In a normally functioning water system, water should only flow in one direction, as designed. Fresh and clean water is distributed into the house, while waste water is carried out. Backflow issues, however, can happen. Backflow is the reversal of the flow of water in a water system, with nasty waste water flowing back into your home.
From the sound of it, backflow issues can pose serious health risks to everyone in your household. The waste water that flows back into the home can contaminate your water, and the bacteria and other pathogens present in waste water could make anyone who uses it or worse, drinks it, sick. It is a serious plumbing problem that needs to be addressed the soonest possible time.
Causes of backflow
Backflow can be caused by many things. Sudden drops in water pressure, water line breaks, fire fighting and the flushing out of water pipes are some of the more common causes of backflow. Typically, these events can create backpressure, where downstream pressure is stronger than supply pressure. The formation of a full or partial vacuum in supply piping, called back-siphonage, may also occur because of the above-mentioned situations. Both backpressure and back-siphonage can cause the reversal of water flow.
Backflow prevention device
Fortunately, preventing backflow issues can be done. For home water systems, the most commonly-used devices to prevent backflow are atmospheric vacuum breakers or AVBs. Atmospheric vacuum breakers, which are usually made of brass, prevent any siphon conditions from ever forming by allowing air to enter the water system.
If AVBs are commonly-used in residential water systems, commercial or industrial systems more commonly use such devices as reduced pressure principle assemblies, pressure vacuum breakers and double-check valves. It is not unheard of for these devices to be used in residential water systems though.
As all water systems can be hit by backflow issues, it is required by law in many areas for every single water system to have a backflow prevention device in place. As a home owner, it is also in your best interest to know if there is a backflow prevention device installed in your own residential water system. If you’re not sure that you have one, or if you confirm that your water system, indeed, doesn’t have a backflow prevention device, call us at Beez Neez Plumbing and we’ll make sure that your water system will be permanently kept safe from backflow issues.