Breaking Up Concrete Walkway

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  #1  
Old 10-05-09, 10:22 AM
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Question Breaking Up Concrete Walkway

I have a 100% useless concrete walkway from my front door to the side yard (maybe a 3'x12' area). I am uncertain of the depth of the concrete slabs, but how thick does it have to be before you must get a jack-hammer to break it up? The wife and I are going to recapture the area for landscaping.
 
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  #2  
Old 10-05-09, 02:36 PM
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Originally Posted by MasonicAero View Post
I have a 100% useless concrete walkway from my front door to the side yard (maybe a 3'x12' area). I am uncertain of the depth of the concrete slabs, but how thick does it have to be before you must get a jack-hammer to break it up? The wife and I are going to recapture the area for landscaping.
Hello,

Likely its 4'' thick which is typical. You can check by digging at the edge of the walkway and look at the side of the concrete. If Its not reinforced (you will know right away); a sledge, dig bar or large crowbar, pick and shovel would do it.
If you can get a large crowbar or better yet a dig bar and a fulcrum of some sort to pry an edge up an set it on a (rock, brick,2x4, chunk of concrete etc.) one section at a time, you can break it up fairly easily with a 5 pounder into chunks you can carry. Once you get it off the ground, tap along the line you want it to break on a number of times and it will break on that line. You really don't have to kill yourself if you know what your doing..

Be careful when you get the crow bar under you. Don't leave the end of the bar under the concrete when you get something under it. Never put your fingers or hands under the concrete when you get it off the ground. If you have to work alone, use a 2X4 or something to kick under the slab when you get it up. Always use eye protection you only get two of them..

If all else fails rent a 60lbs electric hammer for 45 bucks and blow through it. 60 pounders easily fit in the trunk of a car, plug it in and go.
Beer 4U2
regards,
Smitty
 
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Old 10-05-09, 02:40 PM
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Family Handyman (the magazine) just had an article about this a while back...may want to see if its online yet..lots of good tips.
 
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Old 10-05-09, 04:18 PM
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I'd just try and see how hard it will be to brake first. Once had a customer wanted me to remove a concrete porch. I had a claw hammer in my hand at the time. I explained the cost would have to include the cost of rental equipment. After all I couldn't just break it up with a hammer. Just for emphasis smacked it with the claw hammer. Just stood there thinking a word not used in these forums as a 6" hole appeared and cracks ran everywhere.
 
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Old 10-06-09, 07:06 AM
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Well, as a new home buyer, I am slowly amassing my hardware and tool collection, so I'll probably go out and try sledging it first. I mean... who DOESN'T need a huge hammer...

I'm glad you mentioned what to expect of the price for an electric hammer, though. I thought it was a lot more expensive and cumbersome to transport than what you described. Federal employees get Monday off so maybe that will be a 'this-weekend' project to put in the flower beds (which is why these useless walkways need to go).
 
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Old 10-06-09, 07:20 AM
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Of course if you have a friend with a flat bed truck and a fork lift you can cut it into four foot long sections with a diamond saw and load and haul to the dump.
 
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Old 10-06-09, 09:03 AM
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Unfortunately, I'm new in the area (just graduated college and moved for a new job) so I don't know too many people. You'd think it wouldn't be hard to find a friend with a pick-up in rural Va.

Anyway, I'm going to stay away from getting too power-tool crazy. The new wife just recently started trusting me with a drill after seeing me do work all over the house. I think I'll hold off on scaring her with a diamond saw.
 
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Old 10-06-09, 09:23 AM
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Congrats on the new house and job!! Let us know how the project goes, it should be no problem with hand tools. Walkways like that, 99% of the time are unreinforced and 4'' or less thick.
 
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Old 11-10-09, 08:50 AM
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UPDATE:
Its been a month and I'm just not getting to it (I've been playing electrician for a month after work/weekends). I began busting it up with a sledge (dug underneith it to start the process). It is not breaking apart particularly easy, but I'm going to give it another shot this afternoon. Tomorrow is a federal holiday so if I don't have any more luck today, I'm going to rent a 60lb Electric Hammer and just zip through it.
 
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Old 11-10-09, 10:04 AM
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Last week I broke up a 30'X3'X4" walkway with nothing but a sledge, a pick and a wheelbarrow. It took a couple of days but only because I'm old, semi lazy and I bore easily. I'm sure some energetic young guy could have broken it all up in a few hours.

The concrete was not reinforced, but it was 25 years old and not cracked. I pried each section with the pick, stuffed a rock underneath and smacked it. HARD!!! I seldom had to hit it more than once or twice to get it to crack.

Don't forget your safety glasses. Also, I was wearing shorts and when I finished my legs looked like I had run through a briar patch from all the concrete shrapnel nicks.
 
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Old 11-10-09, 10:25 AM
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Tried to find the article I mentioned before. No joy....

To help with the flying chips put down a cheap beat up tarp..then smack it. Also easier than chasing concrete chunks all over the place.
 
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Old 11-10-09, 11:18 AM
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With regards to "prying" under the slab or digging it, do you guys have any suggestions? I tried getting the pick under it but it just won't budge. I am sure that one you get across the bredth of it once, its not as bad, but do you just have to muscle through it the first time until one end is freed? Again, this is a walkway and we are trying to break it from the main paved area infront of our home, then just get rid of the whole thing.


The grey area is what is going to be busted up and yellow is where the flowerbeds will be. Excuse the scale of the stoop because it's TERRIBLY out of proportion. I'm basically dividing and conquering right now in the middle of the path. this will allow me to make as clean a break as possible near the main path (white) and be more careful over by the side of the house (to the right). I have my own ways of making the cuts nice and straight towards the main path and house so I'm not concerned there. It's mainly just getting COMPLETELY throw the walkway in the middle that is hard... again, because it doesn't pull up off the ground (i.e., you have to dig under).

Good news is, after looking at the soil, I can tell it's good farming soil so I don't have to worry about sowing any commercial top-soil in (maybe just some fertilizer... but that's another forum).
 
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Old 11-10-09, 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Gunguy45 View Post
Tried to find the article I mentioned before. No joy....

To help with the flying chips put down a cheap beat up tarp..then smack it. Also easier than chasing concrete chunks all over the place.
I kinda' wish I had thought of that. But then I wouldn't have had all those wounds to show off. When I got done I looked at my safety glasses. There were probably a dozen deep scratches.

I'm sure I'll be able to find all those flying chunks in the spring when I mow my lawn.
 
  #14  
Old 11-10-09, 04:20 PM
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If you bought a 6 or 8 lb sledgehammer, that is part of the problem. For breaking up good concrete, you need something in the 12 to 20 pound range. It's more of a pain to lift it, but when it falls it does most of the work. In addition to the sledge, a breaker bar works well as a prying tool.
As to how to get the concrete out easier: after you crack a section, pry it loose and remove it. Then work outward from that point, always prying toward the hole you created when you removed the first chunk. After you get a little bit out, the rest should come more easily.
 
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Old 02-03-10, 06:37 AM
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Update

Through the usual newly married and new college grad delays (visiting home, having to still move things, other home projects that took priority like electrical and plumbing), I finally got outside the other day to work on the sidewalk. I got 9' of it done and the rest is loose from the house (i.e., with enough prodding, it can be lifted). What I saw as 4" on one side turned into metal matrix reinforced 5-6" concrete with pebble aggregate. Vicious. I have a gentlemen who can haul away the rubbish for me (he has to restore part of my property that at one point in time was a gravel parking lot) so he said he could yank it up and wouldn’t charge me extra for it. Therein lies the benefits of living in a “good ole country town”.

Thanks everyone for your help. Pecos, the 8# sledge was definitely a handicap and if I weren’t so stubborn and determined, I would have just said “screw it” and rented a 60# electric hammer, demolishing the walkway in minutes. I wish I had bought the larger hammer earlier!
 
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