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What is backflow?

Backflow is the undesirable reversal of flow of nonpotable (non-drinking quality) water, or other substances, through a cross-connection and into the piping of a public water system or consumer’s potable water system. There are two types of backflow—back pressure backflow and back siphonage.
These two types of backflow each result from differences in pressure between the system and the supply. Backpressure backflow comes from a higher system pressure, which may be the result of a number of different causes, including thermal expansion. Back siphonage is the opposite, stemming from a lower system pressure, when a supply is interrupted.

How serious is backflow?

Whether you are facing back pressure or back siphnoage, the problems that can result can become a major health hazard. The level of risk is broken down into five different categories, each representing an increasingly high level of health risk. Category 1 backflow is normal drinking water, and poses no risk, whereas category 5 backflow may contain human waste and is a serious risk. Keeping your backflow preventer in good working condition is the only way to keep your water as safe as possible.

What is a backflow preventer?

A backflow preventer is a means or mechanism to prevent backflow. The basic means of preventing backflow is an air gap, which either eliminates a cross-connection or provides a barrier to backflow. The basic mechanism for preventing backflow is a mechanical backflow preventer, which provides a physical barrier to backflow. The principal types of mechanical backflow preventer are the reduced-pressure principle assembly, the pressure vacuum breaker assembly, and the double check valve assembly. A secondary type of mechanical backflow preventer is the residential dual check valve.

What happens if my backflow prevention device does not pass the test?

Since they are so crucial to protecting public health, backflow prevention devices are tested carefully to make sure they are in perfect working condition. There are a large number of codes which buildings are required to adhere to. These codes vary from city to city, and can be confusing to the average building owner, and so it is of the utmost importance that a qualified professional is hired to ensure that your equipment is functioning properly.

If your device does not pass the test, the trained professionals from 123 Backflow Testing have the know-how to service your backflow prevention device—on site and at a moments notice. Our professionals work quickly and effectively, minimizing inconvenience.

Does my water get interrupted during one of these tests?

In order to properly service your backflow preventer, water service will need to be interrupted for five to ten minutes in most cases. Rarely, it will take a bit longer than this, but only if more serious issues are found.

How often do I have to test my backflow prevention device?

Backflow prevention devices need to be tested annually, at a minimum. In addition to this baseline services, the device will need to be tested whenever it has been serviced for any reason, and immediately after it has been installed.

Why is it that my backflow preventer has to be tested so often?

Mechanical backflow preventers have internal seals, springs, and moving parts that are subject to fouling, wear, or fatigue, all of which can wear these devices down so they function less effectively. Mechanical backflow preventers that utilize air gaps can be bypassed. Therefore, all backflow preventers have to be tested periodically to ensure that they are up to snuff. A visual check of air gaps is sufficient, but mechanical backflow preventers have to be tested with properly calibrated gauge equipment

Why do water suppliers need to control cross-connections and protect their public water systems against backflow?

Backflow into a public water system can pollute or contaminate the water in that system (i.e., backflow into a public water system can make the water in that system unusable or unsafe to drink), and each water supplier has a responsibility to provide water that is usable and safe to drink under all foreseeable circumstances. Furthermore, consumers generally have absolute faith that water delivered to them through a public water system is always safe to drink. For these reasons, each water supplier must take reasonable precautions to protect its public water system against backflow.