Not only is dealing with backflow a nuisance, it can also be a great danger to your health. If you are not familiar with the term backflow then you should understand how much of a threat it can be to the safety of your water supply. Backflow can happen at any time and contaminate your clean drinking water resulting in serious illness. When water flow reverses through a cross-connection it can bring in all kinds of chemicals and bacteria that enter the potable water supply. To prevent any kind of issues of backflow it is necessary to have some form of backflow prevention installed that can be tested regularly. This is the only way to take action against any possible contamination of your water due to backflow.
Reasons for Backflow
Backflow can occur either because of a problem with backpressure or back-siphonage. Backpressure usually means that a customer’s plumbing system has a higher level of pressure than that of the water distribution system. When this difference in pressure happens, backflow and contamination become a problem as a result. Back-siphonage happens when the pressure in the water distribution system falls below the pressure of the system it is supplying. Whatever causes the changes in pressure, it can lead the water flow to reverse from the customer’s system back into the water distribution system. The reversed flow can happen through a cross-connection between potable and non-potable water. Any type of plumbing system that has such a cross-connection can be in danger of contamination. Chemicals like pesticides, herbicides and anti-freeze or even bacteria from sewagecan enter the water supply through a cross-connection.
Backflow Prevention Methods
In order to stop backflow before it happens, you need to have a system in place that will stop the reversed flow of water through a connection in your plumbing system. You can do this with either an air gap or a backflow prevention assembly. Air gaps are a more simplistic way to separate the connection that can lead to a contamination. These devices are effective but are not always practical in every situation. A backflow assembly can be a more reliable but complex tool that prevents backflow. A backflow prevention device needs to be testable so that you always know it is working correctly. Some of the older methods of backflow prevention like swing check valves, dual check valves and atmospheric vacuum breakers are not testable making them a less reliable choice for adequate water safety.
Testing a backflow device is one of the most important parts of taking action against possible contamination. You can have a backflow device tested when it is first installed to make sure it works but over time parts of the device can erode or need repair. Instead of just installing the assembly and forgetting about backflow, you need to keep it in mind as a potential danger should anything happen to the device. Backflow preventers should be tested annually and immediately after any type of repair work or maintenance by a certified backflow tester. A backflow prevention assembly that repeatedly fails its test will have to be replaced with a new one.
While installing a backflow preventer is the best thing you can do to avoid contamination of your water, backflow is still an ever present danger. Being active against the possibility of backflow occurring by getting annual testing is the only solution to keeping your water safe at all times. Getting your backflow prevention device tested will help ease any worries about your plumbing system and allow you to rest assured that your water supply is clean and free of contamination.