Backflow can be a messy and expensive mess to clean up. Backflow prevention is key to making sure that your plumbing systems are in tip-top shape so that you don’t have to deal with the mess of cleaning up dirty water.
By definition, backflow is the undesirable reversal of the flow of water from the intended direction in any pipeline or plumbing system. This can be quite dangerous because it can allow drinking water in a plumbing system to become contaminated and completely unusable.
What is a backflow prevention system? A backflow preventer is a mechanical plumbing device that is to be installed into a plumbing system that will essentially prevent the water from flowing backward in the system. If this is properly installed, tested, and maintained, the backflow preventer will be efficient and reliable at preventing the backflow of water of an unknown quality from flowing back into the community water reservoir.
Is it really that important to prevent backflow though? The answer to that is absolute. A lot of communities actually require all public water systems to operate on a program to protect the public water supply from any type of contamination due to cross-connections. The most effective way to promote this is by having all customers install a backflow prevention device on the main supply line to their home or facility, which then protects the community water system from any cross-contamination. All water users will only benefit from this.
Testing for backflow on an annual basis helps to ensure that only clean and potable water is flowing through your plumbing systems and into your home or business. There are a number of different backflow preventer devices that can be used. Testing for backflow issues is not a job for someone who doesn’t know anything about plumbing systems. When you need backflow testing, you will want to contact someone in your area who is certified to do so. Most companies can test for backflow within 15-20 minutes using a special device that can measure the water pressure throughout the pipes. Most plumbing companies have this type of technology on hand so that if you realize that you do have a backflow problem, your plumber can handle it quickly and efficiently.
If you need to install a backflow prevention device, how do you know which system to install? There are a couple of types that are different based on what type of hazards there are.
The first type is the reduced pressure zone device, which has a high hazard rating.
This device has two independent non-return valves that are force-loaded to the closed position. A relief valve is positioned between the two and is arranged to be force-loaded to open the atmosphere.
The next type of backflow prevention device is the break tank/ air gap which also has a high hazard rating.
This device has a physical gap which is also an air break, between the lowest water service pipe outlet and any upstream tank, fitting, or container.
We then move on to the testable double check valve which has a hazard rating of medium.
This device is equipped with two independent action non-return valves that are also force-loaded to the closed position. It is then fitted with three test taps for testing every year.