In this article, you will be integrated into a thorough and factual all-you-need-to-know about backflow testing. We carefully explain everything you need to know about backflow testing. Let’s get right to it. For more Commercial Plumbing Services keep reading.
What is backflow testing?
In simple terms, backflow testing is a process used to test water distribution systems (plumbing systems) to ensure that dirty and contaminated water does not come into contact with clean water. If dirty water infiltrates the freshwater supply, it can be hazardous and cause disease and other health problems. It is, therefore, vital to conduct backflow tests yearly.
The pressure in water distribution systems is usually kept at a standard pressure so as to allow water to move through from one area to another. Like from the bathroom to the kitchen and the other regions. Maintaining water pressure is essential because the risk for water to flow backward into the whole system is eliminated.
Minimising pressure in the water pipes will let contaminated water from storage, underground pipes, or soil to be drawn into the plumbing system. If the water distribution system is subjected to a drop in pressure by factors such as freezing, an unusual strain on the water supply, or changes in temperature, contaminated water can enter the system.
The most apparent thing backflow testing will do is generally establish if you have a problem with the lines in your water system. The test will also find out if there are any prevention measure for water backflow that were previously installed, and if you need another preventive measure.
Why do you need backflow testing?
- To determine how best to prevent contamination of your water supply. If a proper test is carried out, it will determine the type and location to install a backflow preventer.
- To prevent contamination to neighboring properties. This happens in most commercial and residential buildings where there are multiple tenants, all sharing the same water plumbing system.
- To prevent unsanitary leaks. This happens when a pipe bursts and allows dirty water to mix and leak into your house or basement. If you can’t locate the source of the dirty water leak, then a backflow test will do it for you.
- To keep clean water safe. Even the slightest bit of dirty water inside the clean water pipes can cause a major and hazardous problem.
- Backflow testing usually examines the safety and health process designed to protect the purity of water.
- It is a requirement by law. Almost all states require a backflow prevention device fitted to the plumbing system and specifically for industrial, residential, or commercial buildings. Backflow testing is required yearly. If not, the water supply is disconnected to these places.
- Added advantage. Backflow testing can also bring up other plumbing issues such as blocked pipes, rusted pipes, leaking pipes, and clogged garbage disposals.
How does backflow happen?
Backflow usually occurs when clean water is forced to reverse its direction. In the process, it creates a suction where dirty water is pulled up into the clean water system. As mentioned before, this can be caused by any number of things. Dirty water can have any number of contaminants classified as a hazard, including human waste, fertiliser chemicals, and heavy metals.
Ageing infrastructure can also lead to an increase in water contamination and subsequent backflow due to older plumbing systems.
It is worthy to note that buildings that have a cross-connection between plumbing systems have an increased affinity to backflow issues. Therefore almost all buildings that have cross-connections have to have a backflow prevention device inserted. Cross-connection points are places in the plumbing system where pipes with clean and drinkable water and pipes with dirty water meet.
Let us use an example of your garden hose. When you turn on your garden hose, it uses clean water to water your front yard, and if you leave it lying near a place with dirty water, that will be the water going back through your hose.
Backflow can be prevented in two ways:
Backflow prevention gadget.
A backflow prevention gadget is a device which primarily consists of a series of valves that prevent water from flowing backward when there is a fluctuation of water pressure. These devices have moving parts and need regular testing and care. Proper installation and maintenance of a backflow prevention device will keep your water supply clean and free of hazardous material.
This is the most simple and effective way to prevent backflow. An air gap is the physical and vertical space between a water outlet such as a faucet and the flood level of a fixture. Consider a simple example of the space between a water faucet and a sink. Water can easily flow from the tap into the sink, but cannot flow from the sink into the faucet. If this weren’t so, a suction would be created that would pull water backward.
If water were to flow from the sink into the faucet, then a number of problems would occur, such as infiltration of dirty water into the clean or drinking water system. Or the backward flow of water into your home. An air gap keeps water flowing in one direction.
It is important to note that sometimes, back flow prevention devices can become faulty and malfunction, hence why they have to be checked and maintained yearly. There are signs that your water is contaminated.
- Foul tasting water
- Cloudy water
- Water with a metallic, mineral or chemical taste
- Foul-smelling water
- Visible sedimentation in your water
- Coloured water
If you notice such signs, it is possible that your water may be contaminated, and you need a back flow testing. You may not notice these signs immediately. It is a long process from when the contaminated water mixes with your drinking water. You may be using contaminated water for cooking your food, wash your laundry, and even bathe your children.
Instead of leaving things to chance, you should take the necessary preventive action. It is crucial to have a back flow test at least yearly. Even if you have backflow prevention devices installed, it is essential you have them checked to ensure they are operating correctly.