The Water System in Your Home: Preventing Backflow Issues
Your water system is designed to keep water flowing in one direction, from the distribution system into the various rooms in your home. Backflow is the reversal of flow in a water system, an issue that can contaminate potable water, creating the potential for illness when that water is consumed. For this reason, preventive measures to protect against water system backflow are necessary in home plumbing systems, and backflow prevention devices should be checked regularly to ensure proper operation.
Backflow can occur in an unprotected water system due to alterations in normal water pressure, changing the typical flow pattern. Among the most common reasons for water pressure issues are sudden increases in water usage in the system, as can occur in a municipal water system when water lines are flushed, a water main breaks or firefighters tap into the system. These situations can create backpressure, where downstream pressure exceeds supply pressure, or back-siphonage, where a full or partial vacuum forms in supply piping, both of which can reverse water flow. For water system backflow prevention in residential water systems, atmospheric vacuum breakers, or AVBs, are most common.
These devices work by allowing air to enter into a pipe to prevent siphon conditions from forming. Other devices include double-check valves, reduced pressure principle assemblies, and pressure vacuum breakers. While these are most commonly used in commercial or industrial systems, they are occasionally found in residential systems. Water system backflow prevention devices should be included in every water system and are required equipment in many municipalities.
Some municipalities require that these devices are tested periodically to ensure a safe water supply is maintained for all users. If you don’t know whether you have water system backflow prevention devices in place or haven’t had existing ones tested lately, speak with your plumber to ensure that your water system is protected and meets any code requirements in your area. If you need more information on water system backflow prevention, please contact Sobieski Services.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC & plumbing systems).
Image Credit: Russell Heistuman