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What the bollocks is a Bollard?

     All a bollard is----is a post installed next to something you don’t want whacked by anything.  Out in the wild, one can see Bollards next to electrical transformers, gas meters and gas pumps at the ESSO station.  You might also find them in the middle of a road, if the road is not for public use.  The bollard can then be removed to allow authorized vehicles to use the road.  Lots of parks and forest service roads have these kinds of bollards.

     In homes you will find them primarily in the garage to prevent the furnace and/or water heater from getting hit by vehicles----as in this picture.

Nice Bollard installed to protect the water heater     So, how does the inspector inspect these bollards?  A really good test would be to get in the car and give the car a good go at it.  Of course this could have disastrous consequences that would also likely result in the inspector never doing another inspection.

     There is actually no really good way to test the effectiveness of a bollard because it is a function of scale.  No bollard can stop a 2000 pound car going 20 miles an hour with no breaks.  In that scenario the water heater is going to eat the car.  I am not sure that the bollard could even stand the same scenario at 10 miles per hour; however, I do think it should be able to withstand a moderate karate kick from a 62 year-old.

     The one in the picture did not.  One good kick pulled the bolts right out of the concrete. 

Inadequately attached Bollard     Mechanical type bolts should never be used to resist “pull-out” type forces.  Epoxy type bolts should be used for this type of installation.  Epoxy bolting will break the floor before it pulls out the bolts.  Some jurisdictions don’t allow bolts but require that the post be imbedded in concrete----steel pipes filled with concrete.  The nice thing about bolting them is that they can be removed to make replacement of whatever they are protecting easier.

     A bollard should not just give the “appearance” of protection----it must actually perform as intended----to protect against moderate forces applied to it.

    The best solution of all of course is to stay sober, make sure your breaks work and keep the keys away from 6.2 year-olds.

Charles Buell

 

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Comment balloon 32 commentsCharles Buell • February 08 2009 09:23AM

Comments

I love reading your blog posts. Red heads with epoxy seem to work well, but embedding the post in the slab is the best!

Posted by Brent Johnson (Chase International South Tahoe Realty) over 9 years ago

Wow... a 62 year old with no brakes.... I like the idea.   Running at full tilt!!  You go girl boy!

We don't run into this issue in our climate.  No furnace or water heater could survive in our un-heated garages.

Posted by Alan May, Helping you find your way home. (Coldwell Banker Residential) over 9 years ago

Brent, it makes me wonder if anyone ever really thinks about whether the posts will hold anything back.

Alan, the image is one of the water heater eating the car:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Oh, I understood the "image" Charles...kaboom... our weather, here in the midwest, is just too severe to have the water heater or a furnace out in the garage, which we typically don't heat.

A water heater in an unheated garage (even wearing a thermal blanket) would just have to work too hard in the winter.  And the same for a furnace/AC (no blanket).

Posted by Alan May, Helping you find your way home. (Coldwell Banker Residential) over 9 years ago

Alan, I understand---even here I don't think they should be allowed in the garage----but they are:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

I would imagine, Charles, there are many instances where both appliances are on the other side of the garage wall, protected merely by a few loosely constructed metal 2x4's...

a car, if touching the gas, instead of the brakes, would punch through that wall in a moment, and impact both of those.. and there would be no bollards protecting them.... true?

Posted by Alan May, Helping you find your way home. (Coldwell Banker Residential) over 9 years ago

Charlie,

More and more I am seeing a larger diameter pipe in the floor concrete. Then the bollard drops in that. Very strong but the catch is that they never seem to epoxy the bollard into the pipe below. It pulls out smooth as butter. I am sure that, at many houses, first thing occupants do is pull it out.

PS-- I did not know you could still raise your leg high enough to do that.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 9 years ago

Mr Charles,

In my work as a certain-to-be-fried home inspector assistant, do you recommend that I kick the bollards too. I am pretty strong and might wipe out most of them. I am heavy on machisimo as you know. I pride myself on being manly. Advice please.

Nutsy W

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 9 years ago

Alan, too true----that is why I said it is a function of "scale" of the attack:)

Steve, I agree---they should not be "easily" removed.

Nutsy----I just have this to say (and that is not you working the plunger): 

http://www.world-of-smilies.com/html/images/smilies/gewalt/s0250.gif

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

I have to say it's a first for me. I've inspected many a home with the water heater in the garage (makes no sense, given out cold winters), but I've never seen anyone attempt to protect them from inpact.

Posted by Suesan Jenifer Therriault, "Inspecting every purchase as if it were my own". (JTHIS-Professional Home Inspection Team) over 9 years ago

Charles, I've seen them in Florida and noted that the only thing they might protect against is backing into the heater with a tricycle.  

Posted by Jack Gilleland (Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton) over 9 years ago

Suesan, the code isn't all that specific but the IRC says: 

   M1307.3.1 Protection from impact.
   Appliances located in a garage or carport shall be protected from impact by automobiles.

Jack----not the dang kids again:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

In our area we usually put the water heater in a closet therefore not needing a bollard because the strength of the door and wall will stand up to any old car gone wild.  Actually, not seeing the thing that you are not supposed to run into will help keep you from running into it.  Out of sight, out of mind!  Nice blog.

Posted by Barbara S. Duncan, GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR (RE/MAX Advantage) over 9 years ago

Barbara, thanks----sounds like a good practice----putting them in a closet.  I am not sure how the practice of putting them in the garage out here got started----but it is REALLY common.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Charles. Good post. It is amazing how many of these I find that are not secured properly...

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) over 9 years ago

Bollards are even used around bridge pilings here The old Skyway Bridge fell down when hit by a ship, so the new one has bollards around all of the pilings.

Posted by Sharon Simms, St. Petersburg FL - CRS CIPS CLHMS RSPS (Coastal Properties Group International - Christie's International) over 9 years ago

Michael, do you give them a good ole karate kick?

Sharon, yes another excellent location---I wonder why they don't put them outside of "porta-potties":)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Great post Sir Charles. Just one question, who was the 62 yr old who gave the kick, the homebuyer?

Posted by Jim Albano, Team - Jean-Marie Vantuno / Realtors North Jersey Real Estate (Prudential Damiano Realty ) over 9 years ago

Jim I must confess----that would be me:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

I'm cconfused as is often the case...

does it not make more sense that the car would eat the water heater.

O.K. so a kick from a 62 year old seems laughable but to be fair you have been playing soccer for so long they used a 15 pound stone to instead of a ball to kick around. 

Dad I know that youve placed some bolts the easy way on whynoserous (with a gas drill). but it seems funner the old fashion way...  pound pound pound... 1/4 turn pound pound pound 1/4 (repeat).

I cant' believe that nutzy is still alive should Darwin not have taken care of him months ago.

 

Posted by Klee B. Patel over 9 years ago

I have to say no way!! You must have found the fountain of youth!!

Posted by Jim Albano, Team - Jean-Marie Vantuno / Realtors North Jersey Real Estate (Prudential Damiano Realty ) over 9 years ago

Klee, I just figured with the water heater folded around the car like Pacman----it would just like like the water heater ate the car:)----but you may be right. As far as Nutsy goes----it is all but of the "illusion" he calls his life.

Jim, yes way---but thanks for the try:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Here a poor builder is trying to satisfy the code and it is my belief that you are being a bullard bully.  Only a bully would kick a bullard!  They're just for show you know.  My experience anyway...

A friend of mine worked for Esso when they were going about looking to change the name.  Apparently Esso means something not useful, like "stalled car" in Japanese.  They looked for spelling that would not mean anything in any language and found that there were no double XX's  anywhere.  So, EXXON was created!  I think it means, you can't bump our bullard, or something like that.  As Teddy R would say, "Bully!"

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

I am apparently not going to let you live down that bully thing, am I?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay, try this ten times fast:  "Bollocks----the Ballard Bakery's Bulky Bollards Bounced Bodacious Beverly's Blue Bicycle Beautifully!"

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

My reaction exactly...ESSO! You didn't need to tell us your age, you gave it away:) Don't see many bollards out here. We have basements for all those bolardly protected devices.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 9 years ago

Charlie - Interesting!  When you say that fast 10 times, you actually begin to act like Bodacious Beverly!  I should go into another room next time, in case the neighbors see me.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

James, in the rural Upstate New York----near Oswego----there is a little town by the name of Mexico (no clue why it was named that) but there used to be  in Mexico, a Gulf of Mexico:)

Jay------YOU MUST TAKE A PICTURE and share it:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Charles and others, I know what you mean about cold weather.  Sometimes the tempereature actually falls below 60-degrees here in Southern California.  As for those bollards, great post Charles, can't say I've ever been able to kick one over, but I'm going to try harder from now on.

Posted by Joseph Lang, Home Inspector, Southern California (Pillar To Post Professional Home Inspection) over 9 years ago

Joseph, I have this picture in my head of home inspectors all over the country taking karate lessons:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Well done. It’s great to see knowledgeable treatment of this subject that covers the issue without spinning it to death. <a href="http://www.carportempire.com/" title="Steel Carport For Sale">Steel Carport</a>

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Posted by Carport over 8 years ago

Actually...there are bollards that will stop a 2000 pound car at 20 mph...but they are very expensive :P

 

Another option can be found at www.slowstop.com.  They are made to be impact and hold up better than the plain welded base model you show.

Posted by Cynthis about 5 years ago

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