A hard freeze is a temperature under 30° for over eight hours. When water freezes, it expands. When the freeze ends, the result can be broken pipes, no water, a big repair bill, and the cost for the lost water. Those are not the only expenses and sources of aggravation. You may also have to replace carpet, flooring, sheetrock, furniture, and other possessions. Those are the immediate issues, but there can be latent damage as well. With galvanized pipe, the pipe may not burst, but expansion can occur separating the galvanizing from the pipe and creating an area for corrosion to start and ultimately create leaks.
During Winter Storm Uri, one of the more vulnerable spots for leaks and bursts was the irrigation systems on residential homes. Below are some basic tips as well as pictures and instructions for irrigation backflow preventers; additionally, residents are always encouraged to consult with an irrigation specialist or plumber.
The irrigation shut-off valves and backflow devices are one of the common issues that most residents deal with during an extended freeze.
- Turn off the shut-off valve. Most residential devices have two shut-off valves. These are typically covered in blue on the valve handles and located before and after the backflow device.
- Release the water pressure, with a screwdriver release the water from the bleeder valves. The bleeder valves are usually located under the top of the backflow device. If the water does not stop flowing you may have not shut the valves off completely.
- Leave the smaller bleeder valve open, this will let the any remaining water in the line expand without breaking the device.
- Insulate your backflow device. Most hardware / home services stores carry backflow insulating supplies.
Attached are pictures of the actual device and insulation covers for backflow devices and faucets.