Protect your pipes now before the freeze hits

By Jennifer Nations, Water Resource Coordinator

With sustained freezing temperatures in our forecast, it’s time for a quick chemistry lesson.

Water expands when freezing, so any water left in pipes such as sprinkler systems can freeze, expand, and — POW! — create a big, messy water leak. With that in mind, College Station Water Services has some precautions to help protect your water pipes and irrigation system.

Before the freeze

  • Disconnect and drain garden hoses from outside faucets to allow water to drain from the pipe so an overnight freeze doesn’t damage the faucet or the pipe.
  • Find the isolation valve for your sprinkler system and use that to turn off the water to the sprinkler system. Then, drain water from any above-ground backflow prevention devices
  • Insulate exposed outside pipes or faucets in unheated areas with Styrofoam cover, rags, or paper. Also wrap or cover exposed PVC pipes and above-ground backflow preventers.
  • Be sure your irrigation controller is set to off and leave it in that position. If the controller isn’t turned off, it will run.
  • Pay particular attention to exposed backflow prevention devices. These can cause significant leaks if they freeze, often in the form of water geysers shooting several feet in the air.
  • Find your master water shutoff valve and make sure everyone in your household knows where it’s located. The valve is typically near your meter between it and your home.

During the freeze

  • Don’t run your irrigation system during freezing weather. If your sprinkler controller is not in the off position, it will run. Running them during a freeze is also against city ordinance.
  • Be cautious about unplugging your controller; some controllers will lose all programming and revert to default mode when plugged back in, which means it will water every day.
  • Irrigation runoff onto streets and sidewalks can freeze and pose a hazard to drivers and pedestrians. That’s another city ordinance violation – not just during freezing conditions, but any time.
  • Seriously, it’s February – if your irrigation system is still running in auto mode, it needs to be turned off anyway.

If you suspect a water leak, report it to College Station Utilities’ 855-528-4278 and have your account number ready. For more information, contact me at 979-764-6223 or

About the Blogger

Jennifer Nations has been the City of College Station’s water resource coordinator since 1999 after serving two years as BVSWMA’s environmental compliance officer. She’s also chair of the Water Conservation and Reuse Division for the Texas Section of the American Water Works Association. A native of Fremont, Calif., Jennifer earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental & resource science from UC-Davis in 1995 and a master’s degree in water management & hydrologic science from Texas A&M in 2016.


If you found value in this blog post, please share it with your social network and friends!