Line Freeze Prevention

I have a backflow device that is installed above ground, immediatley after the water meter, and it is exposed to extreme (cold) temperatures. Besides the age-old suggestion of leaving the water drip on nights where the temperature drops well below freezing, is there a better prevention solution to ensuring this length of pipe that is above ground does not freeze? I have it wrapped in insulation and it is always covered by the “fake rock” cover, but is there a better solution in case I forget to drip the water, or if the temps drop without me knowing?

Any ideas?

@RandyJ331, just to clarify, it sounds like your backflow is installed out in the yard and there’s no shutoff valve/drain? Here’s a typically installation of a backflow:

Ideally, you’ll have a drain installed. If you cannot do this, your options are limited to the exposed pipe you have access to. Have you considered installing heat tape?

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You didn’t say how far “well below freezing” it goes, or where you live. Obviously different solutions for different climates.

In Chicago, where you expect the ground to freeze solid, you shut off water to the entire system from inside the house, completely disassemble the back-flow preventor and store it inside. You also drain each line, and hire someone with a large compressor to blow them out with compressed air.

Failure to do any of those steps result in expensive repairs come spring-time.


Sorry for the lack of info provided. I live in Tennessee, and our “cold” temps range to maybe 5-10deg F. It’s not often we go further than that. I should also mention this house was just recently purchased from a previous owner who had the piping designed the way he did. My system is like this:

Public line —> Water meter —> Exposed backflow preventer valve —> House/Cutoff Main —> Sprinkler Cutoff —> 2nd backflow preventer —> Sprinkler system.

I have a main cutoff that will stop water to the entire property just inside the house. Then the line splits to the house and the sprinkler system and I have a separate valve which falls after that and will cutoff water to just the entire sprinkler system. The problem is with the first backflow valve that was installed immediately after the water meter out in the yard. I still don’t understand why there was a need for two backflow valves other than the fact there is a slight (5/100ft) incline in the front yard up to the house from the street/public line. The heat tape will need to have a permanent extension cord run (buried) out to this exposed section of pipe and then plugged in, or turned on, as needed?

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@RandyJ331, thanks for the added detail. That is an interesting setup.

Yes, ideally. Heat tape is usually kept plugged in during the winter months as it will automatically turn on based on temperature. Do you happen to have a street lamp near the exposed backflow preventer valve that you could plug into? I haven’t seen any solar heat tape solutions on the market yet, but looks like someone has played around with the idea :wink:

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