How Does a Backflow Preventer Work?

May 23, 2022

Homes and business properties are built with backflow prevention systems that meet the state plumbing codes. Backflow can threaten your drinking water and lead to health issues caused by drinking contaminated water. Backflow can contaminate the public drinking supply water with chlorine from pools, soaps from tubs, sinks, dishwashers, fertilizers, and human waste. Every residential or commercial property should have a functional backflow prevention system. This article discusses what a backflow preventer is and how it works, but let’s first define backflow.

What Is Backflow?

Backflow means the pollution of a clean water line by contaminated water flowing in the reverse direction.  Backflow occurs in cross-connections such as reverse osmosis systems between potable and non-potable water lines and results in unsafe water for human use.

When water enters your home from the main supply line, it should flow only in one direction — into your home. However, due to pressure changes in pipes, the water can flow backward and seep into the main supply line, leading to intermingling with contaminated water from other areas.

Do I Need To Install a Backflow Prevention System in My House?

Backflow prevention systems are not mandatory for most homes. However, all commercial fire sprinkler systems and water pumps must have backflow preventers. If you have an irrigation system or well in your home, you will also need to install a backflow preventer as these systems are at risk of causing backflow. 

If you’re wondering whether you need to install a backflow preventer, the prudent answer is to have the preventer installed anywhere there is a cross-connection between wastewater and incoming water. Modern houses have built-in backflow preventers installed on certain waterlines. If you’ve just moved to a new home, you can get a plumber to help you check whether there is a backflow preventer already installed and install it if needed.

How Does a Backflow Preventer Work?

A backflow preventer is a device designed to keep clean water from getting contaminated from the water flowing back into the supply lines. The device stops water from flowing back into the main supply in the opposite direction. Most backflow preventers are simple and ingenious in their design. They operate by allowing clean water to flow in one way and close to where the pressure comes back through. 

When you turn on a tap or the laundry machine, the water is pulled through the mainline in the water system and siphoned through a branch line. During this process, the water draws everything into the line, making it practically impossible to avoid contaminants in cases of backflow.  However, with a backflow preventer, you can be sure that you are accessing clean water every time you turn your faucet on.

Need Backflow Prevention Services?

If you’re looking to install a backflow preventer, Moody & McClendon Plumbing Inc. can help you get the job done right. We can install and repair a backflow preventer to keep your home or business facility safe and healthier. You can also reach out on 770-251-4751 for other plumbing needs such as drain cleaning, water heater installation and repair, and much more.


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