When you’re thirsty, what do you do? Most likely, you grab a glass, fill it up, and start drinking. But take a moment to think about each of those steps. At no point in that process do you stop to ask yourself if the water coming out of the nozzle is contaminated. That’s because we expect a building’s plumbing will keep clean water separate from dirty water. But what if that doesn’t happen?
The Importance of Backflow Testing
Backflow is when polluted water flows back into a clean water supply. This is something that can happen at any time within any plumbing system, and it can be a health hazard for the building’s inhabitants. Fortunately, backflow can be averted with a simple backflow prevention test. With it, your plumbing company can tell if your building is experiencing backflow and fix it before it becomes a serious problem.
How Does Backflow Happen?
When water enters a building from the main water supply, it typically flows in one direction. However, in the event of backflow, the flow of the water is reversed. This can result in non-potable water mixing with potable water. The usual culprit is water pressure.
The pressure of the water entering your building is usually greater than the used water that’s leaving. However, in certain situations, this pressure differential can be flipped. For example, a break in the main water line or opening a nearby fire hydrant could potentially upset this balance. If the pressure drops, less force pushes the water forward, making it possible for water to flow the wrong way.
Common Areas for Backflow
Faucets and cross-connected pipes (drinking-water pipes that are connected to each other and also connected to other plumbing) are the plumbing fixtures that are most vulnerable to backflow. Because of this, the break rooms and restrooms in your building are at the greatest risk. Your break room will be especially vulnerable if it contains a dishwasher or garbage disposal.
However, most modern plumbing now has built-in backflow protection. For example, most faucets are above the flood rim level of a sink. This means that even if the sink is filled with dirty water, it’s impossible for backflow to occur because of the air gap created by the raised faucet.
How To Prevent Backflow
The first step to preventing backflow is to schedule an annual backflow inspection with a commercial plumbing company. A professional plumber can find any potential sources of contamination. The second step is to have a backflow device installed wherever fresh water and contaminated water pipes may be cross-connected. A backflow device provides the most protection from backflow in multistory facilities with numerous plumbing connections.
What Are Backflow Devices?
A backflow device is a mechanism designed to stop the water’s flow from reversing. As long as the municipal water source flows forward, the device will remain open. If it senses the flow reversing, the device will clamp shut, preventing the water from flowing backward. Some of the most common types of backflow prevention devices include hydrostatic loops, reduced pressure zones (RPZs), and atmospheric vacuum breaker devices (AVBs).
- Hydrostatic Loop: This is the practice of arranging pipes in a vertical loop to prevent backflow.
- Reduced Pressure Zone: This device forces water through several checkpoints before allowing it to enter your water source. If it senses backflow, the valves shut. Each valve acts independently, so if one fails, the others will remain shut.
- Atmospheric Vacuum Breaker (AVB): One of the simplest and least expensive backflow devices, an AVB introduces an air gap between fresh and contaminated water after it’s depressurized.
How Do Backflow Testing Prices Work?
How much does backflow inspecting cost? Backflow inspections cost more for commercial buildings than residential homes. Residential rates often run as low as $65 or $75, but commercial rates usually sit around $300. However, that $300 is an investment in your water supply and your facility’s overall safety, and it’s probably less than what you’ll spend to fix a contaminated water supply.
What Do Backflow Tests Involve?
During a backflow test, your technician will:
- Check the assembly’s serial number to ensure they’re examining the right one
- Make sure that the backflow assembly has two shutoff handles and four test ports
- Attach testing equipment to your assembly and perform proper test procedures
- Fill out a test report with their findings
- Turn the test report in to your municipality or local water provider
Should Your Test Come From a Certified Backflow Testing Company?
Yes, it should. Why? If an uncertified person performs your test, they could give you the wrong results, and you may not find out whether your backflow assembly works correctly. Also, your local water provider or municipality requires a copy of your results, which need to come from someone who’s certified to perform the test. Fortunately, A&G Services provides backflow testing services to commercial facilities throughout Texas.
Prevent Costly Plumbing Incidents With A&G Services
A faulty plumbing system can cause all kinds of issues for a business owner. Prevent plumbing problems with A&G Services. Our preventive plumbing solutions can help you save on costs, improve energy efficiency, and maintain a healthy work environment. Call us today to learn more about our services.