Ask The Expert


Hey Robert,

I’ve noticed that you’ve been writing a lot on gates recently. I hate to be redundant, but you said that as people either come in or out they jump on the loop but that will not cause the gate to open. We have a loop inside our garage and when you step on it or when a car drives over it, the gate opens. Just a small correction —thank you,

Marty R.

Hi Marty,

What you have is a truddle hose, which is pneumatically operated. This is not a loop. A loop is a set of wires that is put into the ground that creates a magnetic field that detects metal.

You have is what gas stations used to have in the old horseless carriage days before the electronics came about. That hose can be replaced with a loop or a photoelectric eye. That will eliminate people jumping on it and opening the gate if that is what you’d like to achieve.

For our younger readers, a truddle hose looks like a black garden hose that has a bladder on one end. When the hose is compressed, air pushes the contact and causes the gate to open.

Hi Robert,

One of our fire hydrants (out of three on our property) has been hit twice this year. They came out and replaced the bolts with break-a-way bolts. Is it a good idea to replace the break-a-way bolts with strong bolts so it will stop the car? Sincerely,

Rebecca P.

Hi Rebecca,

The reason breakaway bolts are used is because you want the hydrant to sheer away from the underground line, which is usually ductile. These lines are very cost prohibitive to repair so they are protected as well as possible. Also, the breakaway bolts are code so they must be installed. They have to be put in with the head on top of the hydrant. Inspectors don’t want to see the threads sticking up.

I’ve seen some of those ductile lines buried as deep as nine feet. If you were to break one of them below grade, you’re talking about a major repair expense. It’s much less money to have the hydrant broken.

You can take steps to protect the hydrant. One preventative measure would be to put in some steel bollards. These are 4” black pipe with 1/4” walls. Mount them in such a way that the vehicles will hit the bollards before the hydrant. Pour them with a good footing of about 600 lbs. of concrete on each post and set about 2’ underground. Let the bollard come up about 3’ out of ground so they’ll be a little higher than the hydrant. Keep them about 3’ – 4’ away from the hydrant so they don’t obstruct the hose connection and won’t interfere with firefighter access in case of emergency.

These bollards are not appealing to look at, but they will stop the car before it reaches the hydrant. If you are having continuous problems at that area, then this is the way to address it.

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Robert Lamoureux of IMS Construction, Valencia, CA, has 30 years experience as a Commercial, General, Electrical and Plumbing contractor. The opinions expressed in “Ask the Expert” are not to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after a thorough visual inspection has been made.

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