Backflow Prevention is a serious matter. When Your Water Backs Up, It’s Time to Look Out.
Backflow is a reversal in water or sewage direction caused by a reversal in water pressure. Whether it’s water or sewage that backs up, contamination occurs. Backflow can occur and be confined to your own property or stem from problems with the city water supply. If left unchecked, the results can be harmful to your health.
At A-1 Sewer & Drain Plumbing & Water Heaters, we are backflow testing and prevention specialists… ready to assist you 7 days a week in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Williamsburg, Yorktown, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Tabb, Grafton, Smithfield, James City County, and throughout Hampton Roads..
First, let’s see how backflow typically occurs:
- A break in a city water line can cause polluted water and other contaminants to enter the city water supply.
- Line flushing and firefighting can produce the same harmful result.
- Water systems that are supplied by wells or come in contact with untreated and contaminated streams or ponds also create potential backflow hazards.
- A toilet flush valve without an anti-siphon device can permit toilet odors, vapors and worse to get into household plumbing and the water you drink.
- If a garden hose is used to clean out sewer lines or rain gutter downspouts, a drop in pressure can cause contamination from those sources to be drawn back into your water supply.
- Similarly, water being used to fill a swimming pool can be drawn back into the water supply during pressure drops, bringing contamination with it.
- If an insecticide attachment is used on a garden hose, backflow can cause potentially lethal contamination of water supplies.
That’s why A-1 Sewer & Drain offers you our professional backflow testing and prevention services; namely, to help protect your family’s or employee’s drinking water by blocking contaminants from entering your home or business.
A1 Sewer & Drain Back Flow Prevention
Having access to a clean supply of fresh water is important for everyone’s health. In most cities, municipal water lines bring this supply of clean water to businesses and residents throughout the area. It must be protected against the risk of backflow originating from wastewater systems.
Clean water is also referred to as potable water. The municipal water lines use a pressurized system to move potable water from a primary location through a network of pipes. Eventually, this clean water reaches each of the businesses and homes located within city limits.
What Is Backflow?
Backflow occurs when dirty water travels through plumbing pipes in the wrong direction. Instead of waste water flowing normally, it does the exact opposite. When backflow occurs, the waste water makes its way through the pipes intended for potable water. Instead of flowing out through the sewer lines, the dirty water flows into the pipes contaminating the contained clean water. Backflow occurs at the points where pipes for potable and non-potable water meet.
Dirty water can contain any number of contaminants, depending on its source. In particular, dirty water is often polluted with one or more of the following substances: feces, soap, cosmetics, chemicals, pesticides, paints, fertilizers, medications, and other harmful substances. Dirty water is a health hazard. If it gets into a potable water supply, it can cause serious harm to many people.
Importance of Back flow Prevention
The importance of backflow prevention should never be understated. When waste water flows through the pipes and travels in the wrong direction, it can contaminate the entire supply of potable water for a specific location or for the whole city.
Most cities have municipal codes in place that require certain types of businesses to install a backflow preventer. In general, food establishments, public areas, apartment buildings, condominiums, and commercial buildings must install this kind of device.
A backflow prevention device should be installed at every point involving a cross-connection between the water supply and the plumbing equipment designed to handle waste water.
What Is a Backflow Prevention Device?
The purpose of a backflow prevention device is to keep potable water free of contaminants. It is designed to physically prevent non-potable water from getting into the public supply of clean water. A typical backflow prevention device is quite simple. It has two mechanical check values that make it impossible for dirty water to escape into the supply of clean water. Of course, the preventer must be properly installed and serviced in order to operate correctly.
Ordinary Backflow Prevention Strategies
Many of today’s ordinary plumbing fixtures come with backflow protection devices or strategies. Typically, the safety measure involves a simple distancing of the faucet and the area where waste water sits. For example, the spout in a tub or sink sits up so high that waste water can never reach it. Appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines, refrigerators, and toilets also have a built-in protection strategy to prevent waste water from flowing into pipes designed for potable water.
Testable and Non Testable Backflow Prevention Devices
The level of risk of having a backflow incident determines which type of backflow prevention device is installed. Two different kinds of backflow preventers exist. One type is testable, and the other kind is not.
Choosing between Testable and Non Testable Devices
While standard plumbing fixtures come with a safety default, certain types of equipment need a specialized device to safeguard against the possibility of a backflow disaster. Any piece of equipment that requires a direct connection to the public water system in order to operate is going to need a backflow protection device.
Testable backflow preventers are also known as testable assemblies, backflow assemblies, and backflow prevention assemblies. This type of preventer is installed when the risk of cross contamination is high and likely to cause extensive harm. Annual inspections are required, and necessary repairs to the backflow prevention assemblies must be handled immediately.
Testable backflow preventers must be installed in the following equipment:
• Residential in-ground irrigation systems
• Commercial in-ground irrigation systems
• Commercial boilers
• Commercial water treatment systems
• Cooling towers
• Commercial fire sprinklers
• Laboratory equipment
• Medical equipment
• Processing plant equipment• Vehicle washing facilities
Non Testable Devices
Non-testable backflow preventers are also known as backflow prevention devices, backflow devices, and non-testable backflow devices. This style is most commonly used when the danger of backflow is less serious. Even though this style of device is often rated for five years, it needs to be inspected on an annual basis.
Non-testable backflow preventers can be used on each of the following pieces of equipment:
• Residential boilers
• Residential fire sprinklers
• Residential humidifiers
• Residential hose bibbs
• Hand-held shower heads
• Food service equipment
• Beverage dispensers
• Commercial ice makers• Emergency eye wash stations
Backflow Prevention Inspections and Testing
Testing of your backflow prevention device should take place at least once every twelve months to make sure that it is functioning properly. It is important to bring in an experienced plumber to conduct the inspection and testing of your device.
Each of the valves must be evaluated to determine whether or not they are operating correctly. You need someone who is knowledgeable about backflow prevention devices to perform these tasks. The process itself does not take long, but it does require a certain level of expertise. Once you know that your system is functioning properly, you can rest easy.
Most cities require this type of testing on an annual basis. It is the city’s job to protect the public supply of potable water, and your job to safeguard your access to it. Fines can occur if you don’t comply with the rules.
What Causes a Backflow to Happen?
Several circumstances can cause a backflow to occur. They include:
• Broken distribution pipe
• Broken water main
• Widespread power outage
• Disruption of the pressure within the water system
• Plumbing repairs requiring draining of the building’s water• Extensive use of water to put out a fire
Backflow Prevention Repairs
Although preventers are designed to last for many years, daily wear and tear can cause their components to fail. If a part becomes damaged or worn out, your backflow device may not operate properly. Backflow can occur, and contamination to the freshwater supply is inevitable. Annual inspections and testing are designed to catch problems before they cause the prevention system to fail. An experienced professional with the proper training has the skills needed to inspect, test, and repair backflow prevention devices.
Once wastewater enters a user’s home or business, it is possible for it to become contaminated with chemicals, bacteria, or other substances. If it backflows into the public supply of potable water, the damage can spread throughout the city. Qualified plumbers have the training needed to conduct annual testing, repairs, replacements, and new installations of backflow devices. They even take care of necessary permits and certifications for each task.
Properly working backflow prevention devices are essential components of homes and businesses. They help to keep your supply of potable water uncontaminated. Be sure to schedule your annual inspection and keep your supply of fresh water properly protected. Take the steps needed to certify your backflow device.