Most common mistake Houstonians make when preparing home for cold weather

HOUSTON – Many are now dealing with the aftermath of the cold weather, especially plumbers who now say they have their work cut out for them.

Now, plumbers are hoping the information below will serve useful to others.

Q: What is the most problematic area that homeowners mishandle?

A: Backflow preventers seem to to be the most problematic culprits of unexpected mishaps after prolonged freezing weather in Houston. 

"Every one is worried about plants, pets and pipes and they are wrapping them, but not doing the full job of covering them up," said Bo Burke a plumber with S & B Plumbing.

Burke said Wednesday that he had already replaced about 50 backflow preventers.

Q: What can you do?

A: While many people believe that turning off the sprinkler system is enough to protect their system from freezing, not draining the backflow preventer will cause many headaches.

"Shut off the two valves and open the test ports a quarter of a turn, and (that will drain) the unit," Burke said.

You can also make sure to insulate the head of the backflow preventer with insulation materials that you can get at any hardware store.

Q: What if I forget?

A: The water in the pipes may freeze, causing the pipes to burst.

"The plastic parts within the backflow preventers are what's freezing and breaking," Burke said.


Q: How much will it cost to repair or replace?

A: Anywhere from $200-$400, depending on the condition of your system and what parts may need replacing. 

"The repair job I did today was $225. If we had to replace this whole unit (this customer) could have been looking at $350," Burke said.