Backflow testing and certification is one of the most important plumbing maintenance appointments you can make. That’s because having your backflow prevention devices inspected annually can make the difference between drinking contaminated water that can make you deathly ill, and not. Read on to learn more about different ways to prevent a backflow catastrophe in your home!
What “Backflow” Means, & Why You Need a Prevention Device
The word "Backflow" describes a phenomenon that happens in the cross-connections of your piping system, wherein the contaminated water flowing in one direction, away from your home, begins to flow back towards your home in your supply lines.
Backflow can cause serious health issues by contaminating your drinking water. It is also possible for backflow to occur in main city pipes, in which case, the water supply of the entire city is at risk of being contaminated.
Because backflow poses such a severe health risk, the government requires that every residential property have a backflow prevention device installed. This protects not only individual families, but the entire city as well. Air gaps and vacuum breakers are both viable options for backflow prevention.
How Air Gaps Can Prevent Backflow
One way you can prevent backflow in your pipes is by providing an air gap between drain lines and potable water lines. Air gaps work on the idea that the air between the clean water and the contaminated water will prevent the two will not cross paths.
Think of a faucet, sitting on a sink or shower. There is enough air between the spout where clean water flows out and the potentially contaminated water in the tub or sink.
A tundish can also be installed near your pipes’ pressure release valve to create an air gap. They’re great because they come in a variety of angles and shapes, so they fit virtually any pipe system. They are also known to prevent back pressure as well as backflow.
What do Pressure Vacuum Breakers do?
It is crucial that the water and air pressure in your pipes remain equal, as a change in air pressure can lead to backflow. Pressure vacuum breakers are another option for protecting your home against backflow that addresses this concern.
They work by opening and closing a valve in the device's vented chamber to re-adjust air pressure in a pipe when it becomes too high.
When air pressure and water pressure in the pipe are normal, the device allows water to pass through without the valve opening.
Not Sure Which Device is The Right Choice for You?
In Ottawa, where our winters can be a bit severe, a pressure vacuum breaker probably shouldn't be your first line of defense against backflow, as freezing temperatures can damage the device.
In this case, you may want to go with a tundish, which can also protect against backpressure (another type of backflow).
Choosing the best plumbing device to protect your home from backflow really comes down to the specific needs of your home. If you’re still not sure just what your home needs, the friendly plumbing professionals at Safari Plumbing can help you figure it out! Give us a call today for backflow testing and certification, as well as backflow prevention installations!