Summertime means vacation time for many people. But for others, it’s the time to break out the tools and fix up things around the house. If you’re looking for a summer DIY project, opening a fire hydrant with a lock may be up your alley! This article will show you how to open a fire hydrant with a lock. So if you’re ready to get started, keep reading!
Fire hydrants are used all across the country to help firefighters get water quickly in case of an emergency. But they are used by firefighters and homeowners who want access to clean drinking water. Even if your home has its private well, you can’t open up a hydrant on public property for personal use. You’ll have to get the keys from the city or county first before using one of these hydrants yourself.
Tools and Materials:
- Fire hydrant wrench
- Screwdriver or flathead
- Thinner or penetrating
- Safety glasses
A Detailed Guide on How to Open a Fire Hydrant With a Lock
Step 1: Determine How to Get to the Hydrant’s Valve
The first step you should take in learning to open a fire hydrant with a lock is finding how to access the hydrant’s valve. The most common way to look on your local firefighter association website is for an interactive map of hydrants throughout your area. However, it may also help if you contact your city water service provider directly, letting you know where hydrants are located if they aren’t marked on the map.
Another way is checking the nearest address of the hydrant next to it – if there is one, you’ll find that large green boxes usually accompany these with metal grates over them. If you cannot get close enough to the hydrant, look for a nearby building with a door or another way to get in.
Step 2: Prepare to Open the Hydrant by Removing the Lock
Take off any jewelry or watches on your hands and put on your safety glasses – you don’t want this next part to go wrong. Then take out your screwdriver, wrench, or flathead and slowly begin attacking the lock surrounding the hydrant’s valve.
The key here is patience – if you can avoid making loud noises such as banging against it with tools, do so. Eventually, even rusted locks can be removed – try not to break them entirely apart if they fall into the hydrants’ valve area and cannot be retrieved without damage.
Step 3: Turn the Hydrant’s Valve to Open it and Check for Water.
Now that your hydrant lock is removed put the screwdriver or wrench away and grab your other oil, such as penetrating oil or thinner. Pour a few drops of this into the valve area and turn it two complete turns in the clockwise direction. After doing so, check underneath for any visible dripping water – if none is there, hook up a hosepipe to test whether there is any pressure in the system.
If you have an air compressor with a blowgun attachment available, use this set on “blow” mode to remove rust from the inside of your hydrant’s cap before accessing its valve by hand. Once there is visible water dripping, the hydrant is ready to use. Put all your tools away and go somewhere where they won’t be damaged or dirty if they get wet.
Step 4: Open a Fire Hydrant in an Emergency
If you find no visible water when you’re opening the hydrant, there are some things to check before panicking. First, if you have an air compressor with a blowgun attachment, use it on “blow” mode to remove any rust inside your hydrant’s cap.
Also, be sure that its valve has been turned in the clockwise direction and not just halfway – this will ensure maximum pressure when using it. Finally, try turning your main city water supply on and off quickly – if there’s nothing wrong with either your house or street valves, this should temporarily eliminate any air bubbles within your system. Once done, open your hydrant by turning its valve counterclockwise.
Step 5: Close the Fire Hydrant After Use
Once you’re done using your fire hydrant, it’s important to remember that it must be closed off after shutting any water valves leading to it on your property. Wrap the hydrant lock back around its cap and tighten securely before going elsewhere.
If people in your area tend to steal hydrants, consider getting a giant lock or even finding a way to weld shut the entire lid. Remember that a fire hydrant can also be used as a regular drain for power washers that aren’t in use – if you have one of these within reach when you open up your hydrant, make sure you switch the hose settings from “shower” mode to “strea’m” before turning it on.
One last thing to consider is your water pressure – although most residential homes have a system that delivers at least ten psi, the higher, the better. If you need a lot of pressure for using a pressure washer or even rinsing off something significant such as an entire car, try tying together two hoses and opening up both hydrant valves at once.
This will allow double the water volume through at roughly double the speed – make sure that you don’t overload your pipes by doing so, or else they could burst.
Although there are other ways to access hydrants, these can be difficult without proper tools and knowledge of your area’s distribution system. Even if it seems too easy to be true that all you have to do is open hydrant valves, it’s usually the case due to their simplicity of construction.
Even if your home or nearby properties don’t get drained by opening them up, they are still designed only for quick access in emergencies. If you begin using fire hydrants outside these parameters, expect consequences sooner rather than later. These steps will help in how to open a fire hydrant with a lock.
- Always make sure the hydrant is dry before opening it. Opening a wet hydrant can cause you to be pulled in and drown.
- Always use an ax, sledgehammer, or drill for this job. Make sure you are using the right tool as there have been injuries due to using the wrong one.
- Never stand down from a running hydrant when opening it. If the water jet hits you at high speeds, you could catch on fire, causing severe injury or even death.
- If you are caught tampering with a fire hydrant during regular working hours, avoid looking guilty by following these tips: find your nearest firefighter and yell, “There’s water coming out of that hydrant!” while pointing, smile and run away quickly so they think you’re just kidding.
- If you get caught during off-hours, such as after dark, avoid looking guilty by following these tips: find your nearest neighborhood watch member and yell, “There’s water coming out of that hydrant!” while pointing, smiling, and running away quickly so they think you’re just kidding.
How Does a Hydrant Wrench Work?
A hydrant wrench is a tool that firefighters use to open fire hydrants. There are two types of hydrant wrenches: the T wrench and the spanner. As their names suggest, the T wrench has a crossbar shape, while the spanner stretches out like an “S.” Both tools have sockets for connecting to your fire hose. This allows you to put pressurized water through the hydrant’s operating nut so that it can be unscrewed.
The winding bar on this hydrant wrench opens up so that there is more space between its ends when you twist it onto the nut. Then, as you turn the bar clockwise, it winds around in one direction and tightens around the nut.
The socket on a hydrant wrench usually has a ratchet mechanism and an O-ring seal that creates a pressure-sealing connection with the fire hydrant. This ensures that water will only flow from your connected hose and not leak out of the sides between the wrench and hydrant.
Can You Open a Fire Hydrant With a Pipe Wrench?
If you’re worried about your community’s water pressure, there are a few simple things you can check. First, it is illegal for anyone other than the fire department to open a hydrant in most places. However, most people don’t know that hydrant wrenches typically come in 2 sizes: large and small.
Most general maintenance technicians will use a large wrench to crack open a hydrant. But if you want to get into the more minor twists used by firefighters, you need to use a pipe wrench or crescent wrench with an adjustable jaw size. Remember, not everyone has access to such specialized tools, which some companies may keep locked up or out of reach from the public eye.
You can check it out to Remove a Disc Lock Without A Key
We hope you have learned how to open a fire hydrant with a lock. Opening a fire hydrant with a lock is not as daunting as it may seem. With a few simple tools and some patience, you can have the water flowing in no time. Be safe while working with open hydrants, and always use caution when near running water. Have you ever had to open a locked fire hydrant? What was your experience like?