Hydraulic breakers are meant to dish out the destruction, not be subject to it, and the proper operation of a breaker can extend its lifespan and therefore its value to your company. As well, a properly cared for and operated piece of machinery has less downtime for repairs. Considering how much destructive force a breaker can dish out it is amazing that the lifespan of a breaker is measured in years but that’s only with good preventative care. The only thing keeping your breaker from being a nice piece of scrap metal is the maintenance you put into it. Towards that end here, are some of our best tips for operation of your hydraulic breakers:
Tracking and Logging
You should be tracking the use of your breaker so you can schedule preventative maintenance, inspections, and eventual replacement. If you aren’t logging your tools use, you’re just guessing on maintenance needs, and that will cost you money in the long run.
Conduct Routine Maintenance
Daily maintenance should include a visual inspection of the breaker before use. Do you check your hoses often? What about the point (the working steel)? What about the nitrogen pressure? That should be checked once a year. If the nitrogen level gets too low, it might not fire properly or it might not hit as hard and you’ll put more stress on the attachment to do the same job it did previously. Adding the performed maintenance to your tracking log of the equipment will give you the information to know about the stress levels on the tools, look at benchmarks for expected longevity of use, and you can adjust maintenance or processes to get the most out of your tools.
Don’t Dwell Too Long in One Place
Hammering continuously in one place for more than 30 seconds is never a good idea. If it doesn’t go through the material in 30 seconds it’s time to rethink how you’re approaching the material. Try altering the position of the breaker or try from a different angle to target a smaller break off. Shift your position often to find the optimal break point.
Minimize/Eliminate Blank Firing of Your Attachment
A certain amount of blank, or dry firing, is inevitable given the nature demolition, but it is hard on the attachment so minimize it. All of the energy that would transfer into your material instead goes into your attachment and arm. Dry firing can quickly result in reverberations to the attachment and carrier weakening or damaging the structure. If the breaker is continually “bouncing” instead of breaking, something is amiss and needs to be looked at, such as flow rates and pressure.
Match to the Carrier and Application
To ensure a proper match between carrier and attachment, manufacturers offer specification charts. Make sure to reference these charts before making a final selection. Using a smaller than needed attachment will quickly wear out the attachment. Using a larger attachment is harder on your machine and doesn’t optimize the effort of the breaker. Also, if you are swapping breakers between machines ensure that they still match.
It can be tempting to move debris with the breaker to try to speed up the task at hand; however, prying with the working point can break, bend or damage the tool. Use it for what it is designed for and switch out the tool when needed. No one wants to explain how they broke a tool by using it for a task it wasn’t designed. A breaker is a very specific tool, not a multi-tool, so don’t treat it as such.
Want Longevity? Grease is the answer.
Greasing is the most important maintenance task on a breaker. Grease performs two main functions: it lubricates the attachment to prevent wear and it clears the tool bushing area of built up crud. The right amount of grease is key. Too much grease and you may get a build up between the strike piston and the tool top – this absorbs striking force from the piston to the work tool. Too little grease mixed with dust and now you have an abrasive, lapping compound that quickly wears away at the parts of your breaker. Grease often, and grease well.
Stanley offers these tips in their instruction manuals for their breakers and are good policies for any breaker operator to follow:
- Do not operate the tool unless thoroughly trained or under the supervision of an instructor.
- Become familiar with the carrier controls before operating the carrier and the breaker.
- When operating the breaker you must use ear protection, eye protection, and breathing protection.
- While learning to operate the breaker and carrier, do so at a slow pace. If necessary, set the carrier mode selector to the slow position.
- Make sure all controls (levers and pedals) are in the NEUTRAL position before starting the carrier.
- While operating the breaker and carrier, keep hands and feet on the controls at all times.
- Before leaving the carrier, always lower the boom and insure the carrier is stable. Never leave the machine with the engine running. ALWAYS ENGAGE THE PARKING BRAKE.
- Stop the engine before attempting to make any repairs, adjustments or servicing to either the carrier or the breaker.
- Do not operate the tool at oil temperatures above 190 °F/88 °C. Operation at higher temperatures can damage the internal components of the breaker and carrier and will result in reduced breaker performance.
- Do not operate a damaged, leaking, improperly adjusted, or incompletely assembled breaker.
- Do not modify the breaker in any manner.
- To avoid personal injury or equipment damage, all breaker repair, maintenance and service must only be performed by authorized and properly trained personnel.
Finally, if you do not understand how to safely operate your breaker, contact Accudraulics for training and assistance. We’d be glad to help.