A concrete pump can be a must-have for any homeowner looking to pour concrete for a large driveway, patio, slab for an outbuilding, or any other such project. Trying to shovel concrete by hand for these types of jobs can be physically difficult, messy, and unsafe. Since so many home improvement stores rent out concrete pumps, it's often a better choice to have one on hand for such projects; when you do, note a few simple but very important tips for their use.
Get the right pump
You may not realize that smaller pumps are meant for grout and mortar and not for actual concrete. Grout and mortar are lighter and don't need to be pumped as quickly as concrete. You may assume that these small pumps are all you need for a patio in the backyard or small slab for an outdoor shed, but they may be too small to handle even these jobs. On the other hand, you probably don't need a large pump meant for pouring roadways and foundations for buildings if you're just pouring a driveway. When shopping for a pump, choose the right type and size for your job and don't assume that you can opt for the cheapest one or need the largest one available either.
Choose "pumpable" concrete
Not all concrete is meant to be pushed through a pump. The pump will typically use a mix of water, cement and sand to keep the concrete lubricated and keep it from sticking to the pump walls. If you choose a type of concrete that is already very runny, this will make it too watery and too weak. Other types of concrete may have thick aggregates added that make them too thick for the pump itself. Be sure you choose a "pumpable" type of concrete for your job that will still work for its application.
Note the position of the boom and pump
When the pump's arm is extended, you need to be very careful of the boom and the pump itself. If you put the pump too close to the edge of an excavation with a soft side, unfolding the arm for pumping will throw it off balance and it may actually slide into the excavation or begin to tip. Stabilize the pump itself; even if it has outriggers or extensions on the base to keep it in place, use bricks or solid boards you slide under the pump wheels for added stability.