Key Backflow Testing Terms

Below we will define some key terms used while discussing backflow. If you own a commercial property in Los Angeles County it is required by law to have annual backflow prevention tests to ensure backflow is not occurring in your potable water supply. It is important to understand some of the terminology used when discussing backflow.

Backflow is any unwanted flow of used water, or other substances from any domestic, industrial, or institutional piping system back into the clean water distribution system. Under these conditions the direction of the flow is in the opposite direction of the normal flow. The two causes of backflow are backsiphonage and backpressure.

Backsiphonage is backflow caused by negative pressure in a portion of the clean water distribution system or the clean water supply piping. When a clean water pressure drops to below atmospheric, ambient pressure in the clean water distribution system, water in elevated water columns or building piping will flow in the reverse direction. If a cross-connection exists in the area where the reverse flow is taking place, contaminants can be spread.

Backpressure can potentially cause backflow to occur when a clean water system is connected to a nonpotable supply operating under a higher pressure than the clean water distribution system. This is usually due to the use of a pump, boiler, elevation difference, or air or steam pressure. Unlike with backsiphonage, it is not necessary to have a drop in the pressure in the clean water distribution system for backflow to occur. Whenever the pressure at the point of a cross-connection exceeds the pressure of the distribution system, the direction of flow will reverse. When this happens there is a high risk that contaminated water will enter your clean water supply.

Having a backflow test performed by a certified backflow tester is required by law for all commercial and some residential properties in LA County. If you are in need of backflow testing or repair, Simply Backflow is here to help! Give us a call today!

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