating a jack hammer.