Leonardo Da Vinci said, “Water is the driving force of all nature.”
The water that we drink or use has a significant impact on our health. According to WHO, eighty per cent of the diseases recorded worldwide are waterborne. We cannot afford to risk the water we consume daily.
Water backflow is dangerous in your main water supply and could cause complications and contaminated water. Does that name ring a bell?
Don’t fret if it doesn’t. We’ve covered you with our informational article if you don’t know anything about backflow and contaminated water.
We’ll touch on everything you need to know, from basics to installing a backflow prevention device in your plumbing systems. Let’s get started then, shall we?
What Is Backflow?
The water flow in your home or business property is unidirectional and only flows in one direction. Clean supply enters from one side and leaves through the other, and this movement is carried out by maintaining a uniform pressure.
If the pipeline experiences pressure fluctuations, the used water might mix with the clean one. This flowing back and mixing phenomenon is known as backflow.
Think of all that grimy water drained from washing machines and dishwashers down your sinks and basins. What if it got mixed with the clean water supply? When water from pressurized water taps flows in the opposite direction, it may compromise the safety of the entire water supply system.
It’s too gross even to imagine. This can give rise to severe gastrointestinal diseases, too; that’s why backflow testing is a must.
Backflow can occur for two reasons: back pressure and back-siphonage. Backpressure flow is when the pressure in the plumbing suddenly increases because the downstream pressure is higher than the pressure at the source.
At the same time, back-siphonage occurs when the direction of the water flow changes because of pressure fluctuation. This can happen when a vehicle hits a fire hydrant or a garden hose that draws filthy water from the backyard into the potable water storage.
What Is Backflow Testing?
Before installing a simple backflow prevention device, you need backflow testing. As discussed above, a backflow test is a quick and straightforward method to evaluate whether clean water is mixing with filthy water. In this backflow test, a plumber assesses the functioning of the backflow preventer device installed in your pipes and plumbing system.
The backflow test is mainly conducted for two purposes: to check whether there’s a backflow in the supply line, and the second is to pinpoint its reason. It is highly recommended to have an annual backflow testing. Completing the backflow testing process usually takes no more than thirty minutes if no repairs are required. Specific criteria must be observed for backflow testing, ensuring that the check valves prevent backflow and that the airports open when they should.
Why Is It Important?
To be confident about the quality of water that you are consuming, it is crucial to get annual testing of your supply system. It is an integral part of home maintenance because it gives a conclusive report about whether the water at your home is clean and safe.
A few advantages of backflow testing are:
1. Protection Against The Presence Of Heavy Metals
Heavy metals can enter your water supply, especially if you are a business owner or own cafes and restaurants. A typical example is the contamination of clean water by copper because of soda dispensers.
The carbonated solution in the dispensers can corrode its inner surface, carrying it to the pipes that transport used water. If backflow happens in this situation, it will lead to copper poisoning in the individual who consumes it.
Similarly, other heavy metals like chromium, lead, and arsenic employed in metal plating can also seep into drinking water.
2. Preventing Waterborne Diseases
Disease outbreaks like typhoid, diarrhoea, and dysentery occur because of faecal infiltration into drinking water. There’s a high chance of such infections when water’s backflow occurs. Most gastrointestinal disorders are caused by coliform bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella that thrive in dirty water.
3. Prevention Of Chemical Contamination
Compounds like sodium hydroxide, herbicides, and insecticides can enter the water supply through backflow and threaten your health. Noxious chemicals can cause liver, breast, pancreatic cancer, and leukemia.
The Process Of Backflow Testing
Before carrying out the backflow testing process, certain technicalities must be taken care of, and the licensed plumbers you hire should look after them. Firstly, you’ll need permission from the property’s representative or owner to shut down the water supply.
For convenience, kindly inform everybody about the water cut-off before the test so they can plan accordingly. Next, inspect the area thoroughly, observe the assembly of the device and its surrounding area, and note it down if possible.
Also, verify the system’s producer and record its location, serial number, model, and size. Once all this is done, you can proceed with the testing.
Backwater testing involves relief valves and gates on the testing device by shutting off the valves and noting fluctuations in gauge movement. These changes can point to leakage or other plumbing issues.
The essential criteria that must be met in the test are:
- Ensuring the regular opening of the airports
- Ensuring the check gates stop the backflow
- Making sure the timely introduction of a backflow testing device or gate and relief valves
The last step should occur before the pressure difference between the inlet device and check valves go below two pascals.
How To Prevent Backflow?
This gruesome phenomenon can be prevented by installing devices and assemblies that stop the water reversal in the water system.
However, once the backflow prevention devices are installed, it isn’t possible to test them as they do not have test valves or outlet and inlet valve shutoffs. On the other hand, backflow prevention assemblies possess all the necessary shutoffs and valves that can be regularly tested for effective and safe functioning.
So, let us discuss the different types of backflow devices in detail.
1. Atmospheric Vacuum Breakers (Prevention Device)
An atmospheric vacuum breaker, commonly called an atmospheric siphon, requires air pressure for function instead of water pressure. Its inlet valve remains closed when the water flow is proper but opens when it reverses and prevents back-siphonage.
These assemblies are effective in central systems but aren’t economically feasible in complex plumbing since they must be installed after every zone, pipe, or control valve.
2. Pressure Vacuum Breakers (Prevention Assembly)
This simple assembly is the most effective and commonly used to prevent backflow. It’s available at an affordable price and is economical to install, repair, and maintain.
The basic structure comprises a valve body with a pressure vacuum breaker and an inlet shutoff valve. It also has check valves loaded with springs designed to shut down when the water stops flowing.
But the drawback is that they are made for stopping back-siphonage only.
3. Spill-Resistant Vacuum Breakers (Prevention Assembly)
These installations are leak-proof and do not allow water to spill, proving practical barriers for back-siphonage. This backflow device is similar to pressure vacuum breakers but has an additional diaphragm to prevent spillage from the air inlet under high-pressure conditions.
4. Double Check Valves (Prevention Assembly)
The double-check valve assembly (DCVA) is the perfect backflow preventer for in-line or underground usage. It is ideal for outdoor and indoor pipelines, consisting of a valve body, an inlet shutoff valve, and two independent check valves.
There is a shutoff valve for the outlet and four test valves.
Unlike SVBs and PCBs, DCVA can safeguard the plumbing against back pressure and back-siphonage. Hence, we can say they are excellent backflow preventers.
Why Backflow Testing Is A Must!
The backflow of water can be dangerous for your drinking water supply and your family’s health, so regular plumbing system testing is very important. In other words, the annual testing of your supply system cannot be overlooked or neglected. If the property’s water meter is more significant than 25mm, you’ll need a separate backflow device.
We have now reached the end of our comprehensive guide on everything related to backflow. The guide covered its type, the testing process and prevention devices; hopefully, you got to know all you wanted.
But before signing off, we’d like to brush up on a few things. Backflow testing is done to check backflow occurrence and find its root cause. The procedure requires the area’s water supply to be shut off for a while, so you should inform the residents before the test.
Don’t hesitate to contact our certified plumbing company for your plumbing requirements and backflow device installation. Call our plumbing team for Sydney water leaks, dirty water infiltration, device assembly (backflow prevention devices), backflow testing, and other plumbing services.
That’s pretty much it. We’ll see you next time, take care!