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Old 06-10-2011, 11:06 AM
 
53 posts, read 136,710 times
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Default Protecting sprinkler and hose bibs from freezing

OK, not the typical thing to ask on the Las Vegas forum when it's 100 degrees outside, but just doing some maintenance items for my parents while in town...

What's the key checklist of tasks protect the sprinkler system from winter freezing temps? I'm based in California now, and never had a big yard when I lived out East.

A couple of key questions triggered this:
-We just had a plumber fix the leaking anti-siphon backflow preventer (aka vacuum breaker) for the sprinkler system. It's a fairly new neighborhood and every home has one (a Febco 765), the neighbor's one is identically leaking and I think it's all damage from freezing. I downloaded Febco's draining procedures for freeze protection - so every year you must drain it completely, blow compressed air through it, and not use the sprinklers all winter? Sounds simpler just to let it freeze and replace the parts every spring.
-The previous owner instaleld those styrofoam covers that go over the hose bibs, that I think insulate from freezing temps. However, the hose bibs stick out of the wall a bit too much and the cover doesn't go flush against the wall. Would wrapping the 1-2" of copper pipe exposed where it is coming straight out of the stucco be important? There is not much of an overhang from the eaves on the roof.
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Old 06-10-2011, 11:22 AM
 
Location: Kingman AZ
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you could do that....i could to ....but its too much trouble lol.....I never do anything and have no problems but mosdt poeple seem to think you should do something
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Old 06-10-2011, 11:48 AM
 
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I had my vacuum breaker freeze this past winter. What I have done now is to wrap the whole piping, including the copper stub coming out of the stucco, with plenty of insulating foam and reflective tape (summer sun hurts the pvc pipe). When temperatures go down to freezing, I will also put a cover over the whole vaccuum breaker assembly with plenty of insulation to protect it from the cold but also the harsh winds that boost the cooling effect. I don't have an internal shutoff valve, sadly, so I cannot easily drain the sprinkler lines.
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Old 06-10-2011, 12:11 PM
 
Location: NW Las Vegas - Lone Mountain
15,758 posts, read 19,193,132 times
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In general sprinkler systems are in use here year round. So you never drain them. You may cut down to weekly or biweekly but you never stop if you don't want to lose things.

There are special boxes made to insulate the vacuum breaker setups. Star has them. Mine in simple wrapped in a couple of layers of insulating tape.

I don't do anything about the hose bibs. I have never lost one. There are styrofoam covers with an internal bungee to hold them on.

If faced with a bitter cold night you might also play the well known defense of leaving a little water running. YOu can do that both on the sprinkler system and in the house.
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Old 06-10-2011, 01:16 PM
 
Location: Silicon Valley
2,400 posts, read 3,830,470 times
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With regards to freeze damage, I only worry about large amounts of exposed PVC pipe. My mister system (or rather, the pipe feeding it) actually burst one year because there was about two feet of exposed PVC between the ground and the shut-off valve. The pipe burst at a point between the two. Now it is wrapped with pipe insulation. The other spot where I have exposed PVC is at the anti-siphon valve. Both legs are wrapped with foam insulation as well. I don't worry about hose bibs at all, mine don't stick out at all, and the pipes run through an insulated wall, right next to a heated space. Pool has lots of exposed plumbing, but during the coldest months I run the pump at the lowest speed for a few hours during the coldest part of the early morning.
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Old 06-10-2011, 01:33 PM
 
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
11,253 posts, read 18,737,663 times
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I put the styrofoam covers on my hose bibs, but doubt if they are really necessary. Better safe than sorry. If the pipe sticks out too far you could just cut a small length of styrofoam pipe cover and slip it on. If in a windy location you might want to tape it, but they tape won't last long. You can leave them year round if you want. I think direct sun in summer is just about as bad as cold in winter on those hose bibs.

Wrap the anti siphon valve with the silver tape and insulation you can buy at Home Depot, but that's not always enough, especially since the tape always comes loose. I've had them freeze anyway. So go to Star and see if they have a cover made to fit yours. Take measurements of it before you go because they come in various sizes. Naturally I couldn't find one to fit as plumbers don't always install them in a convenient way, so I've used different things, from a gunny sack under a cardboard box, to a plastic recycle bin. My wife loved that one, but it was perfect fit and the pipe didn't freeze.
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