When it comes to protecting outdoor plumbing, the adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” couldn’t apply more. When freezing temperatures are in the forecast, we recommend taking precautions to prevent damage to your pipes and the subsequent flooding.
Protect Your Pipes
It’s easy to protect your exposed pipes and it takes just a few minutes. Place foam insulation around exposed pipes and install special blankets made for backflow devices, both available at your local hardware store or irrigation supply house. If you don’t have this type of insulation on hand, use old towels or blankets and wrap them in plastic secured in place with twine or wire to keep the material dry. Disconnect all garden hoses and drain the water from them before coiling them up.
If your pipes do freeze without cracking or breaking, try to turn on the water faucet slowly. The running water will melt the ice. Do not pour boiling water on frozen pipes as they can burst from the extreme change in temperature.
Protect Your Plants
Don’t stop with outdoor pipes for freeze protection. Frost-tender plants also can suffer from the freezing weather. Protect them by creating tents over the top of the plants with old sheets or tarps. Be careful not to let the material come into contact with the foliage, which will make it freeze. Use long stakes or lodge poles to hold the material away from the plants.
In extreme cases, for tropical plants like bougainvillea, place a trouble light under the sheeting material with a refrigerator bulb with low wattage during the subfreezing temperatures. Make certain that the extension cord is rated for outdoor usage. If frostbite occurs on foliage, do not prune the damaged plant until the frost season is over, typically March. The damaged parts of the plant will protect the leaves underneath.