As a property manager or owner, you already know how imperative proper maintenance is. Yes, the likes of regular HVAC tune-ups, landscape management and floor cleaning is crucial, but these are hardly the only things that need to be cared for and maintained on your property.
One often overlooked – yet crucial – apparatus that you need to start giving thought to is one that could literally save your life: the fire hydrant.
Yes, the fire hydrant. Many property managers and business owners assume that it’ll be working properly if and when it’s necessary. Yet, this isn’t always the case. Just like any other mechanical apparatus, fire hydrants need maintenance to work properly.
The good news is that maintenance is fairly convenient. You may even be able to perform it (or at least parts of it) yourself.
Fire Hydrant Maintenance: The Basics
Minimally, fire hydrants should be inspected and flushed once a year. Ideally, however, this inspection and maintenance is best performed twice a year, once in the fall and again in the spring.
Some common issues with fire hydrants that need to be regularly addressed include:
- Debris accumulation
- Mechanical issues
- Poor water flow
- Stuck caps
Regular maintenance can help prevent some of these issues.
Reminder: Theses steps are only if your water main is private. If your property’s water main is public, the fire department will handle this for you. If you think something is wrong with your hydrant, be sure to give them a call!
How to Maintain a Fire Hydrant: Step By Step Guide
Here’s a look at the basic process of maintaining a fire hydrant. For a video demonstration of the process, click here.
As a very important precursor, make sure you’re using a special hydrant wrench if needed. Be sure to check with your hydrant manufacturer to see what exactly is required for your hydrant.
- First things first, take a walk around the hydrant and give it a visual inspection. Take note of any loose or missing parts.
- Using a hydrant wrench, if required, make sure the top valve seat is fully closed, then remove a nozzle cap and check for water in the barrel. Hopefully, there’s no water in the barrel. But if there is, check for damage to the valve seat or see if any of the O rings are damaged or missing.
- Use the hydrant wrench, if required, turn the top valve so the hydrant is fully open. You’ll know when it’s completely open, as it will come to a stopping point. Next, close the hydrant slowly. You should be making a turn with the hydrant wrench every second to prevent creating a water hammer that could wreak havoc on the water main.
- Next, remove the nozzle caps and allow the hydrant to drain. Check for thread damage as you perform this task, cleaning out threads with a wire brush if necessary and applying lubricant before replacing the nozzle caps.
- Make sure that the chains are free hanging, and adjust as necessary via the cap loop on the tip of the nozzle caps.
- Remove the weather cap from the top of the valve seat and lubricate the hydrant through the tip of the nut. As a reminder, you should only be using special lubricant recommended by the hydrant manufacturer. Replace the weather cap and bolt when finished.
Remember, proper fire hydrant maintenance could literally save lives. It's why it's important to take it seriously.
Questions About Any of the Steps?
The best way to get clarification about your utilities and hydrant is to contact the utility owner or contractor who installed your water line. They’ll be able to answer any questions, and walk you through the process as needed.