As explanatory as the name backflow preventer sounds, many homeowners simply don’t know for sure what it does for the well being of their home. A backflow preventer is a device that, once installed on the water pipes of your home, allows your water to flow in one direction only, thus preventing backflow. It’s main purpose is to stop your drinking water from being contaminated when mixing with other types of water that has flowed backwards in the pipes for a variety of reasons.
What are those reasons? Is backflow something I should be concerned about as a homeowner? For starters, let’s look at what exactly it is that causes backflow in the first place.
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How does “backflow” happen?
When water enters your home from the main water supply line, it should only flow in one direction: into your home. Sometimes, that water can flow backwards and seep back into the main water supply line, caused by pressure changes in the pipes.
One example: backflow can happen when there’s a break in the main water line or when a fire hydrant is opened for use. Being that pressure is lost during these events, water is no longer being pushed forward into your home and will flow backwards into the city water lines. This kind of backflow can contaminate the public drinking supply with human waste, chlorine from pools and spas, soap from sinks/showers/dishwashers, fertilizers/pesticides, etc. A backflow prevention system comes in handy during these times.
Now that we’ve got that long explanation over with, let’s delve into how a backflow prevention system works.
Backflow Prevention System
Backflow prevention systems are devices fixed onto a pipe that allow water to flow in one direction. Much like the valves in your blood vessels, or a one-way gate- it basically stops water from flowing in the opposite direction, in this case, the main water supply.
Do I need a Backflow Prevention System?
If it is not a requirement to have a backflow preventer where you live then we recommend you have a backflow preventer installed anywhere incoming water and wastewater might be cross-connected. Newer homes may have built-in backflow preventers on most water lines but in order to know for certain whether your home has proper backflow preventers set up, we recommend having a trained, professional plumber inspect your home’s water system. Don’t wait until it’s too late as this will cause wasted time and money in the long run.