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Can Anyone Use A Concrete Breaker?

Concrete breakers are amongst the most efficient and reliable tools used to break up concrete surfaces for removal, but this term is used to cover a wide range of machines. Some concrete breakers come in the form of handheld jackhammers; others will be fitted to excavators. 

The requirements to operate each style differ quite a bit, so can anyone use a concrete breaker?

Anyone can use a handheld concrete breaker, though even the smallest of these tools can produce a tremendous amount of force, so it’s crucial that you wear protective equipment and keep the device upright during use. 

Hydraulic breakers fitted to excavators require the machine’s driver to be qualified, and in most cases, they’ll need a formal training certificate.

We’ve been operating as a professional landscaping company for over a decade, so we’ve had a fair bit of experience using both hydraulic and handheld breakers. Handheld models can handle most domestic jobs, like removing old driveways, paths or patios. So let’s take a look at how to use this style of concrete breaker safely! 

How To Use A Concrete Breaker

Choose the right size.

Your first step will be to choose the right size; there are 3 to choose from:

  • Small – 20-30lbs
  • Medium – 35-40lbs
  • Heavy-duty – 60lbs+

Small models generally have an eclectic motor and an L-shaped handle, meaning they can also be used for horizontal work. This size is usually used for concrete up to 5” thick. Medium models can be used on concrete thicker than 5”, whilst heavy-duty breakers will often use a powerful fuel-fed engine and can be used to break thick surfaces like pavements and roads.

Prep the breaker

If you’re using an electric model, you’ll need a suitable power source nearby; most electric breakers use a 230V supply. 

Fuel-fed breakers will need to be filled with their appropriate fuel, usually unleaded petrol or diesel. Pneumatic models will need to be attached to a portable air compressor.

You’ll also need to ensure the breaker is filled with a suitable lubricant, commonly SAE 15W/40 motor oil, and you’ll need to fit either a chisel or pointed drill bit to the piledriver.

Hold the tool upright.

Concrete breakers produce an awful lot of force when operating, so you must always hold the device upright and face the drill bit directly into the concrete surface below.

Most models will have a trigger on their handle; this can be used to engage the piledriver to begin hammering the drill bit into the concrete. If you begin to angle the tool accidentally, disengage the trigger and reposition the device vertically. 

Start from the edges.

Always work from the edges of the concrete surface and gradually move towards the centre. Once you’ve cracked off a chunk, move back around 2”-3” before repeating this process until the entire slab has been broken apart.

If you come across any stubborn sections which split but don’t fully break away, use a pry-bar to manually separate the chunks until you can fit a gloved hand into the crack, then simply pull the piece away.

Correct concrete disposal

Now the concrete surface has been broken apart, carefully remove the chunks from the area using a wheelbarrow or dolly. Always lift with your legs and hold the weight of each piece close to your chest to avoid injury. 

Concrete can either be disposed of at your local dump, collected by a concrete recycling company or broken up further to be used as a sub-base for your next paving project!

Always Apply Oil

It’s important that the machine is always lubricated to ensure that it runs correctly. If you are not sure which one you need, read this article on what oils do you use for concrete breakers as it will help you decide the correct brand for your model of breaker.

Concrete Breaker Safety Tips 

In order to prevent personal injury and operate your breaker safely you should always find out what is a concrete breaker before you start. Below there are a few precautions and tips to keep in mind as you work!

  • Always move the breaker by lifting with your legs.
  • Wear gloves and safety boots alongside face and ear protection
  • Check the lubricating oil level at least once every 2 hours
  • If the tool gets stuck, gently wiggle the device rather than pulling it free
  • Operate electric models with the cord over your shoulder
  • Wet the concrete surface to prevent dust inhalation 

Last Word

That’s that! Anyone can use a handheld concrete breaker, though qualified professionals must operate large hydraulic breakers. 

When using a jackhammer, remember to choose the most appropriately sized tool and consider whether an electric or fuel-fed model will be best.

Always wear protective equipment, position the tool vertically and lift the breaker using your legs, remembering to work inwards towards the centre of the concrete from each corner. With these steps in mind, you should be ready to use a concrete breaker safely!