Bollard Maintenance

Fundamentally, bollards are built to last for a long time. As an essential part of physical security barriers for whole building design, they are also built to endure environmental conditions. However, just like any other equipment, bollards require a minimum level of care and maintenance to prolong its life span. As a general recommendation, bollards need to be inspected and cleaned at least every six months. Depending on the material and the local environment, the following are the maintenance best practices for bollards according to the type of material and finishing.

Inspection

The site safety and security team will need to inspect all bollards every 6 months. Routine inspection will involve identifying damages and other problems as early as possible to avoid further deterioration especially corrosion. During an inspection, personnel may need to perform tightening or replacing loose or missing parts. 

More frequent inspection and attention may be required for bollards located in environments with high-salinity and high-traffic areas as they are more exposed to dust, debris, and other pollutants that can accumulate quickly and cause damage. 

To maximize the life of stainless steel bollards, avoid exposure to saline, chlorides, abrasive chemicals, or carbon steel as these diminish its anti-corrosion properties and increase the risk of damage. For this reason, it is recommended to avoid performing welding, cutting, drilling, or grinding carbon steel near stainless steel bollards as particles can contaminate and lead to rust.

For retractable bollards, it is important to keep the surrounding area between the receiver and bollard free from debris and moisture. Although versatile, these bollards are susceptible to environmental conditions especially oxidation and rusting in high-saline environments as well as de-icing chemicals. Follow the instructions detailed below for cleaning retractable bollards. 

Cleaning

Powder Coated Bollards

Bollards are frequently painted using powder-coating to have a thick, hard finish that is tougher than conventional paints. This type of finishing requires low maintenance. When cleaning powder coated bollards, provide cleaning personnel with a soft nylon brush to remove any accumulated dirt, mild soap or detergent. Wash with mild soap or detergent and quickly rinse the bollards with clean water. Finish cleaning the bollards by wiping dry with a soft cloth.

It is important to instruct the cleaning personnel not to let the cleaning solution dry on the bollard surface. Do not allow cleaning personnel to use abrasive cleaners, brushes, or steel wool to clean powder coated bollards.

Stainless Steel Bollards

Careful instruction should be given to cleaning personnel before cleaning stainless steel bollards. Do not let them use cleaning products containing chlorides or other abrasive chemicals or use abrasive brushes or scouring pads to wipe stainless steel. Instead, advise them to use a soft, lint-free cloth or soft nylon brush.

It is also important to remind them that concrete detergents such as those used in pressure washers should not contact stainless steel. To avoid contact, it is recommended to wrap stainless steel bollards when power washing is being performed nearby. If contact occurs, immediately rinse the concrete detergent away with water. 

When stainless steel bollards have heavy rust deposits, cleaning personnel may use a nylon scouring pad or use only ultra-fine nylon pads and rub with the grain to minimize alteration of stainless steel finishes. 

It is not recommended to clean stainless steel in direct sunlight or excessive temperatures. As a best practice, cleaning personnel should use clean gloves when handling stainless steel bollards.

Retractable Bollards

Routine maintenance of retractable bollards needs to be done every 3 months. When cleaning retractable bollards, the most crucial point is to keep the surface surrounding the receiver and bollard free from debris, moisture, and rust. Site safety and security manager will need to review the following instructions before allowing cleaning personnel to clean retractable bollards:

  • Only allow cleaning personnel to use a broom to remove sand, gravel, or debris. Do not let them move the broom over the flange collar and cap of the bollard. Instruct cleaning personnel to brush away dirt and debris in an outward motion. The retractable bollard will stop functioning properly if sand and debris fall through the small gaps. If this happens, remove the bollard and use a vacuum to extract the dirt.
  • Allow cleaning personnel to use a rag to wipe the retractable bollard and remove any debris on the bollard body and flange collar. Ask the cleaning personnel to look for signs of rust or staining.
  • To ensure the retractable bollard will continue to glide smoothly in and out of the receiver, it is recommended to use an all-purpose lubricant, such as WD-40. Apply the lubricant with a rag to the entire surface of the bollard. Wipe away all residue. 
  • At this stage, the all-purpose lubricant may also be used to remove rust as soon as possible. To avoid scratching the surface of the bollard, cleaning personnel should only use a synthetic scouring pad and carefully scrub sideways (lateral motion). Once the rust is removed, wipe away all residue. 
  • Cleaning personnel will also need to lubricate the lock every three months. Instruct them to apply a generous amount of the lubricant to the keyhole. Lubricating regularly will protect the lock and maintain its function smoothly.

It is highly recommended to lubricate the sheave, plunger, and plunger hole regularly. Apply a generous amount of assembly grease, such as spray grease to the locking mechanism. Depending on site conditions, more frequent lubrication should be done to retractable bollards installed in areas that experience extremely warm or wet conditions.

Plastic Bollard Covers

Every 6 months, clean bollard plastic covers with soap and water. After washing,  rinse in clean water and wipe dry. Instruct the cleaning personnel not to let the cleaning solution dry on the surface of plastic bollard covers.

Grafitti Removal

Remove graffiti on any type of bollard by using biodegradable graffiti-cleaning spray or wipe. Do not let cleaning personnel use knives and other hard scraping tools, as these may damage stainless steel surfaces and the bollard cover.

Stain Removal

To remove stains on stainless steel bollards, use hydrocarbon solvents such as denatured alcohol which are also called methylated spirit, isopropyl alcohol or acetone. Apply solvent several times with a clean, non-scratching cloth until all marks are removed.

For heavy tarnishes, use domestic metal polish or chrome polish. Treat the entire stainless steel surface to avoid having discolored patches.

To remove stains on plastic bollard covers, use an abrasive cleaner with dishwashing soap. If stains remain, use a household item called magic erasers such as  Mr. Clean Magic Eraser bar or Scotch Brite Erasing pad. These have melamine foam which is water-activated and can dig into surface grooves and destroy stains, grease, and soap scum.

Rectifying Minor Damages

Powder Coated Bollards

Repair minor scrapes and scratches in powder-coated bollards using an enamel topcoat. Gently scuff the damaged surface and surrounding area using sandpaper.  While doing this, minimize scuffing to undamaged coating by using, for example, the end of a pencil to narrow the sandpaper. Ensure all signs of rust are removed. 

Apply an exterior metal primer to scuffed areas, making sure to seal all exposed metal surfaces. Once the primer has set, apply matching color enamel to the primed areas. Note that attaining the exact color match may not be possible. When dealing with large scratches or other surface abrasions, re-coating or replacement may be the best option.

Stainless Steel Bollards

With proper maintenance and care, stainless steel should not corrode. Contamination of stainless steel bollards can happen if contact with iron/carbon steel happens. To rectify, apply a solution of oxalic acid to the surface using a soft cloth and leave on for a few minutes. Rinse thoroughly with clean water.

If signs of corrosion appear, clean the stainless steel bollards immediately. Minor corrosion can be rectified using an all-purpose lubricant or domestic stainless steel cleaner containing calcium carbonate or citric acid. Rinse thoroughly with clean water.

When dealing with tougher corrosion, use phosphoric acid-based stainless steel cleaners normally available at a hardware or home improvement store. Spread evenly over the surface, of the stainless steel bollards and wait 30-60 minutes. Next, neutralize the acid with an alkaline cleaner. Rinse thoroughly with clean water.

Repair and Replacement of Heavily Damaged Bollards

Powder Coated Bollards

Structural compromises such as visible dents, cracks, breaks, and rusts can undermine the integrity of powder-coated bollards. These types of heavy damages need to be removed as soon as possible to prevent further damage. However, heavily damaged bollards need to be replaced and removed from service. 

Stainless Steel Bollards

It is best to contact a professional service provider to repair stainless steel bollards that are severely corroded. The professional can recommend a pickling bath with highly corrosive hydrofluoric acid and then passivized the stainless steel with mild nitric acid.

Contact the manufacturer of the stainless bollards to replace broken or missing parts.

Plastic Bollard Covers

Remove plastic bollard covers from service if it has structural compromises such as visible dents, cracks, breaks, and rust as these damaged covers will only undermine the integrity of a bollard. Contact the manufacturer to get immediate replacements.