What Is a Hydraulic Breaker: How It Works


Construction takes lots of manpower, heavy-duty equipment and the right application to get most building tasks done. While most job sites build structures, often there is demolition or material removal that also needs to take place. There are different machines designed to lift, scoop and plow material around with lots of different attachments ready for specific tasks.

Among the most useful is a hydraulic breaker. If you have never heard of one, you may be surprised by what it can do and its importance on any job site.

So, what is a hydraulic breaker?

A Powerful Percussion Hammer

Breaking up concrete and rock requires machinery to get it done effectively, and it is back-breaking work to do it by hand. Manual labour was all we had before mechanical automation, but this has changed for the better, and heavy-duty equipment is vital on a work site.

A hydraulic breaker is like a jackhammer’s much bigger brother. Both can break up hard debris, but a hydraulic breaker uses a powerful hydraulic system for added power and strength. A hydraulic piston is implemented to provide a consistent thrust into your obstruction to break it up for removal, and it is a precision tool that can be placed accurately where a qualified machine operator needs it.

Older equipment used mechanical force and compressed air to break up concrete and rock, but a hydraulics percussion hammer makes the job easier. This tool is for when you need more power than a jackhammer can provide and when blasting is prohibited in the area.

An Attachment Tool

A hydraulic breaker is an implement that can be attached to a variety of machines, including:

  • Excavators
  • Skid steers
  • Track loaders
  • Tractors

Most machines connect to the breaker fairly easily by aligning the pinhole with the arm of the machine and inserting the pins in place. Then you attach the hydraulic lines, and it is good to go. Some equipment connects differently, so refer to your machine and its operational manual for help. Always make sure there is a solid connection before putting it to use to avoid damage and a dangerous work environment.

Ultimately, it is an attachment that quickly goes on when needed and is taken off and stored away until the next time so you can utilize your machine for other tasks.


A hydraulic breaker is a heavy-duty piece of equipment and should be respected when operating. There can be serious injury with the weight of the attachment while putting it into position and during its “braking” action. Safe operation includes:

  • Clearing workers from direct areas of usage
  • Use the right-sized attachment for the job
  • Be aware of pinch points when installing and removing attachment
  • Only operate the breaker from the operator’s seat in the machine
  • Wear protective eyewear and use the machine’s protective window to shield you from flying debris
  • Work the breaker from the edges of the obstruction rather than the centre
  • Use it in a perpendicular orientation toward the object
  • Be cautious of contact with walls if working in a trench

The hydraulic breaker is for breaking up objects only. Never use it to try and lift something, move something or as a pry bar. This may damage the attachment or machinery and be a hazard to those around you. Work on an area for a maximum of 15 seconds and then disengage. You should also never fully submerge the breaker while in use.

Another thing to avoid is blank firing. This is when you engage the breaker with no object to take the impact. The piston fires into the shank, but the force is not taken into anything, resulting in the shock sent back into the tool and clashing with other shocks. This results in undue wear and tear on the breaker. Having an experienced operator can sense a break and stop the tool to limit the amount of blank fires as it is being used.

Inspect The Breaker Before Use

As with all your equipment, a hydraulic breaker must be inspected before you use it to ensure safe operation. Check that it is greased and lubed up, and inspect for worn parts and loose fittings. During operation, if you notice any hydraulic oil leaks or the hoses rattling, there is a problem. Shut off the machine and inspect for worn gaskets and hoses. Other issues could lead to the tool seizing up completely.

A well-maintained tool will give you smooth operation, so take care of your breaker so it will serve you well.

This is a hydraulic breaker in all its glory. If you have a task that is beyond the capabilities of a jackhammer, using a hydraulic breaker is the tool to get the job done fast and efficiently.

Dean is a self-professed tech geek with a fondness for computers, video games, and any novelty tech-savvy gadgets.