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What Problems Can Occur When You Don't Properly Maintain A Fire Hydrant?

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Fire hydrants need to be dependable. When the fire department arrives on the scene to put out a fire, they need to be certain that the hydrants are going to be capable of supplying them with all of the high-pressure water that they need. When the fire department can get fast access to water, they have a better chance of limiting property damage and injury.

Regular fire hydrant maintenance is vital for making sure that the fire department can rely on them. If not maintained, they may fail to provide any water at all. To learn about some problems that can be caused by failing to maintain fire hydrants, read on.

Damage Due to Water Freezing in the Hydrant

In areas of the country where the air temperature drops below freezing in the winter, you can't leave water in a fire hydrant. They're above ground and they're not insulated, so any water in them will freeze during the winter. The water expanding as it transforms into ice can crack the hydrant and damage valves, leading to a leak.

There are two main ways that water can be left in a fire hydrant. The first is operator error. If the fire department doesn't open the drain outlets after using the fire hydrant, water will be left inside it. The other way that water can get into a fire hydrant is through a leak in the supply valve. Water will slowly fill the hydrant due to the leak, and it will eventually freeze in the winter if the leak is not noticed.

Regular maintenance reduces the chance that a hydrant will be damaged by water freezing inside of it. The water level will be checked during the inspection to make sure there's no leak and the hydrant wasn't accidentally left full of water. If there's water in the hydrant, it will be drained. Any leaks that are found in the hydrant will be repaired to stop it from filling up again. 

Rust on the Operating Stem

When a firefighter uses a hydrant, they turn an operating stem on the top using a fire hydrant wrench in order to open up the flow of water. If this operating stem rusts, it can be very difficult to turn. If a firefighter needs to use a pipe to get extra torque on the stem in order to turn it, the stem may break off. This will make the flow of water impossible to stop. Fixing the problem requires shutting off water to the whole area while the stem is being repaired, which is highly disruptive to nearby homes and businesses.

This problem can be prevented with regular maintenance. During the inspection, a technician will test the operating stem to make sure it's easy to turn. They'll also apply lubricant to the stem, which will inhibit rust formation and allow the hydrant to be operated easily.

Debris in the Hydrant

Debris, such as mineral deposits, can flow into the hydrant from the supply line and become trapped there. This debris can clog the outlet valve, which will prevent firefighters from getting any water from the hydrant. They can also clog the supply valve, which will stop the hydrant from filling up with water when it's used.

As part of regular maintenance, the hydrant needs to be flushed in order to remove any debris that has accumulated inside it. Flushing the debris reduces the likelihood that the hydrant will develop a clog that prevents it from operating normally.

If you have a private fire hydrant on your property that you're responsible for maintaining or if you're a municipal water service, make sure all of your hydrants are on a regular maintenance schedule. This ensures your hydrants will work when the fire department needs them to. If your hydrants aren't regularly maintained, call a fire hydrant service in your area and ask them to set up a yearly maintenance program for all of the hydrants you're responsible for. They'll keep your hydrants in working order, making sure they're capable of providing the water that the fire department needs to put out fires.

Contact a local fire hydrant service, such as Fire Tech Extinguisher Service, to learn more.