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Freezing Pipes

Cold weather and wind chills can happen quickly. This means homeowners can expect frozen water pipes and water damage if exposed areas aren’t properly insulated or if homeowners aren’t careful about winter heating or winterizing your irrigation system. Here are some problem areas, warning signals and tips to minimize the chance of freezing water pipes.

Winterizing your sprinkler system and the pressure vacuum breaker (PVB) valve

There are four steps to winterizing your sprinkler system:

  1. Turn off the water to the sprinkler system in your home.
  2. Go outside to the vacuum breaker, open the test cocks and set the ball valves to a 45 degree angle.
  3. Open the valve box drain, open the valve or open the valve by running the sprinkler clock manually.
  4. Go back downstairs and open the drain nipple to drain the water from the pipe.

For more detailed instruction, view one of the videos below.

How to Protect a Sprinkler System Before a Sudden Freeze – No Time to Blow Out The System

Winterizing your PVB

Problem Areas

  • Pipes near broken or open basement windows
  • Unheated crawl spaces and equipment rooms
  • Pipes near the foundation or cracks in the basement wall
  • Pipes near exterior wall in unheated room  
  • Pipes under kitchen sinks or cupboards

Warning Signs of a Freeze

  • Unusually cold water temperature, less than 35 degrees fahrenheit, at any fixture
  • Unusually low water flow at a fixture
  • Discolored water at a fixture
  • Low water pressure at a fixture
  • Extremely cold piping at a fixture
  • Sputtering sound when opening a fixture
  • No water at all

Thawing Frozen Pipes

  • The safest approach is to use hot air from a hair dryer or a portable heater.
  • Use heat tape, but with caution and following the manufacturer’s instructions explicitly.


  • Check water temperature and run a little water if unusually cold
  • Shut off and drain outside water faucets before freezing occurs
  • Run a slight drip in faucets on outside walls and open cabinets/doors to heat areas susceptible to freezing
  • Insulate walls near exposed piping
  • Repair cold air leaks to reduce drafts on piping and meter