Benefits of Installing Backflow Prevention Devices at Home

6 Mar

Everybody needs access to clean drinking water. Backflow prevention devices help to safeguard against the risk of backflow, and in the process, prevent the contamination of your water supply from germs and other pollutants. There are different types of backflow preventers that can be installed by professional plumbers to ensure that your family has access to clean and safe drinking water.

Backflow typically happens when the normal pressure in a pipe drops, allowing contaminated water to get sucked in the opposite direction than the water typically flows. Some of the issues that may cause pressure in the pipe to drop include burst or frozen pipes, as well as excessive use of water in the structure at a specific time. The polluted water that enters the pipe may come from different sources, including sewage, the ground, or water storage.

Although the municipal system uses an industrial backflow preventer to protect the water supply for the community, every home should have its own backflow preventer to stop wastewater from contaminating the fresh line. Contaminated water has an unpleasant smell and taste, which is a potentially serious unhygienic situation that, if not resolved with urgency, can adversely affect your and your family’s health and wellbeing.

Types of Backflow Prevention Devices

There are many different types of devices that can be used to prevent the backflow of water. Although the end result is the same, these devices apply different mechanisms to prevent backflow.

Here are some of the common backflow prevention methods, devices, and assemblies:

1. Air Gap

These are very common and highly effective at preventing backflow. They work by providing a physical break between the water source and the container that it is running into. Air gaps are typically built into residential sinks installed in the kitchen and bathrooms, as well as showers, bathtubs, dishwashers, and washing machines in order to protect the water supply. Avoid placing a water pipe on the end of your faucet, as this nullifies the effect of the air gap, which means that content from the sink or another device could be drawn back into the water supply.

2. Hose bib vacuum breaker

Most taps outside the house are fitted with hose bibs so the owner can attach a garden hose to wash the car, water the garden or lawn, and do other chores that require water. Modern hoses come with a built-in vacuum breaker to prevent backflow. But older homes may not have an outside tap, which means that they should be protected with a hose-bib vacuum breaker. The vacuum breaker should stay connected to the hose bib to prevent back-siphonage due to loss of water pressure.

3. Pressure vacuum breakers

These are the newest testable backflow prevention devices, and are mostly used with underground sprinkler systems to safeguard against back-siphonage. They feature a check valve within the assembly to protect against a drop in pressure. The spring positioned at the top of the assembly opens an inlet valve to let air into the system, break the siphon effect, and allow water to flow downstream and exit the piping. Many laws require underground sprinkler systems to be fitted with pressure vacuum breakers, and to test them frequently to ensure proper function.

4. Dual check valves

These are typically used on residential properties to help prevent backflow from unprotected cross connections in your residential plumbing. Although many laws don’t accept dual check valves as part of a cross connection control program because of their limited use, homeowners who use them must take the necessary measures to minimize the damage that may result from thermal expansion. If your pipes are fitted with this device, you should contact your water supplier for advice on the best way to prevent this.

5. Double check valves

These offer good protection for low hazards — not harmful to human health — such as vineyards, breweries, and food services. Since most internal water pipes are protected with built-in air gaps, these devices are not very common in homes. But if they are installed, they should be tested annually by a licensed, professional plumber to ensure proper function.

6. Automatic flood gate valve

These devices are highly effective for stopping wastewater and any associated damage. They work on air pressure and are fully automatic. Once closed, a stainless steel knife edge steps backwater completely for as long as is needed.

7. Reasons to Install a Backflow Prevention Device

There’re a few benefits associated with the installation and maintenance of backflow preventers, including:

  • Keeping pollutants — germs, bacteria, organic waste, and harmful chemicals — out of the water supply, which in turn makes the water look and taste clean
  • Ensuring that water is safe for drinking and other uses
  • Avoiding the discomfort and inconvenience of having to go without clean water for a few hours or even days until the repairs are made
  • Preventing health issues arising from the consumption of contaminated water and a polluted environment
  • Protecting your water and sewer system from expensive repairs resulting from the damage of pipework and entry of foreign materials
  • Allowing you to install a custom solution that protects you from specific threats
  • Compliance with the legal requirements in areas where the installation of backflow preventers is mandatory   

Although many homeowners may not know how a backflow device works, they’re aware of their importance in their home’s water and plumbing systems. If you notice impurities in your water, or suspect that your water system has been compromised, you should contact a professional plumber for a thorough inspection or to upgrade your backflow prevention device.

Some older homes do not have backflow preventers, which puts everyone living there at risk. Once you discover that your property does not have a backflow prevention device, you should also contact a professional plumber. Proper installation and maintenance of these devices is a crucial part of your home’s safety and sanitation. To learn more about backflow prevention devices and installing one in your home, call Brothers Plumbing at (416) 656-6717 or contact us here.

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