15 Oct 2020

Concrete is quite a common building material for a vast range of projects, whether that is creating sidewalks or constructing a house from the ground-up. However, this also means that there is a lot of it lying around that needs to be removed, and that won’t necessarily be an easy task if you aren’t properly prepared. How do you handle the removal of concrete, and what sort of options do you have for disposing of it?

Removing Concrete

Before you can throw it away, you need to remove concrete from wherever it has been placed. For this example, we will use a standard concrete slab, like the kind of concrete slabs that get used as paving for quite a variety of locations and structures.

Removing concrete works best if you can create a void underneath the concrete slabs you want to take away. Removal of the surface underneath, regardless of whether it is sand, dirt, or something else, can force the concrete to absorb all of the force rather than redirecting it into the flooring. Once you have the concrete slab exposed and have managed to dig underneath the surface to weaken it, you need to break it up. A bash with a sledgehammer can be enough to make it crack and eventually split apart in many cases.

If you have made cracks but don’t want to send concrete chunks scattering over the floor, you can also use a pry bar to get more leverage, as well as creating even more of a void underneath if you haven’t already. Eventually, you should be able to lift the concrete out of place piece by piece. Existing cracks can be an excellent place to start, since these might already be weak and can be pried open to create bigger gaps that separate the individual pieces of concrete.

Watch out for reinforced concrete or wire mesh, both of which can make it much harder to break open. You can cut wire mesh, but reinforced concrete often requires power tools or professional assistance to break up.

Eventually, you should have turned the concrete into much smaller parts, allowing you to pick it up piece by piece and take it away to dispose of it. If there are still areas of concrete that won’t move, they might be partially submerged still, so you should work on cracking them open or digging around the base to create that void again.

Disposing of Concrete

Now, there is the disposal. This can be the hardest part of the process: concrete removal is relatively straightforward, but concrete disposal can be much more difficult, especially if you only have limited options in your local area. Some places simply won’t allow concrete to be disposed of in certain ways, for example. Knowing what each removal company will have as limits or what removal disposal fees you might have to pay can be an important part of planning the whole project, especially when you need the concrete gone by a certain date.

Hire a Removal Company

One of the most basic ways to remove concrete from your property is through a removal company. Whether you are right in the middle of Washington DC or out in a rural area without many large businesses, there will always be somebody willing to do the job of hauling your concrete away to dispose of it. This concrete removing method has the benefit of letting the heavy lifting be done for you, although they might need to make multiple trips if your project has created a lot of waste concrete to deal with.

Not all removal companies will charge the same disposal fees, and some might only operate within a certain set of ZIP code areas. Others might refuse to take reinforced concrete, or make you pay more for having specialized reinforced concrete removed from the premises. Removal services like this are a mixed bag when dealing with concrete, but all have the main upside of putting the delivery and disposal in the hands of another party, rather than forcing you to do the job yourself.

Remember that most removal companies like this are going to have their own rules and restrictions that might not be used by every other company, meaning that the exact way they do their job can be different even if they share the same ZIP code as another similar company. Be sure to research them ahead of time, just in case there is anything important you should be aware of relating to their concrete disposal methods or limitations.

Dumpster Rental

Renting a dumpster can be a very efficient option for handling removal and material disposal. As long as you get a dumpster of a decent size, you can use it to dispose of almost any trash and junk, not just concrete. You will have to load your own materials, but dumpster rental can be invaluable for larger construction projects where there might be hundreds of bricks, pieces of reinforced concrete, old wooden beams, and even glass that has to be thrown away.

What makes dumpsters so good as a way to remove concrete is the simplicity of the system. You rent a dumpster, it gets delivered, and then you can just start loading everything inside at your own pace. Once the pre-agreed rental period is up, the company comes back to collect the full dumpster, disposing of anything inside even if you are not home to see them collect it.

Dumpsters can also be great for complete slabs, such as parts of an old concrete patio. The only thing to worry about is weight: the more concrete patio slabs you add, the more weight you add to the dumpster. In many cases, there are going to be weight limits on the dumpster, and removing a concrete patio in a large volume can quickly add up to extra fees if you keep throwing concrete into the dumpster without knowing how much it weighs.

Dump It Yourself

If all else fails, you can handle concrete removal by just driving it out to a dump in the back of your vehicle. Concrete might be heavy, but it can still often fit into a pickup truck quite easily, letting you take quite a large amount of concrete to a disposal area with each trip. While you have to do it yourself, it also lets you work at your own pace, there is no time restrictions to the removal. Concrete simply gets disposed of whenever you have free time.

This can also cut down on the project cost since you aren’t paying for the removal, concrete pickup, or any other parts of the job. This saves money for the rest of the project, allowing you to make concrete removal much cheaper.

This also skips all of the ‘all rights reserved’ systems or limitations that other companies might put on the concrete removal project, allowing you to decide precisely how it is handled. If you are sick of needing to follow the rules that companies put on your concrete removal, concrete dumping means that the only rules followed or all rights reserved are your own, and you can do it in whatever way you need to.

Selling Concrete

Another way of keeping your project budget low is to make concrete removal into a profitable project. You can remove concrete from the area and make money if you are able to sell any of the complete concrete slabs you still have, and many people will even buy pre-used slabs as long as they aren’t damaged. A pry bar and some careful digging can occasionally let you remove concrete patio slabs from the ground, and after getting enough, you can easily sell them on.

You won’t get all that much for used concrete, but it is still a form of concrete removal, and all it takes is a pry bar or some similar tool. If you sell to people in your ZIP code, you might not even have to spend money on fuel – you can technically turn a profit and add that money to your project budget. If you have limited money to work with, this is a good concrete removal option for almost any project or situation.

Keep in mind that sales aren’t guaranteed: concrete removal won’t always lead to a sale, so you might eventually need to dispose of the concrete normally if you want to focus on the project instead.

Which is best?

There isn’t a single best option when it comes to concrete removal: it depends on the type of concrete, the difficulty of the concrete removal itself, and the overall urgency of your project. The type of concrete you are dealing with, as well as the amount of concrete that needs to be removed, can also be a problem. Add on the fact that not all services might operate in your ZIP code or area, and you can see why it is a hassle sometimes.

If you still need to remove concrete, focus on what is immediately available: companies in your area, people you can sell the concrete to in your ZIP code, or even another construction project that might take the concrete slabs as a donation. After a certain point, it is worth simply trying to dump the concrete so that you can get back to the project at hand, rather than holding out for a better concrete disposal option that might never come.

Either way, as long as you can get the concrete out of your property and dispose of it in a safe, reliable way, you will usually have no problems with getting back to work on the more important parts of your construction or renovation project.