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Backflow is quite annoying, especially when you’re a new homeowner.

They are usually a problem that comes uninvited and unannounced, taking you by surprise and leaving you clueless. However, several ways exist to prevent this and keep your plumbing system healthy.

Before diving into the preventive measures, let’s understand what backflow is.

What Is Backflow?

Plumber Repairing Backflow Device

As the name suggests, backflow occurs when the water flows backwards rather than in the correct direction it’s supposed to flow. Generally, backflow is a lot worse than any other drainage problem.

For instance, rather than flowing out of your toilet, sink, or other fixtures, dirty water flows back into your bathroom drainage, potentially contaminating your home’s water supply with harmful substances. Several factors, including cross-contamination in the drainage system, can cause backflow.

Cross-contamination takes place whenever there is contamination between clean and dirty water. Most home drainage systems have a backflow prevention system installed to prevent backflow problems.

Other reasons may result in backflow within your plumbing system besides cross-contamination. Let’s take a look at a few.

Causes Of Backflow Problems

1. Damaged Backflow Prevention Systems

As mentioned above, most homes have appropriate backflow prevention devices installed in their plumbing system. Where these backflow devices are damaged, there is a possibility of cross-contamination. This is more likely if the prevention device is installed within the fixture, which is common with plumbing fixtures.

2. Low Water Pressure

Have you noticed a drop in water pressure? There is a set water pressure level that has to be maintained within the drain pipes. When this level drops, it heightens the chances of cross-contamination between clean and dirty water. Keeping the water pressure steady and regulated can prevent backflow problems from occurring. Low water pressure can also result in back syphoning, where the water is almost vacuumed through the system.

Types Of Prevention Devices

To avoid potential backflow problems, you must install prevention devices. These devices are not just optional; in residential properties with features like an irrigation system or large boilers, they are necessary. However, if you need one, it’s best to start by understanding what each type of backflow preventer does. The various types of backflow preventers are as follows:

1. Air Gaps

An air gap, a form of physical separation, is typically the space between the water outlet of different plumbing fixtures and the flood level. They are a simple and effective method to ensure the potable water supply remains uncontaminated by preventing back pressure.

2. Pressure Vacuum Breaker (PVB)

PVBs are commonly used in systems where back pressure is a risk, doing a great job of keeping contaminated water from affecting your clean water supply.

3. Double Check Valve Assembly

A double-check valve assembly consists of two separate check valves placed in strategic locations within the drainage system. They are an excellent method to prevent both backflow and back siphonage, ensuring the water flows in the right direction.

4. Reduced Pressure Zone Device (RPZ)

An RPZ consists of two spring-loaded check valves, two shut-off valves, and three vertical test cocks. They are typically used in conditions where water pressure drops are frequent and in areas where there is no interruption in meter service, ensuring the water system functions properly.

Testing For Backflow Issues

Red Blue Commercial Backflow Device

Testing for backflow issues is essential to maintaining your home’s plumbing systems. Though several test methods exist, a backflow test kit is the most common. The test kit comes with all the tools and instructions necessary.

If you don’t own a backflow testing kit, here is a simple way to test for the same. But before you begin, shut off all water supply systems. Proceed to the fixture with the problem and determine whether it’s a reduced pressure device or a double-check valve system. Generally, all information regarding the direction of water flow will be mentioned on the fixture itself.

Use numbered test cocks and attach them to the valves after shutting them off. If you own a test kit hose, attaching them to the valve will help. To test the fixture, turn on the water supply lines and inspect them for any signs. If the relief valve does not open as water passes, it must be replaced similarly if the water places the whole valve assembly.

Preventive if the water pressure increases

Backflow is cumbersome to deal with and requires intense repairs and replacements. To prevent this, regular maintenance of your plumbing fixtures is recommended. Here are some ways you can maintain your plumbing and avoid backflow.

For all the garden hose connections, ensure they have a backflow prevention device. Apart from the device, ensure that the garden hose does not form puddles that contaminate the entire hose.

Air gaps are crucial for most devices, so ensure enough air space is left after plumbing. If you use water filters, change them frequently. Overusing a single water filter can result in severe contamination due to the growth of bacteria and other harmful viruses.

Keep Your Plumbing Clean With These Essential Backflow Prevention Tips!

Backflow issues are as common as they are frustrating. However, avoiding them is easy, with regular maintenance and simple cleaning. If you have backflow problems that are too severe, contacting a professional will be the best.

For emergency services, contact our experts at WP Plumbing, who offer same-day services at fixed and fair prices. In addition to reliable testing and installation, our licensed Melbourne plumbers can also repair and maintain your devices.

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