Tips for Preventing Backflow

February 11, 2022

The term backflow can strike fear into the heart of any homeowner, so knowing what backflow is and how to prevent it should be a priority for any property owner. Put succinctly, backflow is the reversing of any water in your pipes. If left unchecked, it can cause real problems that cost an awful lot of time and money—to say nothing of the stress and heartache.

It’s such a serious concern because, not only can it make a mess, it can also create a health hazard. Potable water can be instantly contaminated by the sludge flowing back up the pipe, so it’s important to mitigate the risk of backflow wherever possible.

Read on for more tips about what can cause it and how to prevent it.

Types of backflow

If you’re looking to learn about what backflow is and how to prevent it, it’s critical to understand that it can occur due mostly to two main causes: back pressure and back siphonage. They differ from each other, but can both be equally disruptive to a home or business. Back-pressure backflow typically occurs when downstream pressure becomes greater than the main water source. This downstream pressure usually originates from a non-potable water source (such as a sewage line), so the health risks are obvious.

Back-siphonage backflow happens when a vacuum forms in your pipes, which can create negative pressure in no time. This causes that same non-potable water to be forcibly drawn back into your system and contaminate your entire system.

What causes backflow?

If you’re looking to prevent backflow from happening, then it’s important to know its main causes. In the case of back siphonage, the overarching problem is that the water pressure in your pipes is lower than that of the system supplying it. Basic physics tells us that water will then flow back from the supplying system to your home’s pipes, so keeping equal pressure at all times is imperative. Pressure fluctuations can also occur from large usages of water, like firefighting activities.

How to prevent backflow

Fortunately for homeowners, this is a potential problem that plumbers have known about for a very long time, and there are a number of ways to prevent backflow from happening. A simple air gap is a popular solution, for example. This is a nonmechanical solution that calls for a gap of air between a water outlet (like a faucet) and the flood level. This ensures that backflowing water cannot push past that air gap and contaminate your water.

A plumber might also recommend installing a pressure vacuum breaker. These monitoring devices keep a virtual eye on your system’s pressure. If the pressure drops too low, the device automatically triggers a valve to close, preventing any backflow.

If you’re concerned about your plumbing system and think that it might be at risk, the best way to prevent backflow from happening is to call in the experts. Our team at Moody & McClendon Plumbing Inc. has seen every problem under the sun, so call us today.

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