Every winter it seems that we get a cold snap. Whether an extreme event like February of 2021 or just a normal dip into the 20s it pays to be prepared.
Your hose bibbs are very vulnerable to freezing. They get some warmth from the walls of your house and the warmth of the pipe leading to them. If the water in them freezes it can expand and cause them to break.
Inexpensive foam covers that attach to the knob on the bibb can be purchased at any hardware stor. This is a very simple way to help protect them. Make sure you buy these before cold weather sets in. They may not be available when everyone rushes to the store to buy them. In a pinch the hose bibb can be wrapped in a towel or blanket.
If you have a valve that separately turns off your hose bibbs that can be a good way to protect them. Remember though that turning off the water is only the first step. There will still be water left in them. If your plumber installed a valve to open up the system to the air you may be able to blow them out with a compressor.
If you have any exposed pipes its a good idea to ensure they are insulated too. Just like hose bibbs any water in the pipe can freeze, expand and cause the pipe to burst.
Low cost pipe insulation can be bought at the hardware store to protect them. The sample above has glue that helps with installation. If you can’t find this type a little duck tape will do (because duck tape fixes everything).
Sprinkler systems can be shut off and drained so that there isn’t water in them to freeze. Typically a valve will be placed in the water supply box where the system connects. There may be other boxes put in by the installer to make it easier for them to run the lines. You should shut this valve off once winter temperatures arrive.
Shutting off the water is just the first step. Your installer should have put low point drains in your system so that you can let out all the water that is sitting in the pipes. Opening these drains will allow the water to run out.
Finally, you can use compressed air to blow out the pipes. This will ensure that it is completely clear.
Here is an excellent article on WikiHow that shows how to do this https://www.wikihow.com/Winterize-a-Sprinkler-System
After a period of freezing it is a good idea to walk around your house and property to ensure that no damage to your pipes has occurred. You should certainly do this if you know that a pipe was frozen during the event. You might be surprised to know that many residents don’t realize that they have a break until 10,000 or more gallons of water has been lost!