Your drinking water is one of the most important parts of your home, and being able to turn on the tap with confidence and know that you’re getting clean, safe water is important. That’s why taking steps to ensure that backflow prevention is in place is so vital. Backflow can be a serious problem that can lead to major contamination in your water, and understanding the basics of it will be something that anyone needs to pay attention to.
What Is Backflow?
Backflow is a flow of non-potable water heading in an undesirable direction opposite that of the direction it should be flowing in. It can also contain other substances than just water including dirt, debris, chemicals, gasses, and other solids. Essentially, if a flow begins to head backwards in supply lines it can contaminate the lines that feed into your drinking water.
Backflow generally occurs due to cross connections and pressure changes, and there are two main types of backflow that can occur and that may need to be addressed with backflow prevention techniques. These are:
- Backpressure Backflow – This is caused by pressure changes that put higher levels of ‘downstream pressure’ on a line than there is ‘upstream pressure’. In other words, the pressure pushing against the intended flow is higher than the intended flow, which causes water and other substances to flow backwards in the plumbing system. It can be caused by a wide range of issues including pumps, temperature changes, and overuse of water beyond what can be supplied adequately.
- Backsiphonage – This issue occurs when negative pressure builds up in a public water system or in the water system of a homeowner’s house. It’s similar to what happens when you drink through a straw, and usually occurs when problems like a break in a water main or a leak in your water lines occurs.
No matter the cause of backflow, it’s important to take steps for backflow prevention. Failure to do so could lead to contamination with everything from soapy water to chemicals to dirt and debris and more. Good backflow prevention will help keep your water clean and totally safe to drink.
What Is Backflow Prevention?
Backflow prevention is exactly what it sounds like – steps that are taken to prevent a backflow problem from happening at all. There are a couple of ways of controlling and managing this issue. The two most common steps for backflow prevention are:
- Air Gaps – Placing air gaps that eliminate cross-connections and provide a barrier are the most common initial step. These are installed within the lines of the plumbing system at appropriate points and help maintain adequate pressure levels to prevent backflow from occurring. They’re the most common method of backflow prevention.
- Mechanical Devices – There are also backflow prevention devices that create a physical barrier to the backflow instead of just air gaps. These can include a variety of different options including those that reduce pressure, those that break vacuums, and those that use check valve systems to control pressure and avoid backflow entirely. These are important for ensuring total safety in your drinking water.
Determining which option is right for you can be difficult, but by contacting professional plumbers with experience in backflow prevention you’ll be able to rest easy knowing that the appropriate steps are being taken and that your home’s drinking water will be safe. This helps keep your health protected and also gives you peace of mind that you have nothing to worry about where your drinking water is concerned.
Do I Need A Backflow Prevention Device?
The easy answer to this is yes, you do. But not everyone knows whether or not their plumbing system already has a backflow prevention device or air gaps in place. If you’re unsure, contacting the professionals is a very good idea. But, there are a couple of clear signs that backflow may be a problem. These include:
- Minerally, metallic taste
- Sediment in water
- Dirty, cloudy, or off-colored water
- Water that smells
- Water that tastes foul
Additionally, if you’ve never had a professional inspect your system to test for backflow prevention, it’s an excellent idea to have that done as soon as you can. Contaminants can be everything from pesticides from the lawn to household cleaning supplies and beyond, and can lead to serious health issues.
Letting our professionals inspect the home for problems and make sure that you have backflow prevention in place is a must, whether you’re a commercial or residential property owner. It’s a vital step for plumbing that nobody can afford to ignore.