Backflow Basics


What is Backflow?
Drinking water flows from the source to your tap in pressurized water pipes. Typically it only flows in one direction, although under certain circumstances it can flow in the opposite direction, or “backflow.” This can be caused by things such as a water main break or high demand at a fire hydrant. When backflow occurs, water runs backward through the water system. The water flowing backward often is non-potable and might contaminate the drinking water supply.

What is Backflow Testing?
The majority of backflow assemblies include a check valve or valves, a set of springs, and occasionally a relief valve. Each of these mechanical internal components must be tested annually and maintained if necessary. During a backflow test, the assembly is pressurized and then each part is isolated to ensure it is operating at an acceptable level. The check valves must hold a minimum pressure to pass the inspection, and the relief valves must open before a certain pressure differential is reached. Repairs must be performed if minimum standards are not met.

What is a cross connection?
A cross connection is any connection between piping that carries drinking water and piping that carries non-potable water. When a cross connection exists, a backflow device is required so that the water’s taste or odor is not affected and harmful chemicals do not enter the drinking water. Common cross connections include sprinkler and irrigation systems, hot tubs, pools, fire suppression systems, radiant heating systems, boilers, soda fountain machines, and auxiliary water systems (wells).  If you have any of these, please call us today. We can help to ensure your water is safe.

Is testing required?
Numerous state regulations require all backflow prevention devices to be tested annually. These devices are required to keep the water that passes through them and into the plumbing system beyond them from coming back into the water supply, while protecting the quality and safety of the drinking water system. Just like the individual parts of your car, backflow prevention devices have parts that can break down and wear out. Annual backflow tests can help to ensure the drinking water supplied to your home remains safe. Not sure whether your system needs a backflow assembly device or an annual test?

Contact us today – call 503-491-9402 or email us through the “contact us” link.

Other Frequently Asked Questions:

What is a backflow preventer?

What does a backflow preventer look like and where is it located?

What is backflow prevention service?