Backflow Preventers

What is a backflow preventer?

If your asking this question then you obviously need a crash course on what a backflow device is as it could save your life some day. Backflow preventers are overlooked in most cases because of the lack of knowledge about their need and what they do. Backflow preventers are commonly a plumbing code requirement in most all up to date jurisdictions. The need for backflow preventers hinges on the need for safe drinking water for all public humanity. The use of these devices along with the annual testing of them where applicable can protect the public water supply from becoming poisoned by contaminants that could make someone dangerously ill or even cause death.

The annual testing of these devices is very important because it insures the probability that the device is functioning properly in order to protect the public water supply. Although there are many forms of backflow prevention that are not testable they still exist in every persons home as we speak. That is if we as humans don’t by-pass these safety measures provided. One example of a non testable backflow preventer is an Air Gap which is simply the space between the end of a faucet where the water comes out and the point at which the water would overflow onto the floor if you filled the fixture that the faucet serves. This is a common backflow device that is implemented in every house around the world.

The way this device works is really simple and has no need to test annually. The air space between the faucet outlet and the possible level that the sink or fixture could overflow creates an area of free space or air at which the possibly contaminated sink water could never be siphoned back into the faucet. Thanks to gravity this can’t happen. This cannot happen because the sink water cannot travel though the air without being under pressure and physically get into the faucet if it were open and had no water pressure at the same time. An example of this would be if there was a water main break on your street.  This would result in a loss of water pressure to the entire house and at the same time create a siphoning effect at the faucet, possibly sucking up any nastiness that was in the sink water. That nastiness could get into your water piping within the house. The next time you turn on your faucet to get a drink of water it contains this nasty contaminated water that is all of a sudden in your drinking glass. Drink up!

Another backflow prevention device that some residences have is located where the water supply in a residence ties into an irrigation system. If you have an irrigation system for your lawn then you may be aware of such a device as it should be tested annually and the results will be forwarded to the local authorities having jurisdiction so they can make sure the device is working properly to prevent lawn fertilizer from being in contact with your drinking water. These devices are usually kept track of by your local health department.

You may think this wouldn’t happen to you but it is an unfortunate circumstance that does happen to people and it is unexpected when it does. This is why the plumbing industry has plumbing codes that they follow in order to protect the public drinking water. As I stated before, the only way one of these safeguards can be by-passed is by human intervention. Sometimes this can be done unintentionally by adding a hose to the faucet outlet or some other means of by-passing the air space between the two points as discussed earlier. If this happens then there is a possibility of contaminating your water within your own house and in extreme circumstances you could contaminate the water all the way to the water main in the street.

There are many different types of backflow preventers in place especially in commercial buildings where the possibility of contamination is more prevalent because of constant usage more so than in a residential setting. These devices are among the ones that should be tested annually to eliminate the possibility of contamination to the buildings water or the public water in the water main outside of the building. In order to test these devices you must have knowledge of their mechanical workings and be a licensed backflow tester by the state or locality in which they are located. Flow-Rite Plumbing has licensed backflow testers in Ohio and Kentucky. 

Call today for a quote on your backflow testing needs! (513) 383-4242

As always…Why be Wrong?….When you can Flow-Rite!