Water should always flow through pipes in the same direction. But what if the flow reverses and the water starts moving in the opposite direction? Plumbers call this unwanted phenomenon backflow. It’s also one of the most serious plumbing issues property owners face. Keep reading to learn all about backflows and how to prevent a backflow in your home.
Modern plumbing systems are pretty genius. The design guides the water in one direction, ensuring potable water and wastewater don’t mix. Backflow occurs when a problem arises in the pipes. Instead of flushing down the drain, dirty water flows back up out of the fixture.
Homeowners often mistake backflows for simple clogs. But clogs only stop wastewater from flowing down the drain. They can’t reverse the direction of the water. Pressure changes—not clogs—cause backflows. There are two main types: back-pressure and back-siphonage.
A back-pressure backflow occurs when downstream pressure exceeds the pressure of the main water source. Negative pressure in the line causes back-siphonage backflows. A break in the line, flushing, construction, and firefighting are a few reasons for these pressure changes.
Backflows are hazardous. Drinking or bathing in contaminated water puts your family’s health at risk. Luckily, there are a few prevention techniques available. Here are the two most common methods used:
Method #1: Add an Air Gap to Prevent a Backflow
An air gap is a fundamental, non-mechanical way to maintain the pressure in your plumbing pipes. It’s simply a space between the water supply outlet and the flood level of a fixture. And, this separation keeps a positive force in the line.
Most kitchen sinks already have an air gap. Most importantly, it ensures dirty wastewater can’t find its way back into the faucet. Dishwashers, washing machines, and bathtubs also rely on this feature to prevent backflows. A plumber can easily install an air gap if one of these fixtures doesn’t already have one.
Method #2: Install a Backflow Prevention Device
Finally, not every plumbing fixture has enough available room to support an air gap. In these instances, installing a backflow preventer is a must. These devices rely on mechanical parts to monitor and maintain water pressure. There are multiple options available, including:
- Pressure vacuum breaker assembly
- Reduced pressure assembly
- Hose bib backflow preventer
- Double-check valve
- Barometric loop
Prevention devices have valves that open and close to stop potential backflows. Hence, they act as a one-way street. Water can only flow through the pipes in a single, uniform direction. Once the water flows out, the valves ensure it can’t get back inside. A plumber will help you choose which device is best for your home.
Backflow Prevention from the Plumbing Experts
Wastewater should never find its way into the drinkable supply. So, Armor Plumbing offers prevention services to ensure the water in your pipes only flows in one direction. Our plumbers can install devices to maintain water pressure and stop flow reversal. Ready to get started? Schedule service today to prevent a backflow from forming in your plumbing system.