Backflow: Causes, Testing, and Prevention

As a homeowner, you should take responsible measures to prevent issues in your home, including flooding and leaks in your plumbing system. Sometimes, the trouble with your plumbing system can result from expected problems like clogged or frozen pipes. 

Other times, problems can emerge from unexpected sources, such as heavy rains. For this reason, it’s essential to seek Naperville backflow testing services to detect and prevent the issues early.

What is Backflow Testing?

In plumbing, backflow is the undesired reversed flow of water, and it poses the risk of taking back contaminants into the fresh supply of the water source. If backflow happens, it can lead to changes in the pH levels of the pure water supply. In addition, it can cause corrosion of industrial equipment.

Often, backflow happens in water supply systems that maintain their water at high pressure, which enables the water to travel in the reverse direction from a nozzle fixture or a tap. Pipeline systems contain backflow preventing valves, also referred to as backflow preventers. 

The backflow preventers are devices that prevent the unwanted reversal of water-containing contaminants, including chemicals, bacteria, and pollutants. The types of backflow preventers are:

  • Residential backflow prevention devices
  • Double check backflow prevention devices
  • Wastewater backflow prevention devices

Apart from backflow prevention valves, having an air outlet is one of the most reliable ways of preventing backflows. An air gap between the connecting piping in the plumbing system or anywhere the contaminated water can collect will help prevent water backflow.

What are the Causes of Backflow?

There are two main causes of backflows. They include:

Back-pressure Backflow

This type of water backflow happens when the pressure from a non-potable water source is greater than that of the potable clean water source. It can be a result of:

  • Reduced potable water pressure created by a break in the main water line, line flushing, or firefighting
  • Increased downstream pressure caused by heat expansions from broilers or pumps

Back Siphonage Backflow

It occurs when there is a loss of pressure in your clean water supply that causes contaminated water to get sucked backward. For example, a partial vacuum or vacuum can result in negative pressure in the water leading to backflow. The loss of pressure can be caused by a sprinkler system, broilers, or power-washing tools.

Clean water is a necessity for a successful and functional society. Backflow leads to the contamination of water, where the contaminated water contains germs, chemicals, and bacteria that transmit diseases. 

Fortunately, advances in modern plumbing have resulted in better sanitation practices and waste removal processes. However, backflow can still happen even with the advancement, making regular backflow testing necessary.

How to Prevent Backflow

Being proactive in your plumbing systems’ health will save money, energy, and time as you will detect issues in your plumbing system early. The two common ways of preventing backflow include:

  • Backflow Preventor Valve –  It’s designed to prevent the backflow of water that results in contaminants mixing with your clean water supply. They are installed in the pipes, allowing the water to only move in one direction.
  • Air Gaps – Are meant to maintain pressure in the plumbing system to prevent water from flowing backward through the unobstructed spaces. Without an air gap, wastewater can easily flow into the clean water supply, resulting in serious health risks. 

In Conclusion

You should ensure that you do regular plumbing maintenance for early detection and prevention of backflow. In addition, the timeframe of how long the backflow preventers will last depends on various factors, including your environment, the frequency of use of the device, the quality of the water, and the water pressure.

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