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 is president of Houstonian Landscape and says that valve 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. 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.”

Suminski says 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. These devices, tons of them around the city, I mean thousands of them, were broken.”

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


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


Laurie Johnson


Laurie is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. Laurie has covered a wide variety of topics for HPM, including the crash of the Space Shuttle Columbia, Hurricanes Katrina and Ike, and numerous elections. She is a frequent contributor to NPR and has been...

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