Taking the necessary steps to prevent backflow is not only required by law, it is crucial for your own health and safety. When you are setting up your plumbing system it is important to know about the dangers of backflow and what you can do to put a stop to it. Installing and regularly testing an approved backflow prevention device is the only answer to preventing contamination of your drinking water supply. Before you have your device installed it is a good idea to understand how backflow works and what prevention tools can do to stop it so that you know your device is working properly.
What Causes Backflow
Whenever there is a change in pressure in your water supply it can result in an undesirable reversal of water flow known as backflow. The reason backflow is considered so dangerous is that it can bring contaminants such as toxic chemicals and bacteria into a clean, potable water supply. Changes in pressure causing backflow can be a condition such as negative or sub-atmospheric pressure in supply piping caused by under-sized pipes or pipeline breaks. It can also be caused by higher pressure downstream generated by pumps, thermal expansion and elevation. Backflow occurs through a cross-connection that is unprotected and allows sources of water other than a potable supply to flow through the system. When contaminants enter the potable water supply they can be accidentally consumed by the public leading to serious illnesses and in some cases even death. Any kind of backflow has a high potential for the existence of lethal chemicals and the spread of disease.
How a Backflow Prevention Device Can Help
Because of the dangers inherent in backflow, many areas require the installation and annual testing of a backflow prevention device. Since there will always be cross-connections in existence and thus the potential for backflow to occur, a device must be in place to stop the reversal of water flow and contamination. Backflow prevention devices and assemblies can serve to stop the reversal of flow any time there is a change in pressure. They can be installed at the source of potential contamination to ensure that there is no possibility of contaminated water entering a potable water supply. A backflow preventer works by allowing water to flow in only one direction, the intended direction of the water supply and when there is no water supply present it automatically shuts down so that the other downstream supply cannot pass through the connection and cause contamination. If more pressure is coming from the wrong side of the valve it will automatically close and shut off water flow. With the use of a backflow prevention device, water supplies will only flow in the direction they are intended to and it is impossible for the flow to reverse direction.
Maintaining a Clean Water Supply
With the installation of a backflow prevention assembly, you will always have a tool that can keep your water supply clean and safe from contamination. An approved backflow preventer that is installed correctly can work effectively to completely stop backflow. Over time, however, these devices can wear down or malfunction so it is imperative that they are regularly tested to make sure that they are working correctly. An annual test is usually required by law because backflow is always a potential threat to a clean water supply. Even though backflow is major danger when it comes to your plumbing system, installing a backflow prevention device and getting it tested every year will keep your water safe so that you will never have to worry about contamination.