Getting through a concrete floor is necessary to reach plumbing and electrical conduits or to install any utility or improvement under the floor. Your first idea may be to grab a sledgehammer and start pounding. This method, though, is backbreaking and probably futile: hammer all day and still see more concrete. A more precise, quick and labor-saving way is to use a concrete cutting machine to slice through the floor and reach the space underneath. Cutting a concrete floor, though, is not just a matter of plugging in the tool and having at it. Be prepared before getting started.
Before using any cutting or digging tool, be sure to find out what’s underneath the concrete, and locate everything. Use floor plans to find plumbing lines, electrical conduits and other pipes and cabling beneath the floor. Call utility specialists in to use their locator instruments to mark the locations of phone, power and water lines. Also, determine if the floor is rebar-reinforced or just concrete. Steel bars running through the concrete can cause problems with some concrete cutting machines.
Concrete-cutting machines are similar to big powerful circular saws. The blades are carbide-reinforced steel, and some use industrial diamond teeth to get through the hardened floor. This process generates a lot of heat and needs constant cooling. A water hose attached directly to the machine provides the necessary coolant throughout the cutting process. Water also dampens the tremendous amount of dust concrete cutting produces. Be sure to have a ready water supply and open drainage. Cutting a basement floor with no drain means being in inches of standing water after a few minutes of concrete cutting.
Using the Concrete Cutter
Once all the preliminary challenges are overcome, use the concrete cutter as you would a saw. First allow the cutting blade to burrow into the concrete, and then go with the blade direction either forward or backward to extend the cut. Allow the concrete cutter to cut at its own pace. Don’t go too fast and cause the blade to bind. Also, only use a concrete cutter in straight lines. Do not try to curve or bend the blade. Remove sections of the concrete in a crosshatch pattern with concrete in square or rectangular sections. Use a pry bar to lift the concrete sections after cutting. Cut small enough pieces to remove with two or four hands. Doing this will also aid in replacing the floor after you’re done, as you can use the concrete pieces again to reinstall the floor.
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