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How do you get through the frozen ground to dig footings for a deck? Im thinking there is about 12" to 16" in. of frozen ground to get through. I thought I could rent bobcat with an auger bit but all the rental places I all say it wont go through the frost. Any Ideas?? Its a job for an investor I work with and waiting till Spring is not really an option. Thanks
 

· Sawdust maker
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You can try a digging bar which will wear your arms out with 12-16" of frozen ground. You could also try to rent an electric jack hammer. I have used the digging bar in rocky soils, but never dug in frozen soil by hand.
 

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jawtrs hit on the head if you do not plan ahead or have protection from early freezing (snow or blankets). A bag a day or two in advance works wonders and if you cover it with a blanket as soon a possible will prevent freezing for a week or so.

If you have a sandy soil instead of clay, it is a piece of cake.
 

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Kingsford and lighter fluid
Right there is your answer, I've used this method before. Get a few metal paint cans and punch a bunch of holes in the bottom/sides and light everything in those, then you can lift them out with pliers and dig a little, and put them back. An electric jackhammer with a clay spade will also come in handy for you. If you don't want to spend the money on the charcoal just use the wood from the demo'd deck.
 

· Banned
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I see you are in Minneapolis as well. The best two things we have found are Charcoal or Diamond Pier. Pretty much every city in the metro is excepting Diamond Pier now. They drive through frost without any problems. Your supply yard should have a tool to borrow or can put you in touch with the Diamond Pier rep. They will come to your site and help install the first deck.
 

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There was a post here recently about a deck builder who uses his auger to dig through asphalt - no problem; he even posted pictures.

If an auger will go through asphalt, I'd imagine it would go through frost. Or am I wrong or just optimistic?
 

· Deck Parts Retailer
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This method is for the people who don't have a skid steer, or a $60-$100 per hole budget, and are interested in working right away.

In 96 I used a pick axe, made a point in the frozen dirt, filled the point with diesel (approx 1 ounce) lit it up, Than I went to each hole and repeated the process, 18 holes.
Took the little beaver auger to the 1st hole and dug, it went down 6", I repeated the burn and dig cycle in the same order , 2nd try it went down 18" or so, 3rd time it went to 4'. It works great if you keep doing it in a cycle.
The best part about doing this is the fire trail going up the auger as you are digging.
18 holes 3 hours, 3 people doing the work.
Than we went ice fishing on the lake.
 

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I have 2 jackhammers. They make quick work of the frosty clay around here. Add some AntiHydro to the crete mix and you're good to go.

People always ask, "You can build decks in the winter???" My reply, "Yes, my mortgage doesn't just stop for 3 months out of the year". :)
True, but you're near me. We don't know what it's like in Minneapolis. I know our frost line here is 30"...there, probably 60+/-"
 

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I have a carbide tip on my little beaver and it goes through asphalt or frozen ground. I have also used a standard bobcat auger to go through asphalt before, so I imagine it will go through frost, but haven't tried it.
 

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Have you used them?
I don't personally build any more. I would estimate 80% of the builders in Minneapolis we sell to use the Diamond Pier on 90% of their projects. I have yet to meet someone that has actually used one that didn't think it was the best solution for a footing in Minnesota. 48-60" footings. In areas south of here, the value of the product decreases as the frost line decreases.

Disclaimer: We don't sell Diamond Pier. No financial interest in the product at all.
 
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