What Is Backflow?
Backflow occurs when water runs backward through your plumbing system. Though this may not seem like a big deal, it is. Backflow can contaminate your water supply as blackwater (sewage) flows back into your clean water supply. Furthermore, a backflow issue in your home has the potential to contaminate not only your own water supply but that of your neighborhood as well.
The top three signs you may have a backflow problem include:
- Your water smells like sewage (sulfur or rotten egg smell)
- A change in your water pressure (usually reduced) or flow (slow)
- Discolored water
Backflow is usually caused by a pressure problem within your plumbing system. Typically, when the water pressure inside your lines is greater than the pressure coming in at your water meter, backflow can occur – this is called backpressure. It can also be caused by backsiphonage when the pressure in the drinking water line suddenly drops. Backpressure and backsiphonage can happen for several reasons, such as a break in your local water main.
Preventing Backflow in Your Plumbing System
To prevent backflow in your plumbing system, you need to have a backflow prevention device installed at all cross-connections in your plumbing system. A cross-connection is where a potable water supply line crosses a non-potable line. Backflow prevention devices are relatively inexpensive, and you likely already have one installed at your home.
Backflow prevention devices are required by the city, and the state requires annual backflow testing.
Types of Backflow Prevention Devices
There are a couple of different types of backflow prevention devices. One of the most common is a PVB device, or a pressure vacuum breaker. PVB devices are inexpensive and provide protection for your whole plumbing system. Consequently, you likely have a PVB installed at your home. Other common backflow prevention devices are double check assemblies/double check valves and reduced pressure zone assemblies.
Regardless of the type of backflow prevention device you choose or have, it must be installed and maintained by a licensed plumber to ensure proper functioning. Additionally, different cities and counties have different requirements for which backflow prevention devices can be used and how they must be installed. Your plumber can ensure that all local building codes and regulations are adhered to.
How Do You Test for Backflow?
To have your backflow tested, you will need to schedule an appointment with an experienced plumber who is licensed and certified by the LA County Health Officer to perform backflow testing, like ours at H. L. Moe Co., Inc. Our plumber will come to your home and test the pressure in your plumbing system, looking for problems. They will also perform tests to ensure your backflow prevention devices are working correctly. If any issues are found, our plumber will provide you with all of your repair options.
How To Schedule a Backflow Test
Usually, you will receive a notice in the mail that your annual backflow test is due in a few weeks. If you’ve received a notice, all you have to do to schedule the test is either call our office at (818) 396-8002 or send us a message online. After your appointment, we will give you the necessary paperwork attesting that you had the test performed and its outcome.