How To Protect Your Sprinkler System From A Freeze

An installed sprinkler system frequently gets overlooked in a freeze and can cause a lot of problems if not protected.

Houses with installed sprinkler systems are more common than they were even a decade ago. But many people don’t know those sprinkler systems have a PVB, or pressure vacuum breaker, that needs to be prepped before a freeze.

Bart Suminski, president of Houstonian Landscape, said the valve on the breaker stores water, and when it freezes, it expands and can literally blow its top.

“These lines are pressurized lines, so there’s constant water in these lines,” Suminski said. “What is vulnerable is the top part, the brass part; the water goes actually through there and water actually sits in there. So when you turn these valve handles, there’s water that’s in between the two valve handles.”


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Suminski said it takes a really hard freeze to bust the valve, but when it does happen, homeowners suddenly find water gushing into their yards.

“Two years ago we had two years in a row where we had a really hard freeze,” he said. “These devices, tons of them around the city, I mean thousands of them, were broken.”

Suminski said it only takes a few steps to weatherize a sprinkler system and it doesn’t require a professional.

Below is a step-by-step video tutorial on how to protect and prepare a sprinkler/irrigation system vacuum breaker for a freeze:

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Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Executive Producer for News

Laurie Johnson leads daily news coverage for HPM. She helps reporters craft and sharpen their stories on tight deadlines, with the aim of getting the most relevant and current information into local newscasts. Laurie is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. She is...

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