Is It Time for Your Annual Backflow Testing?

Backflow preventers help to ensure the safety of drinking water by stopping contaminants such as weed killers, fire protection chemicals, common household and industrial cleaning products from co-mingling with clean water. These devices are installed in restaurants, apartment buildings, condos, doctor’s and dentist’s offices and public buildings of all types. Wherever there is a fire suppression system, industrial boiler or irrigation system there should be a mechanism that prevents backflow.  Many homes have a RPZ (reduced pressure zone) assembly too.

Causes of Backflow

Backflow happens when the water pressure at a home of business is higher than the pressure in the main water system. This situation can let unclean water in. Firefighters battling a blaze, a water main break or a commercial boiler operating at a pressure higher than the main water system are some conditions that can trigger this situation. With a backflow preventer in place, if the water pressure drops, the valve on it opens to dump dirty water out rather than allow it into the potable water system.

Types of Backflow Preventers

City code requires that backflow preventers be inspected annually. By federal law, water fountains refrigerators and ice boxes are required to have preventers. Since they are part of a structure’s plumbing system, a plumber who is a certified backflowassembly tester can do the examination. Reduced pressure (RP), double-check valve (DC), double-check detector check (DCDA), reduced-pressure principle detector (RPDA) and pressure-vacuum breaker are types of backflow preventers that must be tested. Air gaps and atmospheric-vacuum breakers are non-testable mechanisms. The type of assembly you have depends on the potential dangers your installation presents to your structure and the area’s water system. Plumbers can install, certify and maintain any of these devices.

Once you have had an inspection, your plumber or utility company will remind you when your next inspection is due. They will also make sure that you have the proper documentation regarding the inspection to show to the city.

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