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    Bollard Troubleshooting Guide

    BFT driveway bollard

    One of the key selling points of installing a set of driveway bollards to secure your home and to prevent or deter car theft is that it’s a passive, mechanical security device. There’s no complexity to their design, be it a piece of software that’ll glitch out, or electronics that could fry or suffer issues. With such few points of failure in them, driveway bollards guarantee a more reliable, dependable, and robust form of security to protect your car. But, that’s not to say that driveway bollards won’t suffer problems every now and then, particularly with neglect or poor maintenance. A good bollard troubleshooting guide, therefore, can be handy.

    Among the most common issues you might encounter with driveway bollards include:

    1. The lock is stuck in place or is difficult to operate
    2. Your driveway bollard(s) not retracting or extending properly
    3. Corrosion or rust that compromises its structural integrity
    4. Damage from already being impacted by a vehicle
    5. General mechanical ageing, as well as wear and tear
    6. With that in mind, here’s our guide and walkthrough on why these particular driveway bollard-related issues occur, and what you can do about them…

    1. The Lock Being Stuck Or Are Difficult To Operate

    You’re definitely going to notice this right away once you’ve approached your driveway bollard, but have you ever noticed that your key might not turn as easily as it used to? Or, sometimes, the lock itself might not engage or disengage properly.

    The driveway bollard’s lock could, over time, become stuck due to exposure and build-up of dirt and debris. You might also sometimes encounter rust accumulating within the locking mechanism, which will make it harder to lock and unlock seamlessly. The severity of this does depend on the design of the driveway bollard, as some do feature a flap that covers off the lock, making it way harder for dirt and debris to clog it up, or for rust to form so readily.

    There are some things you could do to try and fix this and encourage the lock to work once again:

    • Grab a can of compressed air, and blow out any dirt and debris that’s clogging up the lock cylinder. A strong gust of air would usually work pretty well to help dislodge dirt and debris that might be hindering the locking mechanism.
    • If the compressed air doesn’t work, or as a backup plan, you could also try to lubricate the bollard’s locking mechanism. I’d advise against using oil-based lubricants, as they might otherwise attract more dirt and debris to build up inside the lock cylinder. Instead, consider using a graphite-based lubricant, particularly if you’re able to find one that’s made specifically for lock tumblers.
    • Rust inside the lock cylinder is a bit harder to get rid of, but there are de-rusting solutions that you could use. Ideally, to thoroughly remove all the rust, you’re likely going to have to remove the lock, and soak it in a de-rusting solution. If you don’t have access to commercial rust removers, white vinegar is a pretty decent DIY alternative.

    2. Your Bollard Isn’t Retracting Or Extending Properly

    This is a problem that you might come across with really old driveway bollards, or bollards that have been extensively exposed to weathering and ageing. Here, you may notice that the bollards are stuck in either an extended or retracted position, and couldn’t be moved at all. At best, you might be able to retract and extend it to some extent, but it’s not as effortless as it used to be.

    There could be many underlying reasons why your driveway bollards can’t retract or extend properly. There might be physical obstructions within the mechanism that prevents it from moving. Alternatively, it might’ve suffered a serious mechanical failure or fault with the hydraulic system. There could be numerous more possible points of failure if you’re using an automated, electro-mechanical bollard, instead. Electrical problems or issues with the transmitter-receiver unit, the control unit, and wiring-related troubles could all affect your bollard.

    It’s a lot harder to try and fix this, and I’d certainly recommend calling up a professional. But, for context, here is what’s usually done to resolve this:

    • First off, this is something that you can check and manage yourself, but a good first step is making sure the bollard is clear of obstructions. This means checking for any stones, rocks, dirt, or debris that might be lodged in the bollard, preventing you from being able to raise or lower it.
    • Another thing you might be able to do at home is to try and clean the bollard’s internal track or guide system. If they’re clogged up with dirt and debris and are preventing movement, it could be dislodged if you flush water down there, and maybe get in there with a brush. Granted, make sure you’re careful to not cause any further damage.
    • Just like the aforementioned lock tumbler, a bit of lubrication helps to ensure that your driveway bollard’s moving parts run more smoothly. Something like silicon-based lubricants might be a good fit for this. Just make sure that you don’t over-lubricate the bollard’s moving parts, as it may attract more dirt or debris back in there.
    • If your driveway bollard has hydraulic components to aid the process of raising or lowering it, you could try checking for signs of hydraulic damage. It can be rather obvious at times, as you might notice hydraulic fluid leaks around the bollard, or even low hydraulic pressure if you’re able to gauge it. Low hydraulic pressure will cause issues with your bollard’s proper operation, and it will need a top-up or a system bleed.

    3. Corrosion And Rust Around Your Bollards

    Given that your driveway bollards sit outside, constantly exposed to rainfall, snow, and road salt, corrosion is a common problem faced by many homeowners. You may notice visible rust spots on the surface of the bollard, especially around the locks or joints. Rust won’t just impact the way your shiny driveway bollards look, but crucially, it compromises their structural integrity. Don’t expect those high-impact resistance figures to hold up nearly as much now when the bollards are all rust and corroded.

    If you notice any rust on the bollards, one thing you should do first is inspect the state of that corrosion. Are you dealing with surface-level rust, or is it penetrating rust that’s gone all the way through the metal? Although surface rust isn’t too serious and could be fixed, penetrating rust often necessitates replacing the entire bollard, if you want to guarantee its structural strength and impact resistance.

    With that in mind, here are some things you could do to try and resolve corrosion on or around your driveway bollards:

    • Once again, surface rust is easy to fix. All you need is a wire brush and some sandpaper to remove surface rust from the affected areas. This prepares the rust for further treatment and removal.
    • Once you’ve sanded off the surface rust, apply some rust converter. These rust converters basically neutralise those rust spots chemically, converting them into a stable compound, as well as preventing further corrosion.
    • After all those rust spots have been removed, it’s a good idea to repaint your driveway bollards to provide a protective layer against weathering and exposure to the elements. You might want to consider a rust-resistant finish to your driveway bollard, such as using epoxy paint or galvanising the surface. This alone should massively aid in enhancing its rust resistance.
    • As a preventative measure, in the future, you could also consider getting a bollard cover. These are essentially sleeves that you slot over the bollards, providing some added protection in harsh weather conditions.

    4. Damage Caused By Impact With A Vehicle

    Whether it’s an accident or someone did try to ram through to somewhere where they’re not supposed to, a driveway bollard can take quite a bit of punishment. But, with enough force, that collision might render your driveway bollard useless, given that it might be bent, broken entirely, or misaligned following the impact.

    It’s important for you to evaluate how serious the damage is…

    • Is it merely superficial damage that’s scuffed up or scratched your bollard’s outer finish? If so, then you likely won’t have to do anything else, aside from maybe repainting it.
    • Or, has that impact caused some serious internal damage to the bollards and compromised their structural integrity? If so, you may have no other choice but to consider getting a replacement, which is usually the safest option.

    There isn’t a lot that you could do to fix this, but if you’re in this situation, here’s what needs doing next:

    • For minor bending, you could temporarily un-bend the damaged bollards with a crowbar or a mallet. The only precaution you need to be aware of is being careful to not cause further damage.
    • While you’re there, you should also check the bollard’s mounting or base for any damage. A compromised base will affect the stability of the bollards (and this also applies if you’re buying a new bollard, too), so it might need urgent repairs or reinforcement.
    • In addition, if your driveway bollard is embedded deeply underground, the impact might render enough force to damage surrounding areas. Just in case, it might be prudent to inspect underground utilities such as cables or piping and address any potential damage.

    5. Mechanical Wear And Tear

    Over time, your driveway bollards may become loose, and wobbly, or it doesn’t function smoothly once it ages. This may not necessarily impact how secure it is or its impact resistance, but at most, it might make it harder to use. As we noted earlier, this could cause further issues down the line, such as a stuck lock cylinder, or difficulty with raising or lowering the bollards.

    Wear and tear is unfortunately inevitable, particularly so with frequent use. If you’re really eager to make sure your driveway bollards remain in tip-top shape, it helps to identify any worn-out parts, loose bolts, or damaged components within the bollard’s internal mechanism. Additionally, it won’t hurt to care for your lock cylinder, looking after the flaps that cover the locks, making sure the sliding mechanism doesn’t jam, and ensuring you don’t lose the key.

    Here are some preventative maintenance things you can practice to keep your driveway bollards in good shape:

    • One of the best things you can do is clean your driveway bollards, as well as its surrounding areas, such as the base and mounting surface. Pay close attention to any dirt, debris, grime, loose rocks, stones, gravel, and so on that can cause mechanical issues.
    • Every few months, particularly if you use your driveway bollards regularly, it helps to apply some lubricant. An appropriate lubricant (silicon-based ones are the most common) on the bollard’s moving parts ensures smooth operation and helps to reduce wear and tear.
    • If you notice any rust or corrosion, it’s recommended to treat that rust immediately, once they appear. It’s way easier to deal with surface rust than penetrating rust. Simply treating them with a rust converter and applying a protective coating or finish over the top is more than enough to prevent rust formations from building up.
    • Since you’re looking over your driveway bollards anyway, take a bit more time to inspect the driveway bollards themselves. Check all the bolts and screws that secure the bollards in place, and tighten any that are loose. Doing so maintains that your driveway bollards remain stable, it can operate smoothly and preserve its structural integrity.
    • Given that weathering and exposure to harsh weather is one of the key reasons for extensive wear and tear on your bollards, I’d also suggest checking them seasonally. Particularly, consider performing thorough inspections before and after extreme weather conditions – i.e. winter storms or heavy rain – to ensure that you stay on top of weather-related damage.

    And hey, if you’re seeking help with your driveway bollard, or if you have issues with it that you need fixing, or if you’re looking to buy a new one as a replacement, we’re happy to help! We have over 15 years of experience with installing and maintaining security solutions – including driveway bollards – throughout the UK. In that time, we’ve worked with countless residential, commercial, and industrial clients, so you can bet that we know the ins and outs of driveway bollards to know what makes them tick, and why they go wrong. So, don’t hesitate to contact us at 01535 920362 for any advice or assistance.