If your next demolition project requires some extra grunt, a jackhammer could be just what you need. Whether you’re chiselling bathroom tiles or breaking down concrete slabs, this heavy-duty tool packs a punch and comes in a range of sizes and types to suit all tasks.
Here are some jackhammer basics to help get you started with your hire.
Depending on their size jackhammers can be powered by electricity, petrol, hydraulics or compressed air. Jackhammers work by powering an internal hammer that repeatedly connects with an external chisel. This chisel can be fitted with different tips and tools to suit the type of material you’re breaking down.
Also called demolition hammers, jackhammers are rated by their weight – which determines the amount of force behind the strike they can deliver. The higher a jackhammer’s rating, the more forceful its impact will be.
Smaller jackhammers (2-6kgs) are useful for small chiselling tasks – like removing tiles from walls and other fiddly jobs. Relatively lightweight, they are also particularly useful for demolition work that requires equipment to be lifted up.
Brick is no match for a medium rated jackhammer (15-20kgs. More robust mid-range jackhammers are great for preparing to lay pipe and breaking bricks, clay and concrete up to 100mm.
Heavy-duty pneumatic jackhammers (30kgs+) are used widely in construction for jobs like breaking up concrete footings around fence posts; demolishing roads and pavements, and for breaking down boulders and large concrete slabs.
There are some important safety considerations when using jackhammers:
Protecting your ears
Did you know that pneumatic jackhammers can produce a staggering 110 decibels (dB) of noise? That’s only marginally less than a jet taking off 25m away, or a gun going off. Given any noise greater than 85dB is considered “loud”, it’s important to prevent hearing damage by wearing noise cancelling ear protection and avoiding extended jackhammer use.
Protecting your eyes
When hard surfaces are demolished dust and debris can fly into the air. To prevent eye injury always wear face protection and appropriate impact-rated eye protection.
Store cords/cables for an electric jackhammer over your shoulder to avoid accidental strikes.
Reducing body stressing
Over use (or unsafe use) of jackhammers can lead to injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome and other musculoskeletal illness. To reduce the physical impact of jackhammers:
Encourage regular breaks and rotate workers to avoid extended use. Your jackhammer can go all day long – your operators cannot.
Use a jackhammer trolley for greater comfort, reduced strain and fatigue during use and when moving jackhammers around site.
To prevent back injuries bend at the knees (not the waist) and use your legs to carry the weight of larger jackhammers.
Low vibration jackhammers and anti-vibration gloves can reduce the impact on your body. Ergonomically designed handles and soft rubberised grips can provide further cushioning.
For maximum efficiency use the right tip and attachments for your task.
Positioning the jackhammer at a slight angle (leaning in towards you) will improve control and reduce the likelihood of the tip getting stuck.
Whenever possible, face away from windows and glass or lay a plastic sheet over your work area to prevent damage from flying debris.
Jackhammers are designed to break up the surface they come into contact with. To isolate a jackhammer’s impact, first make some boundary cuts using a demolition saw.
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