All modern homes are equipped with both water and sewage lines. The water lines bring fresh water into the home, while the sewer lines take wastewater out for treatment at a municipal facility. Unfortunately, there are many points, even in a well-designed plumbing system, where things can go wrong, and these two systems can interact in unexpected ways. That’s where backflow preventers come in.
What Is Backflow
Backflow is contaminated water that flows the wrong way through the plumbing system to re-enter the home, usually as a result of increased pressure on the wastewater side or decreased pressure on the freshwater side. The contaminated water brought back into the home via backflow is dangerous. It often contains harmful bacteria, chemicals, and other pollutants, which can be introduced into the home’s freshwater to cause potentially serious health and safety complications.
What Causes Backflow
Backflow occurs for one of two reasons: back-siphonage or backpressure. Back-siphonage is caused by pressure fluctuations or a loss of water pressure, both of which can reverse the direction of the siphonage naturally occurring in sewer lines. There are several issues that can create perfect conditions for back-siphonage, but the most common of them are water main breaks and sudden large water draws, as from a fire hydrant.
Backpressure occurs when the household’s water pressure exceeds the city’s water pressure. It is often attributed to pumps, but it can be caused by other issues, especially in taller buildings. Determining the likelihood of backpressure causing problems under normal operations requires consideration of factors like how high a given column of water is and how much it weighs. In most cases, it’s best to install a backflow preventer that can stop both backpressure and back-siphonage from occurring regardless of risk.
What Is a Backflow Preventer
They accomplish this goal using a mechanical assembly of rubber checks, springs, and valves that stop backflow from occurring, even when the conditions are right for this problem.
They can be installed in both residential homes & commercial businesses.
Backflow Preventer Installation
Only licensed plumbers can install backflow prevention systems. In most cases, these systems must be installed by master plumbers with specialized certifications. The easiest way to tell if a home needs a backflow preventer is to call a plumber with expertise in the area and schedule a consultation. Home Comfort Services can help.
Backflow Preventer Inspections
Backflow Testing must be performed each time the system is repaired or replaced, or once per year if nothing goes wrong. Only certified backflow testers are allowed to perform this work, so make sure the company chosen to perform the inspection has expertise in the area.
Here’s a rough idea of what the inspection will entail:
- Inspection of all backflow devices
- Site evaluation to ensure that no conditions will compromise the system’s performance
- Inspection of the control valves
- Performance differential testing
- Updating of device tags and records
- Customer education on how the equipment operates
Backflow preventer inspections are quick and convenient, taking most technicians just 15 to 30 minutes, so there’s no excuse for ignoring this essential maintenance task.
Backflow Preventer Repairs
If any issues arise during testing, they must be addressed as quickly as possible by a specialist certified to perform backflow repairs. Depending on the problem, the technician may replace one or more parts or, if the device is severely compromised, recommend a full replacement. Technicians who are certified to perform backflow repairs can also install new backflow preventer devices.
The Dangers of Ignoring Backflow
Some homeowners may be tempted to ignore the risks associated with backflow, but that’s a mistake. If the water from the sewer lines backs up into the home’s freshwater lines, it can introduce all kinds of pathogens and other dangerous contaminants into the drinking water. It’s not just one home that will be affected, either. Households that are tied into municipal water grids can wind up experiencing backflow even when things go wrong in other parts of the system.
The Bottom Line
Backflow Preventers Testing and Repair can only be performed by professionals who have undergone extensive training and exams. Inspections need to be performed annually and repairs should be made as needed depending on the results of those inspections. Home Comfort Services can help. Visit their website to learn how or call us to schedule an appointment.