It’s Not Just A Halloween Prank, Backflow Can Be A Real Scare
It would seem like a bad dream or a poltergeist disturbance if contaminated water began flowing backwards into the supply line or up the drains. Unfortunately, this is not just the premise of a scene in some film about paranormal activity; it is a reality of an extreme change in the water pressure in a large area. This is the essence of backflow and it can cause serious problems for an entire community, not just a single house. Changes in water pressure need to be watched regularly to prevent an issue of backflow.
What Is Backflow and Why Is It Bad?
As previously stated, backflow occurs when supply water flows away from the home or other building instead of toward and into the structure. This is usually caused by an extreme change in water pressure at the municipal or neighborhood level. A water main break or a rerouting of water to a hydrant may cause the pressure to drop.
The problem is that backflow can cause water contamination from waste water flowing back into the supply lines. Pollutants can include cleaning chemicals, human waste, and microbes such as bacteria and viruses. This is where the backflow preventer comes in. If the backflow preventer works properly, then one can prevent this contamination.
How Is Backflow Testing Done?
In most cases, homes and multi-family residential spaces have a backflow preventer. It is a specialized valve that allows potable water into the home but keeps water from flowing back into the main supply line. A certified backflow tester should check that the valve is working properly on an annual basis. When a backflow test is scheduled, a technician will perform the following tasks:
- Shut off the water supply line to the home
- Check valves that prevent backflow
- Check relief valve for correct pressure settings
- Check air ports are opening and closing properly
- Turn the water supply back on
Why Is Backflow Testing Important?
The testing of backflow preventers is very important to an entire community. Backflow preventers help keep the community safe. As previously mentioned, a yearly test is vital to the function of the valves as well as the safety of the entire municipal system. These specialized valves can preserve public health in the following ways:
- Prevents Water Contamination: Since human waste, chemicals, and other dangerous pollutants can enter the water supply and make it undrinkable.
- Prevents Disease Spread: Bacteria and viruses can also enter the water supply through backflow.
- Prevents Interruption of Water Supply: Without a backflow preventer, water might have to be shut off to fix the problem and prevent a public health crisis. At the very least, one might issue a boil water order if such a problem occurs. Unfortunately, boiling water does not get rid of chemical contamination.
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