Backflow Prevention Device Questions & Answers

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What is a Backflow Prevention Device?

backflow prevention device is used to protect potable water supplies from contamination or pollution due to backflow. In water supply systems, water is normally maintained at a significant pressure to enable water to flow from the tap, shower, or other fixture.

What is a Cross Connection?

A cross connection occurs whenever a potable drinking water line is directly or indirectly linked with a non-potable piece of equipment or piping.

How can a cross connection contamination event occur?

Contamination can end up in the drinking water lines as a result of back pressure or back siphonage.

Back pressure occurs when pressure in the equipment is greater than the pressure inside the drinking water line.

Back siphonage occurs when the pressure in the drinking water line drops (due to main line breaks, nearby fires, or unusually heavy water demand, and the contaminants are sucked out of the system and back into the potable water lines.

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What is Backflow?

The flow through a cross-connection from a possible source of contamination back into the drinking water system.

What causes backflow?

Backflow can occur for a number of different reasons.  In a typical plumbing system, pressure is maintained to keep the clean water flowing into the home or building. Various problems, such as frozen pipes, pipe leaks, or even unexpectedly high demand can cause a plumbing system to fail and backflow can occur.  It is also important to test for backflow during major changes to the plumbing system, such as a home remodel.  Backflow preventers are designed to protect people from contamination, but backflow testing is still critical to be sure that the system is working well. Bac Flo Testing & Repair can help customers by testing their water supply to see if any contamination is occurring.  Bac Flo Testing & Repair can also help customers isolate the problem and determine the best way to correct it.

I have a backflow prevention device on my line so I am ok, right?

Several factors influence the lifespan of a backflow device. These factors include water pressure, water quality, frequency of use and installation environment. About 5% of tested devices will have a problem. Most problems are simple and are caused by worn O-rings, cut seals or broken springs. Severe problems such as cracked castings and shattered poppets are usually caused by exposure to freezing temperatures.  That is a 5% chance that you our your family could be contaminated, or you could be liable for contaminating your friends and neighbors.

What can I do to prevent backflow situations?

Contact the certified backflow professionals at Bac Flo Testing and Repair to make sure the correct backflow device is installed and that it is tested annually.

My system is only 5 years old, so I should be good.

Several factors influence the lifespan of a backflow device. These factors include water pressure, water quality, frequency of use and installation environment. About 5% of tested devices will have a problem. Most problems are simple and are caused by worn O-rings, cut seals or broken springs. Severe problems such as cracked castings and shattered poppets are usually caused by exposure to freezing temperatures.  That is a 5% chance that you our your family could be contaminated, or you could be liable for contaminating your friends and neighbors.

I own a business, do I need a backflow prevention device?

Unless you receive a specific exemption from DEP, the following types of businesses are required to use backflow preventers:

  • Irrigation systems
  • Commercial Buildings
  • Residential
  • Sports Fields
  • Schools
  • Parks
  • Commercial Users (portable units)

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Where safe water began.

The Federal Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 authorized the EPA to establish minimum standards to protect tap water and requires all owners or operators of public water systems to comply with these primary (health-related) standards.

  • Safe water update.
    • May 27, 2015 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the Clean Water Rule, closing loopholes that historically allowed polluters to dump waste into the streams and wetlands that feed our drinking water supply. One in three Americans’ drinking water comes from these sources, and so EPA’s rule is a win for public and environmental health. Among other provisions, the rule grants protection under the Clean Water Act to streams, wetlands, and rain-dependent waters that connect to navigable waters.   Read more at:  EPA to protect drinking water.
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Backflow Prevention Device Important Safety Codes

SD Unified Plumbing Code: SDLC 25-36, 603.0, 603.3

603.1 Approval of Devices or Assemblies. Before any device or assembly is installed for the prevention of backflow, it shall have first been approved by the Authority Having Jurisdiction. Devices or assemblies shall be tested for conformity with recognized stan- dards or other standards acceptable to the Authority Having Jurisdiction which are consistent with the intent of this code. All devices or assemblies installed in a potable water supply system for protection against backflow shall be maintained in good working condition by the person or persons having control of such devices or assemblies. The Authority Having Jurisdiction or other department having jurisdiction may inspect such devices or assemblies and, if found to bedefective or inoperative, shall require the repair or replacement thereof. No device or assembly shall be removed from use or relocated or other device or assembly substituted, without the approval of the Authority Having Jurisdiction.603.3.3 The premise owner or responsible person shall have the backflow prevention assembly tested by a certified backflow assembly tester at the time of installation, repair, or relocation and at least on an annual schedule thereafter or more often when required by the Authority Having Jurisdiction. The periodic testing shall be performed in accordance with the procedures referenced in Table 14-1 by a tester qualified in accordance with those standards.603.3.5 Direct connections between potable water piping and sewer connected wastes shall not exist under any condition with or without backflow protection. Where potable water is discharged to the drainage system it shall be by means of an approved airgap of two (2) pipe diameters of the supply inlet, but in no case shall the gap be less than one (1) inch (25 mm). Connection may be made to the inlet side of a trap provided that an approved vacuum breaker is installed not less than six (6) inches (152 mm) or the distance according to the device's listing, above the flood-level rim of such trapped fixture, so that at no time will any such device be subjected to any back-pressure.603.4.6 Protection from Lawn Sprinklers and Irrigation Systems. 603.4.6.1 Potable water supplies to systems having no pumps or connections for pumping equipment, and no chemical injection or provisions for chemical injection, shall be protected from backflow by one of the following devices: (1) Atmospheric vacuum breaker (2) Pressure vacuum breaker (3) Reduced pressure backflow preventer 603.4.6.2 Where sprinkler and irrigation systems have pumps, connections for pumping equipment, or auxiliary air tanks or are otherwise capable of creating back-pressure, the potable water supply shall be protected by the following type of device if the backflow device is located upstream from the source of back-pressure: (1) Reduced pressure backflow preventer 603.4.6.3 Where systems have a backflow device installed downstream from a potable water supply pump or a potable water supply pump connection, the device shall be one of the following: (1) Atmospheric vacuum breaker (2) Pressure vacuum breaker (3) Reduced pressure backflow preventer 603.4.6.4 Where systems include a chemical injector or any provisions for chemical injection, the potable water supply shall be protected by the following: (1) Reduced pressure backflow preventer 603.4.7 Potable water outlets with hose attachments, other than water heater drains, boiler drains, and clothes washer connections, shall be protected by a non-removable hose bibb type backflow preventer, a non-removable hose bibb type vacuum breaker, or by an atmospheric vacuum breaker installed at least six (6) inches (152 mm) above the highest point of usage located on the discharge side of the last valve. In climates where freezing temperatures occur, a listed self-draining frost-proof hose bibb with an integral backflow preventer or vacuum breaker shall be used.
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