Techniques for How to Remove Concrete Anchors

Contractors often use concrete anchors to securely fix everything from large motors and pipes to structural frames and much more. However, there comes a time when these anchors need to be taken out, which is often easier said than done.

The removal process can be tough and requires a lot of elbow grease. And even after all that effort, they sometimes don’t come off entirely. In this piece, we’ll explain how to remove concrete anchors. We’ll look at the various types of anchors, the tools you’ll need for the job, and how the approach to removal can differ depending on the anchor type.

How are Concrete Anchors Removed?

Once you’ve put them in, concrete fasteners are generally not meant to be removed without damaging the concrete. If you try to yank them out with a lot of force, the material might crumble, leading the anchor to pop out and leave behind a hole that looks a bit like an upside-down cone.

But still, sometimes the anchors need to be removed. Both the male and female types can be removed if you know the proper steps to take. Also, it’s smart to think about whether you might need to take out the anchor and fixture later on before you decide on the type of concrete anchor for your project.

The effort needed to pull out an anchor is known as the ultimate pullout or ultimate tension load. This varies depending on how thick the anchor is and how deeply it’s been sunk into the material. Each type of fastener gives you a different level of hold for the same thickness and depth of embedment.

Common Types of Anchors 

Common Types of Anchors

Looking to remove concrete anchors? Exploring the various anchors will shed light on their distinct removal methods and the tools required for each.

1. Wedge Anchors

The wedge anchor comes with a tiny expanding sleeve on one end, making it perfect for use in solid concrete. It’s the go-to for securely fitting light posts, ductwork, and pallet racks, thanks to its strength and simple installation process.

Tightening the nut at the other end makes the sleeve expand, ensuring a firm hold in the concrete. This clever design delivers a strong grip, making wedge anchors the favourite choice for projects that need a sturdy anchoring system.

How to remove concrete wedge bolts?

  • If the hole beneath the anchor is deep enough, you can just knock it into the concrete with a hammer. It’s quick and you don’t have to bother pulling the whole anchor out.
  • You could also use a saw or grinding wheel to trim the anchor just above the surface, then give it a good whack with a hammer to flatten the rest into the concrete. This is handy when you can’t push the anchor any further in.
  • Alternatively, the best method is to core drill round the bolt. This method removes a cylindrical piece of the concrete leaving a perfect hole to fill with repair mortar.

2. Steel Drywall Anchors

Steel drywall anchors are your go-to mates for medium to heavy-duty jobs in drywall. Whether you’re hanging up cabinets, shelves, or that fancy wall-mounted telly, these anchors can handle loads both big and small. They’re a breeze to put up, which makes them quite popular.

Unlike the traditional anchors that might rely on expanding bits and bobs, steel drywall anchors snugly thread right into the drywall itself. This creates a secure grip that spreads the weight nicely over a bigger patch, reducing any chance of wall damage.

With this design, you can trust that the anchor will hold up a fair bit of weight without giving way.

How to remove steel drywall anchors?

  • If you’ve got plastic or steel drywall anchors, you can sometimes get them out by carefully pulling them with needle-nose pliers once you’ve removed any screws.
  • For those anchors that are snugly embedded, a screwdriver or drill might just do the trick to nudge the anchor out just enough to grab and pull out with pliers.
  • If getting them out isn’t working, another option is to push the anchor deeper into or through the wall using a small screwdriver and hammer, making the area ready for a bit of patching.

3. Lag Shield Anchors

Lag Shield Anchors are often used for medium-strength anchoring jobs in concrete, perfect for those practical, hands-on tasks around the house or on the job. They come with a bolt and a sleeve – quite simple really.

What you do is pop the sleeve into a hole you’ve drilled into the concrete beforehand. Then, as you twist the bolt into the lag shield, it expands and snugly fixes itself into the concrete. It’s a brilliantly straightforward way to make sure things stay put.

How to remove concrete lag shield anchors?

Interestingly, when it comes to removing them, lag shield concrete anchors might just be the simplest type out there, thanks to their clever design:

  • Start by unscrewing and taking out the bolt from the lag shield. This action causes the shield to lose its expanded state.
  • Without the bolt to cause expansion, the lag shield can naturally shrink a bit.
  • Once it has shrunk, the anchor usually becomes loose enough to be easily yanked right out of the hole with hardly any effort.

4. Strike Anchors

Strike anchors have a clever design with an expandable body, a threaded top, and a pin that helps it widen into the concrete hole. They’re really handy for holding up heavy loads in solid concrete, which is why folks love using them to fix things like structural steel, machinery, and industrial shelving units in place.

Putting them in is pretty simple too. You just need to drill a hole first, pop in the anchor, and then push the pin down. This makes the body of the anchor get bigger and fixes it firmly into the concrete.

How to remove strike anchors from concrete?

Just like with other male anchors, you can’t fully remove strike anchors. However, you can deal with the bit that sticks out by following these steps:

  • First off, take off the nut and washer from the anchor.
  • If there’s enough room beneath the anchor, you can simply bash it into the concrete with a hammer.
  • Next, cut off the threaded bit that’s sticking out above ground.
  • If you’ve got a Boltbreaker, pop it over the bit sticking out, give it a rock back and forth once, and twist until the bolt breaks off below the surface. If not, you can saw through the bolt with a hacksaw or a grinding wheel.
  • You might need to make the leftover nub flush with the surrounding concrete. With sleeve anchors, you’re often able to knock them deeper into the ground with a hammer.
  • Finally, hammer or grind any rod that’s still sticking out as needed.

5. Split Drive Anchors

The split drive anchor is a clever little one-piece wonder with two halves that are already expanded. When you give it a good whack into a hole you’ve drilled beforehand, those halves squeeze together and then spring back out. This clever movement locks the anchor firmly into place. They’re brilliant for those medium-duty jobs and offer a quick way to get secure, non-removable anchor points fixed into concrete.

How to remove split drive anchors from concrete?

Once fitted, these anchors only show a flat head on the surface. The techniques for taking out these stubborn fasteners differ, but here are some tips for getting rid of hammer drive anchors and split-drive anchors:

  • Lever the anchor out using a flat pry bar and hammer
  • Cut off the head with a grinder, then flatten the bit that sticks out
  • Chisel under the head and yank the anchor out.

6. Drop-In and Machine Screw Anchors

Drop-in and machine screw anchors, which are perfect for snugly mounting and securing into concrete, are quite the favourites when it comes to overhead applications, fitting fixtures, and bolting machinery to floors. To install, you simply drill a hole of the right size and depth, then pop in the anchor.

For machine screw anchors, you’ll use a setting tool to widen the anchor within the hole. Drop-in anchors, meanwhile, have an internal thread and need an expansion plug to firmly fix them in place.

How to remove concrete Drop-In and Machine Screw Anchors?

Taking out drop-in and machine screw anchors from concrete is tricky, thanks to their flush design and how they expand to snugly fit into the concrete. Here are a few tips on handling these stubborn anchors:

  • Since the whole anchor is below the surface, any bolts or threaded rods linked to them can just be unscrewed.
  • You can then fill the hole with a decent concrete patch compound.
  • Unfortunately, there’s no way to get a machine screw anchor or drop-in anchor out without a bit of damage to the concrete.

What is the most used tool for removing concrete anchor bolts

What is the most used tool for removing concrete anchor bolts?

The go-to method for removing concrete anchor bolts really depends on how you need to go about it. If there’s enough room under the anchor, you can sometimes just knock it straight into the ground. Some anchors might need you to get a bit more hands-on, requiring a good old hacksaw or cut-off wheel to chop them down, leaving just a bit sticking out above the ground.

Usually, you can just bash that bit flat with a hammer, though the bigger bits might need a bit of work with a grinding wheel to smooth them out. For these kinds of jobs, you’ll often find yourself reaching for trusty hand tools like hammers, hacksaws, and cut-off wheels, but you might also need to bring out the big guns like drills and grinders.

The tools you pick will depend on the type of anchor you’re dealing with, how deep the hole is, and how much of the anchor you need to get rid of or make a level with the concrete surface.

FAQs

Are all concrete anchors removable?

The go-to method for getting rid of concrete anchor bolts usually involves a trusty hammer and chisel. This pair works a treat for all sorts of anchor types and sizes, giving you the flexibility needed to either break the concrete around the anchor or snip the anchor itself.

For the more finicky jobs, a drill fitted with a screw extractor bit is perfect for taking out bolts without harming the surrounding concrete. On top of that, power tools like angle grinders and reciprocating saws come in handy for chopping off any bits of metal anchors sticking out, making the remains sit flush with the concrete surface or helping with further demolition and removal work.

How to  remove old screw anchors?

To get rid of old screw anchors from concrete, here’s a step-by-step guide to make the job easier:

  • Loosen the Anchor: Begin by loosening the screw within the anchor using a screwdriver. If you find the screw stuck or corroded, a bit of penetrating oil might just do the trick to loosen it.
  • Extract the Screw: Once it’s loosened, take the screw out of the anchor. You might need to use pliers or a screw extractor tool if the head of the screw is damaged.
  • Expand the Anchor: For those anchors that expand, you can slightly widen them by tapping a smaller screw or nail into the cavity. This creates a small gap between the anchor and the concrete, making it easier to pull out.
  • Use Pliers or a Claw Hammer: With pliers or the claw end of a hammer, gently grip the rim of the anchor and wiggle or twist it back and forth until it loosens.
  • Fill the Hole: Once you’ve removed the anchor, fill the hole with a suitable concrete patch product to keep the surface of the concrete intact.

Can concrete anchors be reused?

Generally speaking, it’s not a good idea to reuse concrete anchors, mainly for safety and structural soundness. Once an anchor’s put in and then taken out, its knack for spreading out loads and staying strong in the concrete isn’t what it used to be.

If you try using anchors again, they might not grip as well, meaning they might not hold up the weights they’re supposed to, which could lead to a bit of a disaster. It’s always best to go for new anchors with each installation to keep things safe and sound.

What is the best way to remove wall anchors from concrete ?

The easiest way to get wall anchors out of concrete involves a bit of patience and the right kit. Start by drilling around the anchor with a drill bit that’s a touch larger than the anchor itself. This helps loosen the anchor’s hold on the concrete.

Once you’ve drilled away enough concrete around the anchor, try to pull it out with locking pliers or a pry bar. If the anchor’s being a bit tricky, warming it up with a heat gun can make the metal expand a wee bit, easing its removal.

After you’ve got it out, fill the hole with a top-notch concrete patching compound to make the surface as good as new. For those particularly stubborn or flush-mount anchors, cutting the anchor level with the surface and then patching it over might be your best bet.

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