Whenever I hear or see a home or business owner complain about having to perform their annual backflow device testing I like to take the time to explain what backflow devices are for and why they are so important.
Backflow devices protect a water source from being contaminated by whatever the backflow device is connected to. This can be important for obvious reasons, especially when the water source is connected to hazardous equipment.
Our water systems are needed to protect the health and welfare of the general public, so backflow prevention devices are put in place to ensure that when there is a problem with the water line, or a cross connection, that the drinking water cannot be contaminated by it. These devices prevent water from flowing back into the water mains and keep them clean.
There are different types of devices which can be installed, depending on the water system or potential hazard that can occur. A simple device can be installed on your outside faucets for under $5, while a more complext device can be installed on your water connection for over $300.
For the owners that have to pay for a more complex device it can be an added annoyance to have to pay for the device to be checked annually. They may feel that they have taken preventions against contamination and that is enough. Unfortuantely, even with all these preventions to cross connection and water contamination there are still over 10,000 reported cases of backflow contamination every year, with some cases being fatal.
It is understandable for owners of these devices to become frustrated by the constant testing that occurs. Since many of these devices are tested annually they mostly don’t worry about the consequences that may happen if it weren’t working correctly. It is important to realize that there are still over 10,000 reported cases of backflow contamination each year.
If you own or are responsible for a backflow device, you need to know that backflow devices are prone to failure. The reasons for these failures range from the condition or the piping or divice, to the equipment connected to it.
Backflow devices are required by law where needed and must be installed in accordance with plumbing and building codes. A backflow assembly must be tested when installed to make certain it is operating correctly.
If a backflow device is not working properly (fails to operate) it will need to be repaired or replaced. A good tester will be able to determine why a device is malfunctioning or seeming to malfunction. Digital equipment is now used to aid in diagnosing any problems that arise.