Backflow Prevention Tips For Homeowners
Get our expert plumbers best tips of preventing backflow issues in your home. Find out the common causes of backflow problems, backflow testing methods and the types of devices you can install!
Backflow is quite annoying to deal with, 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.
As the name suggests, backflow occurs when the water flows backwards rather than in the direction it’s supposed to flow. Generally, backflow is a lot worse than any other drainage problem. For instance, rather than the dirty water flowing out of your toilet, sink, or other fixtures, it flows back into your bathroom drainage.
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 prevention valve 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.
As mentioned above, most homes have some sort of appropriate backflow prevention devices installed in their plumbing system. Where these devices are damaged, it can result in a higher possibility of cross-contamination. This is more likely if the prevention device is installed within the fixture, which is quite common with modern-day plumbing fixtures.
Have you noticed a drop in water pressure? There is a set amount of 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.
To avoid backflow issues, you must install prevention devices. They are optional in most residential areas unless there is an irrigation system or a large boiler. However, if you need one, it’s best to start by understanding what each type of prevention device does.
The various types of prevention devices are as follows:
Air gaps are typically the space between different plumbing fixtures’ water outlets and the flood level. They can help regulate water pressure and are popular backflow prevention devices.
PVBs are commonly used in irrigation systems and do a great job keeping dirty water from contaminating clean water.
A double-check valve, or double-check valve assembly, consists of two separate valves placed in various places within the drainage system. They are the best method to prevent backflow and even back siphonage.
An RPZ consists of two spring-loaded check valves, two shut-off valves, and three vertical test cocks. They are typically used in freezing conditions and in areas where there is no interruption in metre service.
Testing for backflow is not that complicated. Though there are several test methods, the most common testing method is a backflow test kit. 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, make sure you shut off all water supply system. Proceed to the fixture with the problem, and determine whether it’s a reduced pressure device or 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. Now to test the fixture, turn on the water supply lines and inspect for any signs. If the relief valve does not open as water passes through, it must be replaced. Similarly, if the water pressure increases, you must replace the whole valve assembly.
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 some type of backflow prevention device. Apart from the device, ensure that the garden hose does not form puddles that ultimately 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, ensure that you change them frequently. Overusing a single water filter can result in severe contamination due to the growth of bacteria and other harmful viruses.
Backflow issues are as common as they are frustrating. However, avoiding them is rather 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 providing reliable testing and installation, our licensed Melbourne plumbers can also provide repairs and maintenance for your devices.
Don’t let leaking pipes ruin your day - or your wallet. With these five essential tips, homeowners can prevent plumbing mishaps and keep their pipes in top condition.
Confused whether you should call a licensed plumber or do it yourself? Join us as we discuss the pros and cons of DIY plumbing and when you should call a professional.
Your backflow preventer is important to protect your water supply from contamination. It works by preventing the reverse flow of water from a contaminated source into the clean water supply. Find out more here!