How to Use a Concrete Vibrator

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As wet concrete churns in a concrete truck's agitator tank, tiny air bubbles form. When the wet concrete is poured into wall forms or flat forms and spread out, air voids can occur deep within the mixture. After the concrete dries, large air voids can ruin the aesthetic look of the concrete and reduce the item's structural integrity. Surface air bubbles can affect the surface appearance. There are two types of concrete vibrators to fix this problem: one is inserted into the concrete to remove deep bubbles (stinger) and the other is attached to a surface leveling device (screed).

Things You'll Need

  • Stinger vibrator
  • Screed vibrator
  • Screed board
  • Screws or nails
  • Safety goggles
  • Long pants
  • Rubber boots
  • Long-sleeve shirt

Using a Stinger Vibrator

  • Remove deep air pockets and voids in concrete walls with a stinger vibrator. This tool runs on electricity and resembles a large, very heavy lead pencil, hanging from the end of a strong electrical cord.

  • Stand on the top of the wall forms, bracing one leg on either side as soon as possible after the wet concrete is poured into the forms. A stinger vibrator works only when the concrete is still very wet.

  • Lower the stinger into the middle of the wet concrete and turn on the power button. The weight of the stinger, combined with the vibration, will allow it to sink quickly into the concrete. When the stinger reaches the bottom of the form, pull it back up smoothly.

  • Move approximately 1-foot down the wall and repeat the action. Each time the stinger sinks into the wet concrete, it will help the concrete particles to settle into a solid mass and encourage trapped air to rise up and out of the wet concrete.

Using a Screed Vibrator

  • Attach a screed vibrator to top center of a screed board. A screed board is necessary on flat pours, such as patios and driveways and will be slightly longer than the width of the forms. The screed vibrator will attach with screws or nails, which you will remove after the pour.

  • Level the wet concrete in the forms by shoveling or by the use of concrete rakes before positioning the screed with the attached vibrator at one end of the forms. Two workers, one to control each end of the screed board, are necessary. The cord of the vibrator should extend to one side where one of the screed board operators can turn it on and off.

  • Switch on the power to the screed and begin to slowly pull the screed board over the surface of the concrete. The vibration on the board will encourage larger particles of concrete to settle downward while excess air bubbles and water will rise to the surface. In addition, the vibration will quickly smooth the surface of the wet concrete.

  • Repeat the screeding process at least one more time to remove any high spots in the concrete that may exist after the initial screeding. If any low areas are evident, sprinkle a little wet concrete on those before the final screed.

  • Wait a few minutes before proceeding to the next step in finishing concrete, the "floating" process. Because a screed vibrator draws water to the surface, let some of the water reabsorb into the concrete or evaporate before floating. This usually takes only a few minutes.

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References

  • John Taylor, owner: Taylor Construction, McPherson, KS
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