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Backflow Prevention Devices: How They Work and Who Needs Them

A backflow occurs in a home or business when the normal flow of water reverses and flows back into the main water supply.

It can happen due to pressure changes, such as when a fire hydrant is opened or during a water main break.

Professional drain clearing can help to fix and prevent backflow through regular maintenance and repairs.

Here are some of the backflow prevention devices that are commonly used and how they work:

Air Gap

An air gap is a physical separation between the main water supply and any potential contaminants. The gap can be seen in plumbing fixtures like sinks, with a visible gap between the faucet and the sink.

Air gaps prevent cross-contamination between water supplies, serving as an effective method for backflow prevention.

When water enters the receiving vessel, such as a sink or tank, it does so through gravity. This eliminates the risk of cross-contamination with the potable water supply.

The air gap is a barrier, preventing potential backflow from reaching the clean water supply. It effectively breaks the connection between the two water sources, safeguarding against any reversal of flow that could compromise water quality.

This mechanism is widely recognized for its reliability and is often mandated in plumbing codes and regulations for water safety.

Check Valves

A check valve is a mechanical tool that permits water to move in one direction and blocks reverse flow. It operates through a hinged flap or swinging gate that opens to allow forward water flow.

When the flow tries to reverse, the flap or gate automatically closes, blocking the water and preventing backflow.

Check valves are commonly used in areas where backflow is common, such as homes with irrigation systems.

Check valves come in various types, including swing, spring-loaded, and double-check valves. They require regular maintenance and testing for proper functioning.

Vacuum Breakers

A vacuum breaker is a backflow prevention device that automatically releases air in the plumbing system when a negative pressure occurs, preventing backsiphonage.

It consists of a valve that opens and closes depending on the water pressure, keeping the atmospheric pressure in balance with the pipes.

Vacuum breakers are typically used in outdoor faucets, irrigation systems, and other low-pressure water sources.

They help prevent backflow from outside contaminants, such as pesticides and fertilizers, from entering the clean water supply.

The presence of an air gap, facilitated by the vacuum breaker, serves as a basic form of protection by preventing the siphoning of water back into the municipal water supply.

Reduced Pressure Zone (RPZ) Devices

RPZ devices are backflow prevention assemblies that provide the highest protection against backflow. They use two check valves and a relief valve to create a barrier between the clean water supply and potential contaminants.

If the water pressure drops in the clean water supply, the relief valve opens to release excess water, preventing backflow from occurring.

RPZ devices are commonly used in industrial and commercial buildings with high-risk plumbing systems. They require regular testing and maintenance to enhance their efficiency and proper functioning.

Using RPZ devices provides an added layer of protection against potential backflow incidents, making them a component in various quality plumbing systems.

Where to Install Backflow Prevention Devices

Backflow prevention devices are valuable for any building or facility with a plumbing system connected to the municipal water supply.

This includes homes, businesses, schools, hospitals, and industrial facilities. Many local and state governments require backflow prevention devices to be installed in certain types of buildings.

Drain clearing helps to maintain the integrity of the backflow prevention devices. Consult a licensed plumber to determine your area’s specific backflow prevention requirements and building type.

Properly maintained and installed backflow prevention devices can prevent water supply contamination, protecting public health.

Find Professional Drain Clearing Services

Backflow prevention devices such as check valves, vacuum breakers, and RPZ devices maintain the integrity of our clean water supply.

These devices work together to prevent contaminated water from entering our drinking water. Proper drain clearing and regular maintenance of backflow prevention devices improve their effectiveness and enhance the safety of our water supply.

The implementation of backflow prevention measures helps to safeguard public health and protect plumbing systems from potential contamination. Find a reliable plumber to install these devices in your home or business today.

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