How to Winterize a Backflow Device

Backflow Device

Las Vegas doesn’t usually get cold winters, but occasionally we do get a freeze. Failing to winterize a backflow device can cause severe damage to your plumbing, home, and any water features you have installed in your yard. Learn how to winterize your backflow devices and where to turn for help if you’re not sure what to do.

What Is a Backflow Device?

Rather than invading your potable or city’s water supply, a backflow device keeps water flowing in the direction it’s supposed to go. Most water features and home systems produce wastewater. This can contaminate drinking water if something goes wrong — such as a sudden drop in water pressure in plumbing lines. Most importantly, backflow devices are required by law in the state of Nevada. 

What Is Winterizing?

Winterizing means protecting your backflow device against freezing in the winter. When your pipes freeze, pressure changes can cause wastewater to flow the wrong way. Winterizing ensures frozen lines remain open and keep the water flowing in the right direction.

Why Winterizing Is Important

It is important to be prepared for an unexpected freeze in Vegas. Beyond flowing backward, when water freezes in your pipes, it also expands. This can be catastrophic. Your lines could rupture or explode, which could cause damage to your landscaping or home. The damage from a bursting pipe can cost tens of thousands of dollars. That’s why winterizing matters.

pipe backflow

Winterizing Your Backflow: Step by Step

The three basic types of winterizing for a backflow system are the manual drain valve method, the automatic drain valve method, and the blowout method. The first few steps to winterize your device are the same across all three. First, shut off the water supply to the system at the main shutoff valve. Next, shut down the controller, whether it’s automatic or manual. Automatic controllers can be set to off or rain mode, while manual ones must be unplugged.

Next, drain the water from your system and remove the backflow preventer. Store it somewhere safe. You shouldn’t need it in the winter because you won’t be running the system and have water flowing. Simply disconnect the connectors and put them in a safe place. If you don’t have union connectors in place, you may need to call in the pros to cut out the device and install connectors for the future.

man checking pipes

Contact the professionals if you’re not sure whether you have a manual, automatic, or blowout drain. For manual valves, open the test cocks, drain the water, and ensure the check valves are raised. For automated methods, activate the pressure station to get the valves pumping. If you have a blowout, you’ll need eye protection and equipment like air compressors to blast air through the pipes for drainage. After draining, insulate your system to keep moisture from freezing.

If you’re still unsure of how to properly drain and winterize your water features, contact Centerpoint Landscaping or give us a call today!

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