Have Questions About Backflow? We've Got Answers!

What to Know About Backflow

Plumbing backflow is a serious problem that can contaminate drinking water and cause severe health risks, so it's crucial homeowners have some basic knowledge about it and how it’s prevented. This post will answer some questions homeowners may have about backflow, how it’s prevented, and backflow testing

What Exactly Is Backflow?

Backflow occurs when there is an unwanted flow of water going in the reverse direction. In this case, contaminants may enter a home’s clean water supply. It can occur when water flows back into a home's plumbing system from an outside source, such as a sewer line or a neighbor's plumbing. 

Backflow can happen for various reasons, including faulty plumbing and power outages. Backflow usually occurs because of back pressure or greater pressure in the system versus its supply, forcing water back in the opposite direction. Another possible cause is back siphonage, where pressure is decreased in the supply causing the system to have higher pressure.

Backflow is a serious problem that can result in serious health issues and flooding. Among them are pollution of the environment, corrosion of pipes and a home’s plumbing system, compromised quality of drinking water, and diseases carried by a contaminated water supply. These risks are a real threat to human health, so it is important to prevent backflow at all costs. 

What Are Some Options for Preventing Backflow?

backflowPreventing backflow can be done by installing backflow prevention devices that are designed to keep water flowing in one direction. There are two common methods of backflow prevention plumbers may use: the air gap method and the backflow preventer valve method.

The air gap method is a backflow prevention method that involves putting a physical space or a gap between a water outlet and the flood level of a fixture. This gap helps maintain pressure in the system to keep wastewater flowing in one direction. The other method uses a backflow device called a backflow preventer valve. This valve can be installed in the system to keep water moving in one direction to prevent backflow and its effects.

How Often Should Backflow Preventers Be Tested?

backflowWhile backflow prevention methods are essential for homes to help prevent water contamination, backflow testing must be done to ensure these devices are working correctly. Most states require homes to have this backflow test done by licensed plumbers who act as backflow testers at least once yearly. 

Regular backflow testing gives homeowners - and the public - peace of mind that backflow devices are working properly and that their water at home is completely safe for consumption and free from contamination. If homeowners have more questions about backflow prevention and testing, they can reach out for answers.  

About PAC Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning

PAC Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning has over 45 years of experience serving Staten Island and the surrounding areas. They offer accurate solutions, options to fit your budget, and fast turnarounds. Call them today for backflow prevention, testing, and certification services in Staten Island, NY.

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Backflow Testing Can Save Halloween From the Scares of Backflow

Defining Backflow

Backflow is basically what it sounds like. Water that normally flows away from the house unintentionally reverses direction and flows back toward the house. Backflow usually happens because of a major interruption in the water system.  

Some events that can cause backflow include opening a fire hydrant, a water main bursting, or some breakdown in the municipal water supply. Most cities have ordinances requiring backflow preventers because of the health hazards of backflow, and backflow testing ensures the backflow preventers are still working properly.

Why is Backflow Dangerous?

backflowBecause water flows opposite from what is intended with backflow, wastewater can be suctioned up into the home and the supply pipes. This can result in serious problems due to contamination. Here are some contaminants that can enter the clean water supply as a result of backflow:

  • Bacteria
  • Chemicals
  • Human waste
  • Microbes
  • Soap
  • Soil
  • Viruses

All of these can cause serious health problems and illnesses for anyone who comes into contact with contaminated water. 

How is Backflow Testing Done?

testingBackflow testing is the term used for testing the backflow preventers attached to most houses and businesses to prevent backflow. Municipal governments often require that backflow testing be done yearly. It must be done by a certified backflow tester, which is a qualified plumbing technician who has passed training in the machines that perform the backflow testing. This individual can perform the test, and if the apparatus works as it should, they can sign the paperwork and be gone in less than an hour. 

Here are some steps involved in backflow testing and what the tester is looking for:

  • Valve Check: The backflow preventer consists of a valve at either end that will close off to prevent water from flowing backward and the contamination that comes from that. The tester must verify that these valves are opening and closing properly.
  • Air Chamber Check: Air chambers within the device can open and close at certain points in the process. The tester makes sure these open and close when they should. 
  • Relief Valve Check: The relief valve on the device has to be very sensitive, opening at a difference of 2 PSL or less. This must be checked with a PSL pressure test to prevent damage.

Why is Backflow Testing Important?

Preventing backflow is a major benefit to public health because it’s normally a whole area that is affected by backflow, meaning that an entire city’s water could become contaminated. Contaminated water can cause an outbreak of illnesses that could make life harder for everyone in the area. 

Backflow testing is, therefore, of major importance to public health and safety, which is why some municipal governments require it. However, even if it’s not mandatory, homeowners should get it done annually to keep their families and communities safe. 

About PAC Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning

The award-winning PAC Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning provides the residents of Staten Island, NY, and the surrounding areas reliable, individualized services for all their household needs. They offer options to fit a budget, fast turnarounds, and maintenance plans. Call them today for backflow prevention, testing, and certification services in Staten Island, NY.

Even Movie Monsters Fear Backflow

The Terrors of Backflow 

Werewolves and vampires are supernaturally strong and scary, but even they should fear plumbing backflow. Backflow is characterized by the reversed flow of clean water in a supply line. This reversal results in the contamination of clean drinking water, creating an unpleasant and extremely dangerous situation for anyone who uses it. 

Pressure plays a key role in causing backflow.  Back siphonage happens when a drop in pressure in the pipes creates a vacuum that pulls dirty water into the clean supply. Backpressure is the cause of backflow when pressure from the receiving end of the waterline is higher than the supply, reversing water flow and allowing dirty water to pollute the supply. 

The pollution can contain chemicals, pesticides, and sewage, all of which are dangerous to the health of a home’s occupants. The moment backflow is suspected, a certified plumber with backflow licensing should be contacted.

Backflow Is a Monsterous Mess

red bucket

Because of the nature of the pollutants found in backflow water, remedies are costly and time-consuming. Plumbers can spend weeks fixing a major backflow problem, and the cost can go well over a thousand dollars. Backflow can cause more than just water troubles. 

Certain chemicals that may be released into a home’s plumbing can cause corrosion and damage to plumbing. If sewage has invaded the system, a thorough cleaning might be needed to reinstate the water source’s integrity. Such remedies require a professional to take care of them to ensure proper repair and dispose of any pollutants. 

The Major Health Dangers of Backflow

Backflow frequently creates a toxic cocktail that poses extreme and sometimes lethal health risks to a home’s occupants. Corrosive chemicals, hazardous pesticides, and human waste can all cause illness and health conditions with even slight exposure. Additionally, backflow can introduce microorganisms, mold, spores, and other water-borne diseases and illnesses into a home’s water supply. Backflow is a health emergency that should be addressed right away by a qualified professional. 

The Power of Backflow Testing 

Homeowners can take action to prevent and detect backflow problems. A plumber certified in backflow testing can locate, diagnose, and remedy backflow problems before they become a major health risk. 

toy house

Backflow testing plays a vital role in identifying whether preventative measures need to be installed to protect against backflow. Most modern homes and buildings have backflow prevention already installed, but repairs and replacements may be needed. Older homes may not have preventative seals or valves in place, and homeowners should consider having them installed for the protection of themselves and their loved ones.

Backflow may seem like an invisible nightmare to most homeowners. The good news is that an expert plumber will help keep the water supply of the home safe and clean and keep backflow nightmares far, far away. 

About PAC Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning

Local and veteran-owned PAC Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning is proud to provide exceptional plumbing service for the Staten Island, NY area. For over thirty years, they have provided clients personal attention for every job they do. Contact them today for reliable backflow testing and certification.