What is Backflow Testing?

If you are on city water, your plumbing is connected to the water supply of all your neighbors in your town. Keeping that water clean and healthy is a top priority for everyone, which is why backflow devices are often required. Backflow prevention is key to ensuring that toxins from your home and property do not go back into the community water, helping protect against contamination. Using a backflow prevention device and having backflow testing are part of ensuring safe water for you and your neighbors.

Backflow devices, referred to as RPZ or Reduced Pressure Zone devices, ensure that if something causes a change of pressure in your plumbing, it does not result in backflow into the main water pipe or supply. A leak in your plumbing, use of hydrants for fires, boiler problems or other issues can cause a pressure difference that sucks water from your plumbing into the main line. RPZ devices protect against this from occurring, stopping contaminated water with bacteria, minerals and chemicals from your property from entering the water supply.

Annual Backflow Testing

If you are required to have a RPZ due to a boiler, irrigation system or hydrant on your property, the device needs to be regularly tested for quality. Many municipalities or states require backflow testing at least once a year to ensure the RPZ will work if a water pressure fluctuation occurs. This testing needs to be preformed by a licensed plumber and you may need to submit the results to avoid fines or penalties in your area.

Clean, healthy water is important to everyone. If you have a backflow device at your home or business, make sure you schedule annual backflow testing to protect your local water supply.

Posted on behalf of:
Kiddco Plumbing, Inc.
106-M Oakgrove Road
Sterling, VA 20166
(703) 435-4441

Backflow Preventers

Domestic water lines that service commercial and residential buildings allow water to enter into the buildings by relying on water pressure to move the water.  In times of low water pressure it would be possible for water to run away from the building and into the locality’s water pipes.  Backflow preventers, which act as a one-way valve, stop this from happening and are required by the applicable building and plumbing codes to be used in a variety of residential can commercial applications.

The reason that they are required is to prevent the public water supply from being contaminated by the reversal of water into the public water system.  Contaminated water is taken very seriously by all jurisdictions and in addition to heavy fines, many jurisdictions will also shut off the water supply to the building ,if it is discovered that the water supply is being contaminated as a result of a backflow issue.

Backflow preventers are pretty complex mechanical devices and require periodic inspections and testing, which are required by law in most jurisdictions, as well as periodic maintenance. Inspections and backflow testing are done by experienced and trained technicians using sophisticated measuring devices to verify that the backflow preventer is working properly.

In the event that an issue is discovered the technician will make the necessary repairs.  There are a number of backflow preventers on the market today, all of which have many moving parts and components.  As a result periodic maintenance is required to keep them functioning properly, while protecting the public water system that we all rely on!

Posted on Behalf of Citywide Plumbing

Backflow Preventer Testing

The backflow of contaminated or polluted water into the drinkable water supply is prevented by a specially designed assembly. Back pressure, from numerous possible sources such as water pumps, boilers, heat exchangers or power washers (to name a few) can force undesirable contaminants to enter into piping that supplies drinking water. To reduce this risk, a backflow preventer can be installed. Because of the potential for health hazards on a broad scale, such systems, particularly in commercial or industrial settings where potentially toxic chemicals are used, need frequent testing.   In some locations, annual backflow testing is mandated by logal authorities.

As a preventive measure, some health regulations require an air gap or backflow prevention mechanism between the delivery point of water and its use or storage to protect the drinking water system from contamination hazards. Most backflow assemblies have test cocks and shut-off valves that must be tested when installed. They also need to be tested again if relocated or repaired, and also on a periodic basis. The EPA holds local water suppliers responsible for maintaining a certain amount of purity in drinking water systems while many municipalities also require annual testing. In most cases, the law requires an air gap or double check device when backflow prevention is mandated.

All testing is done under no-flow water conditions so home owners, commercial and industrial operations, as well as hospital and continuous process industries must be well informed in order to plan and coordinate water shut downs. Test personnel follow local municipal, county and state testing requirements and guidelines as dictated by local authorities.

Field testing exists for pressure principle backflow preventers; pressure vacuum breakers; and, double check valve assemblies. Of primary concern is that the internal shut-off valves remain tight and leak free under various degrees of applied pressure. 

Backflow Testing Protects Our Drinking Water

Many Loudoun County residences and businesses are required by law to have an approved backflow prevention device installed in their water supply system.  If you are required to have a backflow prevention device installed at your home or business, you are also required to have it tested annually.

A backflow prevention device is a mechanism that is designed to protect our public drinking water supplies from contamination.  Installation of a backflow prevention device at your home or business can help prevent accidental contamination of the water in your home and in every other home or business connected to the municipal water system.

Contamination of the water supply can occur whenever the normal direction of water flow in the municipal water supply is disrupted.  Normally, your water utility pumps water through the water main and into your home or business.  It flows through your faucets, toilets, shower heads, and other appliances and fixtures and then into your sewer line or septic system.  Under normal circumstances, contamination of the water supply is not a concern because the water flows from the water company through the water mains into your home and then into the sewer or septic system.

However, if the water pressure at the utility drops due to a broken water main, unusually high demand, or some other reason, the water can flow backwards from your home or business into the public water main.  When this happens, it is possible that the water supply is contaminated by chemicals from a sprinkler system or from an industrial or other business application.  This may sound unlikely, but every year there are thousands of instances of public water contamination due to backflow problems.

A backflow prevention device prevents these problems from occurring.    Many Loudoun County plumbers are certified to test, repair and install backflow prevention devices.  Help protect the water supply and avoid potential fines by having your backflow prevention device tested as required.

What Do Backflow Prevention Devices Do?

A backflow prevention device is a common method of protecting our drinking water supplies from contamination.  Not all water authorities require backflow prevention devices, but if you live in an area where backflow prevention devices are required by local municipal codes, it is important to understand what role they serve and how to keep your backflow prevention device in good working order.

In general there are two types of municipal water supply systems:  open systems and closed system.  A typical municipal water supply system supplies water to homes and businesses through water supply lines connected to the municipal water main. Most of the time, the water pressure coming from the water supply is much higher than the water pressure in the home so water flows from the supply into the home.

However, under certain circumstances such as a broken water main or some other event that causes the municipal water pressure to drop, water can flow backwards from a home or business into the water supply.  A water system that can flow in either direction is called an open system.

In a closed system, a backflow prevention device prevents water from flowing backwards from the home or business into the water supply lines and helps protect the water supply from contamination.  In a home, water in irrigation sprinkler systems can become contaminated by pesticides and fertilizer.  In addition, if the home has an automatic pool filling device, the water can become contaminated with chlorine and other pool chemicals.

Backflow prevention devices can only do their job if they are regularly tested by a knowledgeable plumber.  Where backflow prevention devices are required by local ordinance, backflow testing is often required by law.  Even if it is not required by law, it is good practice to have your backflow prevention device tested annually.

Backflow Prevention Information

Backflow occurs when water flows from a residence or business backwards into the public water supply.  Municipal potable water systems are designed to flow in one direction – from the municipal water supply to the customer which includes residences, businesses, and any facility that is connected to the municipal water supply.  In certain circumstances, this flow can be reversed and potentially contaminated water can flow into the municipal potable water supply.

Backflow can occur if the water pressure inside the home exceeds the pressure in the municipal water supply due to an increase in the pressure in the home or a decrease in municipal water pressure.  Decreases in potable water supply pressure can occur due to a broken water supply line, firefighters using the water to extinguish a blaze or some other reason.

The danger posed by backflow is that the water flowing into the water supply is contaminated.  For example, a sprinkler system could be contaminated by common lawn fertilizers and pesticides which could backflow into the municipal potable water supply.

Many local governments and water authorities try to guard against backflow by requiring that customers install a backflow prevention device.  Not all local authorities require backflow prevention devices.  In some locales only businesses are required to have backflow prevention devices.  In other areas they are required for businesses and for homes that have a sprinkler system or automatic pool filling system.

If your Orlando home or business is required to have a backflow prevention device, and experienced Orlando plumber can handle the backflow installation and repair. In addition,  regular backflow testing is important to keep your backflow preventer in good working order.  You should have the device tested annually by a good local Orlando plumber or more often if required by local law.

Backflow Testing Keeps Drinking Water Safe

Fertilizer. Fire protection chemicals. Pool chemicals. Weed killer. These are among the toxins that can make their way back into your drinking water at home, which is why backflow testing is required by many municipalities.

Water is at risk of flowing backward and into the water system – which contaminates your drinking water — when the pressure in a water system isn’t maintained. Backflow testing helps prevent that.

Water systems are designed so that the water flows in only one direction, thanks in part to water pressure. Water pressure is what keeps the stream flowing from the water supply to your home. However, the water, could potentially change direction if the water pressure in the water supply system loses strength. Water in sprinkler systems, fire suppression systems, pool water feed systems, and other sources could flow backwards into the water supply lines.  When the water pressure is restored this contaminated water could wind up in the drinking water of your home.

A backflow prevention device keeps dirty or contaminated water from flowing backward into the water supply.  There are two types of common backflow devices: an air gap and a check valve. An air gap connects to your plumbing system from your water storage area; a check valve forces the water to flow in only one direction, thereby keeping it out of your home.

Water can actually flow backward when the water pressure is low. That’s why many municipalities require yearly backflow testing by a certified agency and are required to have a backflow prevention program in place to check for water purity.  Annual backflow testing ensures your backflow prevention devices are working properly and helps protect the potable water supply.