Backflow Testing FAQs

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Q. What is backflow?
A. Backflow means that the direction that the water is supposed to flow (into or out of your home) gets reversed. When the direction of water flow is unintentionally reversed, the water supply can be contaminated by gases, liquids, or solids entering the water supply.  Basically, it means that dirty water mixes with clean water.  The water that comes into your home from the local municipal water supply is being pumped into the home at a certain level of pressure.  This pressure is what makes it possible for water to flow from your faucets.  In certain circumstances, that level of pressure can be reduced.  This happen when pipes freeze or a water main breaks.  When that pressure is reduced, contaminated water from other sources can enter your home water supply.

Q. What is a backflow prevention device?
A. All homes use a backflow prevention device to prevent the clean water supply from being contaminated in the event that the direction of water flow is reversed. There are two ways to prevent backflow.  The first way is to use an air gap.  This simply means that there is an open space between the faucets in the home and locations where water can collect.  The second way to prevent backflow is through the use of a backflow preventer valve.  If there is the possibility that the water supply could be contaminated at specific locations in the home, a backflow preventer valve can be installed at each of those locations.

Q. What is the purpose of backflow testing?
A. Most states require that backflow testing be performed periodically. A backflow preventer valve can break, so regular backflow testing is performed to ensure that all backflow preventer valves are working properly.  If the backflow prevention device is not working properly, contaminated water can enter the water supply, which can be dangerous to the health of anyone who consumes the water.

Q. How is backflow testing performed?
A. Backflow prevention devices have built-in ports so that the device can be tested easily. The device is tested by a plumber using a test kit.  In order to perform the test, all water downstream of the device must be turned off.

Q. What causes a backflow prevention device to fail?
A. Like any mechanical device, a backflow prevention device won’t last forever. The length of time that a backflow prevention device lasts depends on several factors.  These factors include the quality of your water, the pressure of your water, how often the device is used, and the environment where the device is installed.  About 5% of the devices that are tested fail.  Typically, the failure is caused by a simple problem, like an O-ring that needs to be replaced or a broken spring.

Q. Where are backflow prevention devices located?
A. The device may be located inside or outside the home, depending on what fixture it is intended to protect.

If your home uses a backflow prevention device, you may receive notification from the local municipality that you are required to have the device tested.  If so, contact Scott English Plumbing.  We can perform backflow testing for you.  If there is a problem with your backflow prevention device, we will repair or replace it.

Scott English Plumbing has been providing high-quality service to residents of Orange County for more than 15 years.  We give our customers the best plumbing service at affordable prices.  We are available 24/7, so whenever a plumbing problem pops up, call Scott English Plumbing.