Hydrodemolition 101 – Wash and Learn

hydrodemolition aquajet aqua cutter concrete removal


Acid rain, road salt and normal wear and tear wreak havoc on concrete over time, resulting in a need to remove the deteriorated concrete and create a suitable surface to which new concrete will easily adhere.

Traditional methods of removing old concrete can require hours of manual labor using handheld water jetting equipment or handheld pneumatic tools. To reduce injuries and increase efficiency, contractors are increasingly turning to remote-controlled technology, such as robotic hydrodemolition machines, to handle these concrete rehabilitation jobs.

Thanks to its unique properties, contractors find major advantages of hydrodemolition over traditional methods. Here are six:

1. Superior bonding.
The hydrodemolition process leaves a rough, irregular surface after removing the initial layer. This “craggy” profile is proven to provide better bonding strength than surfaces prepared by handheld pneumatic tools.

2. Increased productivity.
A high-pressure water jet removes concrete by widening existing pores and micro cracks in the weakened structure. This process tends to be more efficient than mechanical methods, allowing the user to complete jobs more quickly—and up to 25 times faster than with hand lances.

3. Less labor and more safety.
Hydrodemolition units require less labor and cause fewer injuries than other methods, such as chipping hammers and handheld water jetting equipment.

4. No rebar damage.
The downside of handheld pneumatic tools and milling machines is they leave rebar damaged and susceptible to rusting. Hydrodemolition is impact-free — avoiding vibrations that loosen rebar and cause microfractures — to maintain substrate integrity. The hydrodemolition process actually cleans and descales rebar, even directly underneath, and virtually eliminates ‘shadowing’.

5. Extended structure lifespan.
Surfaces that have been mechanically chiseled typically need repairs in 7 to 12 years, while hydrodemolitioned surfaces can last 21 to 35 years — about three times as long.

6. Less interference.
Hydrodemolition is quieter and causes less vibration than traditional demolition methods. And because it can get the job done faster, Hydrodemolition minimizes the traffic disruptions in communities that rely on these structures.


To learn more about hydrodemolition, contact an Aquajet expert or review our online crash course.