Brrr… Cold Weather Is On The Way!
The cold wet weather is here! Scroll down to view our tips on what you need to do to prepare your home and garden before the freeze.
Freezing temperatures don’t happen too often in Houston, but when they do, it’s important to prepare! Taking the time to prepare your home and yard for the freeze could save you hundreds of dollars on burst pipes and plant replacement.
PREPARE YOUR SPRINKLER SYSTEM
Our irrigation systems are simply not made to withstand multiple days below freezing-however by properly draining your back flow and depressurizing the sprinkler lines, we can limit the damage. There are so many variables that can cause one residents irrigation to freeze and the next door neighbors not to freeze, the biggest being is your backflow preventer (the bell on the side of your home) being exposed to the north.
Take these steps to properly winterize your irrigation system:
- Turn off the shut-off valve – On most residential backflow devices, there are two shut-off valves. These are typically covered in blue rubber and are located before and after the actual backflow device.
- Release the water pressure – Now that you have shut off the water valve, you must release the water that is in the device so that it doesn’t expand when it freezes and crack the device. With a flat head screwdriver, loosen the two bleeder valves (#3 and #4 as illustrated). The bleeder valves are usually located just under the plastic top of the backflow. Sometimes, they have rubber inserts you have to remove before you can see the flathead screw. When opening these, be aware that the water will spew out for a few seconds and your hands will get wet. NOTE: If the water doesn’t stop spitting out after a couple minutes, you haven’t fully turned off the water in step 1.
- Leave the smaller bleeder valves open – This will allow the water to expand and freeze without being hindered and causing damage.
- Insulate your Backflow – At almost all home improvements stores, they carry backflow preventer insulation materials.
COVER YOUR PLANTS
It’s important to keep your plants out of harm’s way when a frost arrives by covering them with with a planket or similar plant cover. Plankets work with bushes, plant beds and potted plants. Its thick polypropylene material is strong but also light and breathable. Plankets, or similar covers, can be cut to fit a variety of sized plants. Some even come with grommets so you can stake them down for stability.
Be sure to remove the sheets and blanket and plastic first thing in the morning after an overnight cold snap. If you do not do so, condensation can build up and freeze again under the covering, which will damage the your plants.
Watering the soil (not the leaves or stems of the plants) will also help the soil retain heat and can help the plant’s roots and lower branches survive.
WRAP YOUR EXPOSED HOSE BIBS & PIPES
Frozen pipes are one of the biggest property damage risks when the temperature drops. When water freezes inside a pipe, it expands and can burst pipes and cause extensive damage.
Use these tips to prevent your pipes from freezing:
- Drain water from garden hoses. The water inside a garden hose can freeze and back up into the spigot until it reaches your pipes.
- Wrap exposed hose bibs (or pipe) with insulators like a foam pipe sleeve or a outdoor sock faucet cover.