Break my barn floor
March 13, 2014 5:37 PM   Subscribe

I bought a farm. I have an outbuilding with a concrete floor. I want to make it into a barn so I need the concrete gone and 4-5 inches of crushed stone so animal waste accumulates not. But this is the mother of all concrete. I tried an electric jackhammer and it was 4 hours before I dented six square feet to a depth of two inches. Now I have a Skid Steer with a hydraulic breaker. I'm down 6-8 inches and no sign of dirt. I'm hitting lattices of rebar and layers of gravel. The breaker is just making holes and there are no cracks radiating from the properly spaced holes. There is no justification for this level of reinforcement. I can't get through it. This was meant to support planets. Help!
posted by Mr. Yuck to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
You're going to need a concrete saw. Maybe even one that mounts on a Bobcat.
posted by notsnot at 6:34 PM on March 13, 2014

Do you want the entire floor gone or can you put down Stall Mats? They go over the concrete floor.
posted by Sassyfras at 6:54 PM on March 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Can you just move the building away from the foundation? I can see innumerable reasons to keep a concrete floor around
posted by mearls at 7:19 PM on March 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This is slightly off subject, but is it possible some enterprising soul built the barn over a bomb shelter?
posted by Jilder at 8:05 PM on March 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Hellmouth. Gotta be a hellmouth. Don't open it.

And y'all do realize that Mr. Yuck now has a really messed up floor. Something must be done.

It sounds very strange to me. Know anything about the previous owners? You can make concrete stronger than normal with admixtures or even crazy stuff like carbon fiber. Here's something about high strength concrete. Engineered concrete. Was the owner a mason or chemist? Have you looked for the door to the underground vault? Jimmy Hoffa? Here's some alternatives to mechanical breaking of concrete.
posted by amanda at 8:29 PM on March 13, 2014 [4 favorites]

Um, have you considered that a concrete floor might be your best bet? If by "barn" you mean "livestock housing," you can scrape it clean if it's concrete. What are your plans for getting poop out of a bunch of gravel? If you practice deep bedding, scraping the barn out is going to be a once-a-year chore made easier by all of that sweet, sweet concrete. If you go with the no-bedding, frequent cleaning method, it's still going to be easier to clean off concrete than gravel.

One of our barns has a concrete floor and it is a dream to deal with compared to our barns with dirt floors. And every time my conservation district agent is out she asks us to put more animals on the concrete for the winter (and to put them on pasture all summer!) so that we can collect and manage the "nutrient" load which we can't do on a permeable surface.
posted by stet at 8:32 PM on March 13, 2014 [13 favorites]

Best answer: You know you could probably contact a nearby concrete/masonry company and ask them to test the psi of your concrete. Or just let them know what you're dealing with and see what their thoughts are about removal/breaking it up. If the removal process is too onerous, perhaps you can fill it in again and figure out a way to use it as-is.
posted by amanda at 8:35 PM on March 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Removing a good concrete floor because you have the idea that animal waste needs to be on dirt is insanity. Really. I grew up on a farm and still raise animals, concrete is exactly what you want for a barn floor. Right now my ducks and geese are in a dirt floored building at night, and the waste definitely accumulates, its just harder to remove.
posted by 445supermag at 9:04 PM on March 13, 2014 [7 favorites]

Hmmmm are there posts resting on the slab holding up the ceiling? Because the slab might be kinda important for that.

And yeah, just leave the concrete and put stall mats and bedding. It's not ideal for their legs but unless your animals are going to be in there 20 hours a day they'll be fine.
posted by fshgrl at 10:12 PM on March 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

I want to make it into a barn so I need the concrete gone and 4-5 inches of crushed stone so animal waste accumulates not.

Madness. Don't you mean "I need to keep this amazingly durable concrete floor so that animal waste doesn't accumulate in 4-5 inches of crushed stone"?
posted by valkyryn at 3:56 AM on March 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

It is not uncommon for the concrete floor to be part of the structural design of a barn. And generally, the thicker the concrete, the more likely this is the case. Make sure you know what you are doing before you rip that floor out.

That said, if you want to get the concrete out, start by drilling holes in it. You will need a good hammer drill and a big concrete bit. You can rent them from the orange box hardware store. If you still need to loosen it up after that, then rent a concrete saw, and cut a few lines in it. Once this is done, the jack hammer will work much better.
posted by Flood at 5:37 AM on March 14, 2014

Response by poster: I didn't want to mention this at first and derail the advice, but neighbors say the guy who built this place in 1958 owned a stone service, molested children and built a baseball field towards the front of the property so the Little League kids would have somewhere to practice. He's dead and got away with his crimes, but finding remains is something I am thinking about. People didn't report that kind of thing back then and I am meeting with the police today or Monday.

1958 could also mean a bomb shelter- I just don't know yet. There is one side where I could go at the foundation to look for an entrance.

I did saw around the interior edges of the building so that the cracking would not spread to the parts of the foundation that support the vertical beams.

The animals in question are Alpacas. They poop in specific spots and it is easy to clean up. The terrain is such that flushing the crushed stone of urine would be easy.

I'll update when I know something.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 9:44 AM on March 14, 2014

I know they are not Alpacas, but in have goats (and others elsewhere) in our barn now. The area they are in is several inches of gravel. It better on their legs than concrete, but every time we clean the barn, we wish it was concrete.

It is an interesting dilemma.
* Gravel = Better for their legs and better urine pass through
* Concrete = MUCH easier to clean with the bucket on the bobcat, but hard on their legs and colder if they lay on it (even with top bedding).
* Concrete+Stall Mats = The best and worst of the above. Better on their legs than concrete, but any urine flows around and under the mats (smelling the place up) instead of flowing into the ground. The mats are heavy and a pain to move around when cleaning. When clean, it is hard to beat.

While I cannot offer advice on removing the concrete, I hope I gave you some useful information to work with.
posted by Leenie at 11:40 AM on March 14, 2014

Bedding methods are highly personal and specific to circumstance.

But I do wonder if it would be cheaper to move the structure. Serious professional help to remove a mass of good concrete is going to be expensive, and they aren't going to baby the structure like it's their own in the process. It might require equipment that won't fit through the door.

Someone with building-moving experience has the primary goal of keeping your structure intact, and it could go over a new foundation that you get to design.
posted by werkzeuger at 2:17 PM on March 14, 2014

Response by poster: We got through the concrete! No bodies or bomb shelters. Thanks everyone.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 10:00 AM on March 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

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