General Requirements for Backflow Testing

backflow testing

Clean water arrives in most businesses through pressurized water pipes. While under normal circumstances, the water flows in only one direction, atypical conditions may result in backflow. 

It occurs when a water main breaks or a hydrant is opened. Reduced water pressure levels allow water to move in one direction. Contamination of the entire water supply, including drinking water, may result in a public health emergency. Backflow testing can ensure your backflow prevention devices are working correctly.

What is Backflow Testing?

Backflow testing ensures that your backflow preventers are working. The most common backflow prevention assemblies include pressure vacuum breakers, double-check valves, atmospheric vacuum breakers, and reduced pressure systems. While these systems have some differences, most backflow assemblies include at least one check valve, a set of springs, and a relief valve. 

During the backflow testing process, the entire assembly is pressurized, and each component is isolated to ensure that it is functional. In addition, the check valves must be opened and closed to verify that they move quickly. 

These valves must also have minimum pressure to pass the inspection or test. If the system has a relief valve, that must also open before a specific pressure differential is reached. The system should also be assessed for any water leaks during testing.   

How often should Backflow Testing be completed?

Backflow can present a serious problem if it results in contaminated water. For this reason, routine testing of backflow prevention systems should be completed at least every year. Additionally, many plumbers recommend that each system should be rebuilt with a new backflow preventer every five years. 

Backflow prevention systems should also be tested after installation, reinstallation, relocation, or repairs. Ensuring that these systems are operational is the best way to prevent backflow and ensure no dirty water contaminates the entire water supply.

Do I need to test my Backflow Prevention Assembly?

Many homes or business owners may be unsure if they must conduct backflow testing or even if they have a backflow prevention assembly. Common sources of backflow on residential properties include:

  • Hoses in residential homes – a drop in pressure can suck the dirty water from a hose into the water supply
  • Swimming pools or hot tubs
  • Irrigation systems with chemical or fertilizer injection

In addition to the residential hazards, specific commercial properties may be prone to backflow, such as:

  • Factories
  • Chemical plants
  • Cooling towers
  • Grease trap hose out points
  • Laundry facilities
  • Hospital autopsy areas
  • Funeral parlors
  • Pest control facilities
  • Motorhome effluent dump points
  • Garbage dumps
  • Caravan parks
  • School laboratories
  • Food and beverage processing plants

Backflow prevention assemblies are critical at these facilities and in these settings. Backflow preventers provide the best way to protect the entire water system and ensure water stays clean and safe. 

Who can do Backflow Testing?

Backflow testing is a relatively simple process that takes only about a half-hour. Anyone providing plumbing services can provide backflow testing. To learn more about backflow testing, contact Legacy Fire today.

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