The installation and routine maintenance of a backflow preventer as part of regular plumbing services can head off tens of thousands of serious drinking water issues. Backflow devices are required by law in most municipalities in the Cross Plains WI and Middleton WI area. Annual inspections are required for most commercials buildings – inspections require certification by a licensed plumber.
Backflow Threatens Drinking Water
Backflow is the reverse movement of water from a home or commercial plumbing system into the public drinking water resources. Water from your home or building is pulled backward into the lines by the loss of pressure in the main water line or well pump. A backflow preventer is a relatively simple device that prevents pressure changes from altering the flow of water. It is simple to look at, but the result of precise engineering inside.
There are two kinds of backflow:
- Back Pressure — Liquid flows from highest pressure to lowest in a natural attempt to equalize. When the system in your home is at a higher pressure than the main water supply, unmanaged water will be pushed back toward the public water supply.
- Back Siphonage — When the public water source has extremely low pressure compared to outside connections, contaminated substances can be sucked into the public water resource.
A change in water pressure can happen at any time for any number of reasons. In most cases they come and go unnoticed.
While the term backflow is common, the action is also referred to as a “Cross Connection.” In Dane County, there are detailed plans in place to monitor and maintain Cross Connection Control (CCC). The Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 placed the responsibility for drinking water protection on local governments. Across the country, more and more municipalities are mandating annual backflow regulator inspections for homes and businesses.
What’s the Risk?
It’s easy to think your home presents no risk to public health or drinking water. But the garden hose is one of the most common sources of backflow. There’s a simple pressure regulators on most of the newer connections and water spews out when you shut the hose off – an example of backflow. Through that hose, pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals can be syphoned into your home’s system and, without a working backflow preventer, into the neighborhood drinking water.
A Backflow Preventer is a Safety Valve
The concept is simple – put a valve in the line that prevents water from flowing more than one direction. Simple in concept, but more complicated than it looks. Precision engineering goes into the development of a backflow prevention valve and installation requires knowledgeable professional plumbing services.
Two preventer types are common:
- A Reduced Pressure Backflow Preventer — the simplest device for controlling the movement of water from high pressure to low pressure.
- Non-Return Valve — ensures that water flows in the preferred direction where pressure influences reverse flow.
Either style can be installed inside your home or outside depending upon the age of the system, local codes and the water application – irrigation systems and many commercial installations require outdoor preventers.
Preventers Have Moving Parts That Wear Out
Because there’s pressure from both ends at all times, the internal seal, springs and other moving parts are almost constantly stressed. While built to last, the do wear out – which is why an annual inspection and certification for homes as well as businesses is becoming more and more common.
Backflow preventer testing needs to be part of routine plumbing services to insure proper function of the units and protect public water supplies. All mechanical backflow systems require specialized, properly calibrated equipment for valid testing.
Sauk Plains Plumbing and Pumps is always ready with a complete line of products for installation, maintenance and timely plumbing services – including inspections, certification, replacements and installation of backflow prevention systems.
Call Sauk Plains Plumbing at 608-798-2121, to take advantage of our years of experience. Backflow preventers are part of professional plumbing services we provide for Cross Plains, Verona, Waunakee and Middleton WI.