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Old 10-08-2008, 04:48 PM   #1
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Can 1 chick demo a sidewalk with sledgehammer


I have a small concrete sidewalk from the driveway to the front porch I want to replace with large stone squares set in sand. The concrete is cracked where it's attached to the porch & driveway. I'm told it wasn't done properly. I'm 5'6", 125 pounds, & in really good health. Someone told me they'd bust the concrete for $100, not including hauling fees. If I try a DIY project what kind of sledge hammer do I get, & are there other women out there who've attempted this ? Thanks ...

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Old 10-08-2008, 05:23 PM   #2
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Can 1 chick demo a sidewalk with sledgehammer


If its 4" thick or less I'd say go for it. Start near an edge. It may take a few wacks before something finally starts breaking but once it gets going you'll develop a feel for it and it will go pretty fast.
Don't waste time making the rubble to small. Break off as big a piece as you can handle and use a crow bar or pry bar to pry it out so you don't waste time breaking concrete needlessly. Take big swings and really accelerate down through the slab. Protect nearby windows from flying debris.

I like a sledge with a wood handle rather than fiberglass because the fiberglass seems to vibrate more. As far as size, you should look at them and see what you think you can handle. Go as big as you can. Remember you lift it slow, easy and high - it's when you swing down that you accelerate it and put some effort into it so the added weight won't bother you as much as you think and will break the slab faster.

Do you know how you'll get rid of it? You can usually find a place that will take clean concrete rubble for free but the trick is getting it there. Concrete rubble can be hard on a truck bed and is very heavy so be careful.

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Old 10-08-2008, 07:09 PM   #3
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Can 1 chick demo a sidewalk with sledgehammer


forget the sledge hammer, go rent a jack hammer, they have electric ones that although not as. strong as air, will get the job done. If there is rebar in there, get your sawsall out, you're going to need it, or chip it away and just cut the wire. As for getting rid of the rubble, check ahead of time, not cheap anymore, I got rid of my front porch, concrete last week, $84 a ton, had to borrow a trailor to get it there. concrete adds up fast. Your call but plan out ahead of time before you take it up.
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Old 10-08-2008, 07:14 PM   #4
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Can 1 chick demo a sidewalk with sledgehammer


I have found that if I undermine the concrete by digging under it and then giving it a smack, its more likely to crack.
Have you considered where and how you will dispose of the rubble?
You may have to rent a jack hammer, if the sledge hammer doesn't work.
A hundred bucks seems reasonable to me, especially if it includes cleaning up.
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Old 10-08-2008, 07:26 PM   #5
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Can 1 chick demo a sidewalk with sledgehammer


SURE you can,,all your neighbors should come help within 5 - 10 minutes if they are good people. a 5 foot crow bar(steel post,wood post,longer the better OR anything similiar ) and pulling one side up and sticking a piece of rubble under it,,,so it is hollow,,,speeds the cracking 10 fold. It cracks real easy then. IF its 60-100 year old crete it usually cracks easy. SOME people will come pick up broken concrete for fill and various uses,,you MIGHT try give away ads on Craigs list,other newspapers etc.. Dont spend any money doing ads BUT if you fnd the right person,problem solved!! Also people who live along rivers,streams and lakes, NEED broken crete for rip rap!! Bribery of macho dudes you know or work with,,,with the promise of a real deal meal and BEER etc. sometimes solves this manpower dilemia also!!

Now take your pick,hollow the crete 'somehow', and go have fun!!! OOPS, almost forgot,sure you dont need a retaining wall/flower garden planter someplace??
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Old 10-08-2008, 07:33 PM   #6
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Can 1 chick demo a sidewalk with sledgehammer


If the dirt under the slab is soft, dig a bit to undermine part of the slab. That way, the full force of the hammer blow will be on the slab, and it'll break easier, and in larger pieces. If you just beat on it, the dirt below will absorb a lot of the hammer blow.

Make sure you wear some sort of eye protection. Small bits of concrete will go flying in every direction, at amazingly high speed. It seems to seek out eyeballs.

If you use a jackhammer, you'll 'feel' the vibration in your hands and arms long after the job is done. An electric one will be quite heavy, and the bit tends to get stuck in the slab it you hammer in one spot too long. Use hearing protection and eye protection with a jackhammer. I'm 51, and can't hear very good at all, mainly because I didn't protect my hearing while I was younger. (And dumber!!).

If you're going to chip it out with a sledge, get friendly with someone who has a hot tub first......the back of your legs and your abs are going to be rather sore for a while! Be careful when near the house, the arc of the swing will be about 8" to a foot further away from you than where the hammer actually hits the slab. It's east to ding the siding, and it'll really hurt your hands. I doubt that your hands are as calloused as mine, gloves would be a good idea.

Rob

P.S. A 6 or 8 LB. sledge should fit you pretty good, and it's heavy enough to get the job done.
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Old 10-08-2008, 07:55 PM   #7
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Can 1 chick demo a sidewalk with sledgehammer


You go girl!!! Get that sledge and swing away. Get some gloves or you will end up with hands that look like feet.

A breaker bar is nice but if you spend the money to get a sledge and a breaker bar you would be a third of the way to paying the $100.

But the upside you will appreciate just how hard concrete is and appreciate those that work really hard for a living.

Some secret clues for breaking cement. Look for hairline cracks in the concrete and use those as the place to hit. They will break much easier at these points. When you work hard it pays to also work smart.

We want to see some pictures of you smashing it to bits....

My wife, niece and I busted up about 40 sg ft of 6 inch concrete that was 70 years old (concrete gets harder as it get older). My niece is an animal with that sledge.
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Old 10-08-2008, 08:22 PM   #8
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I couldn't believe that people answered so quickly, & the advice is totally understandable, & makes me feel as if I can do it. Guess I'll go out Saturday, armed with a sledge hammer or jack hammer, & crow bar (& cooler of beer, in case any neighbors lend a hand). It's pretty hot here in Florida (just moved from Michigan), so I may have to wait for a cool day. But with all this advice I'm feeling like driving right down to Home Depot & picking up the tools. Oh, another question: does all concrete have iron in it, because I'm planning on using it to edge some gardens, & iron rods aren't in the plan. So THANKS everyone, for sharing your expertise in chopping up concrete. Just hope that "girly girl" doesn't become "burly girl," with all the hard physical labor that lies ahead!
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Old 10-08-2008, 08:56 PM   #9
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Can 1 chick demo a sidewalk with sledgehammer


Most concrete will have rebar (reinforcing rod) in it, or will have welded wire mesh, which is 1/8" wires in a 6" grid. No way to know what you have until you take a couple swings with that sledge. My suggestion for cutting rebar would be to use an angle grinder (you can rent a small one) with metal cutting disks. Buy a handful of disks. I don't recommend a sawzall for cutting rebar because you'll go through a lot of expensive blades...And if you're renting it anyway then why not rent the grinder.
If you have welded wire mesh you can cut it easily with bolt cutters or use the grinder.

Suggestion:
Set the beer within view of the neighbors, grunt loudly on each swing, and generally make yourself appear miserable (which might be easy to do because breaking concrete sucks). Perhaps they'll be more inclined to lend a hand!
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Old 10-08-2008, 09:04 PM   #10
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Can 1 chick demo a sidewalk with sledgehammer


Quote:
Originally Posted by Annaliese View Post
I couldn't believe that people answered so quickly, & the advice is totally understandable, & makes me feel as if I can do it. Guess I'll go out Saturday, armed with a sledge hammer or jack hammer, & crow bar (& cooler of beer, in case any neighbors lend a hand). It's pretty hot here in Florida (just moved from Michigan), so I may have to wait for a cool day. But with all this advice I'm feeling like driving right down to Home Depot & picking up the tools. Oh, another question: does all concrete have iron in it, because I'm planning on using it to edge some gardens, & iron rods aren't in the plan. So THANKS everyone, for sharing your expertise in chopping up concrete. Just hope that "girly girl" doesn't become "burly girl," with all the hard physical labor that lies ahead!
Not all concrete has rebar and what you are doing probably doesn't have any. In fact I would bet one of your beers on that.
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Old 10-08-2008, 09:08 PM   #11
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Can 1 chick demo a sidewalk with sledgehammer


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Originally Posted by thekctermite View Post
(which might be easy to do because breaking concrete sucks).
Yes it does.

I always find a way to put it off and I am real good and figuring a way to get others to do it for me.
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Old 10-08-2008, 09:41 PM   #12
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Can 1 chick demo a sidewalk with sledgehammer


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Most concrete will have rebar (reinforcing rod) in it, or will have welded wire mesh, which is 1/8" wires in a 6" grid.
Is this code in KC? I have done a lot of concrete driveways, sidewalks and slabs and hardly ever put in rebar or mesh. We do use fiber sometimes but not often.

We have to rebar foundations and additions to existing slabs (tie it in with rebar into the existing slab).

I suspect it is related to the cold weather (maybe)?

Just curious.
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Old 10-08-2008, 10:53 PM   #13
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Can 1 chick demo a sidewalk with sledgehammer


A lot of good advice. I doubt that this concrete has any rebar in it, but you'll know shortly. I live in Tampa, so I am well aware of the heat factor. Just be sure and pace yourself. I am an amateur archaeologist, and have had to use a sledge on a lot of foundations over the years to get to the artifacts, and looking for small cracks (weakness) really helps a lot.

I knew a girl years ago that had some labor intensive work that was needed, so when she went out into the front yard to start the job, she wore a bathing suit. All the guys in the neighborhood were tripper over themselves to get over there to help! No, I am not suggesting this, but thought it a funny story to relate.
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Old 10-08-2008, 11:21 PM   #14
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Is this code in KC? I have done a lot of concrete driveways, sidewalks and slabs and hardly ever put in rebar or mesh. We do use fiber sometimes but not often.
The only thing around here that doesn't get rebar or WWF in it 100% of the time is basement slabs placed on undisturbed soil, and the better flatworkers put it in anyway. It isn't a code per-se, but nearly every municipality I can think of requires it for right-of-way sidewalks, curbs, and drive aprons. Some cities require it for drives, some don't. With our freeze-thaw cycles and our expansive clay soils, it is generally considered taboo to place concrete without some sort of reinforcement.

If we're betting beers, I'll bet one that she'll find some bar or WWF in there. We'll hope I'm wrong!
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Old 10-09-2008, 12:58 AM   #15
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Can 1 chick demo a sidewalk with sledgehammer


I have a 20# rock hammer with a pipe handle,if you come get it,,,not enough room on it for THAT many stamps to send it. Your a real go-getter if you can swing that over your head,,for an hour!!!

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