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Imagine you are in a house, and then abruptly, there is water shortage, leading to a backflow? If you don’t know much about backflow, this is a plumbing term that refers to the water pipes reversing the water in your home. For instance, if you had water in your toilet flush and there is no water from the mainline, the one in your flush starts flowing back to the source. Such is a nasty scene as it contaminates the pipes with unwanted water, and it might turn into a health hazard, especially if living in shared apartments.

If you don’t know much about backflow and how to prevent it, this article has your back. It will explain everything related to backflow and how you can avoid this situation from happening in your home. It would be best to read this article to the end to get enlightened. Let’s jump straight to the facts.

What is Backflow?

Backflow is a plumbing malfunction where water flows in the opposite direction from the house. This situation happens when there is a decreased water pressure from the pipes serving the home, making the available water from storage tanks and other reservoirs flow back to the main lines. 

Backflow leads to the sucking of unhealthy water from any source connected to the water system, leading to the main water supply.  When this situation happens, homeowners get at risk of drinking or using contaminated water, thus putting their health at risk.

How Does Backflow Occur?

A backflow occurs due to two main reasons.

  • Back Pressure: this happens when you have faulty plumbing, where the plumbing pressure exceeds that of the main distribution line. Your elevated tanks, boilers, and pumps leading water to higher floors can experience backflow issues if no device is put to control this.
  • Back Siphonage: sometimes, the municipality can quickly withdraw a considerable amount of water, creating a reverse pressure that leads to backflow to the main supply pipes. This situation happens during significant bursts or a fire-fighting emergency.

Why is Backflow Prevention Important?

As discussed, it brings a health hazard when sewage or contaminated water gets back to the pipes supplying you with fresh water. This situation will mean that even when water comes to its normal pressure, you will still consume the contaminated water for some time.

Backflow prevention measures require homeowners to prevent contaminated water from siphoning back to the main systems. As highlighted by the experts at fluidservices.com.au, it is essential to have your home fixed with backflow prevention measures to avoid consuming contaminated water that’s from farms, sinks, sewages, and other sources within the house. Backflow prevention is essential to ensure your family continues taking clean water, even when the water pressure gets low.

Why Water Level Drops?

Most houses in the United States and other areas use municipal water, with the main pipe being shared with several homes. There are broken main pipes, blockages, or water cut off due to renovations and other maintenance procedures. Sometimes the municipality will also direct water to other areas, including fire hydrants. All these reasons lead to water drops in homes.

When a large amount of water is removed from the mainline, such may lead to the water drawing back into the systems near the water points. Suppose you haven’t put backflow measures to your home. In that case, you will experience backflows that will suck water anywhere it is found, including toilets, gardens, drains, and other sources connected to the main system.

How to Prevent Backflow

Before preventing backflow, it is important to have your house inspected first. Backflow inspection helps to detect previous backflow preventive measures and the contamination of your pipes caused by the earlier backflows.

After the inspection is done, a professional plumbing company will install backflow preventer devices in the system, especially where freshwater and wastewater might be cross-connected. The installed device will remain open as long as there is water coming from the municipal supply line. However, if the flow has a lower pressure or cuts off, the device shuts down, preventing water from flowing back to the supply line.

There are two main ways of preventing backflows, as detailed below.

  • Hose Bib: This preventive measure involves installing a hose bib that acts as an outdoor water faucet. Spring in this hose bib allows water to flow in only one direction and shuts when the water dries up. This situation means that when water from the main supply line reduces, the spring closes, opening a valve that discharges back flowing water before it gets to the freshwater supply line.
  • Pressure Type Vacuum Breakers: this preventive measure involves a device installed in pipes that supply sprinklers and other water discharges. The device has a sensor that monitors the water pressure, and when the pressure drops, the device shuts down completely to prevent water flow until normal water supply resumes.

Therefore, you can discuss with the plumbing company to install any two devices to ensure that you don’t suffer backflows in your home. Depending on your home installations, the plumbing company might suggest making some modifications to the water system to ensure the backflow preventive measures installed works flawlessly, to your benefit.

Can a Backflow Preventer Cause Low Water Pressure?

There is a myth saying that you might not get the required water pressure in your home when you install a backflow preventer. That is not true. There is always a pressure-reducing valve (PRV) that is installed in most homes. This device regulates the water pressure that comes into your home and prevents too much pressure from damaging your home pipes. The water pressure in your home will only reduce if a pressure reducing valve (PRV) malfunctions.

Therefore, when you install the backflow preventer in your home, you shouldn’t worry about decreasing water pressure unless such happens from the municipal water supply pipes. Other reductions of water pressure in homes include corrosion or breakage of lines and when all households run their pipes simultaneously, which is partially impossible.

It is important to have your home checked for the backflow devices to ensure you are protected from the backflow issues. When you contact a reliable plumbing company, they will inspect your systems and give you options for installing these backflow prevention devices.

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