Backflow Prevention, Backflow Valves, & Backflow Maintenance

The US Courts have deemed that water is a product and not a service to the public. The water purveyors (ie NorthPort Utilities) take the raw material and process this material through their factories (water plants) and then provide this product to their customers.  In the U.S., products which are sold  have an implied warranty that the products are usable. Water has a warranty that it is fit for human consumption.  As a result, North Port has undertaken their Backflow Prevention Program, requiring all homes to have backflow prevention installed and certified by a Certified Plumber.

North Port delivers the water through a series of pipes (transmission mains and distribution mains) to the customers’ water meters. Once the product (clean water) is delivered through the water meters to the customers, the water purveyor does not want this same water to return back through the meters and out into the public water supply.

Most customers manage to contaminate the water they use and normally this contaminated fluid passes to the waste collection system. Unfortunately the water sometimes reverses direction back through the water meter. This reversal of direction is called BACKFLOW. The most common type of backflow is backsiphonage. Backsiphonage is caused by a sudden loss of pressure in the public water mains. This loss of pressure can be caused by a broken water main, a fire nearby where the Fire Department is using large quantities of water, or simply by opening a fire hydrant to test it. Any buildings near the break or the fire hydrant being used will experience a lowering of the water pressure. This is the time backsiphonage occurs.

This is not a problem if everyone’s plumbing systems are built and maintained according to the plumbing code. Water might never be contaminated if:

* all customers’ plumbing systems were designed, constructed and inspected by individuals that fully understood the hydraulics of moving water.
* homeowners, who are allowed to make home improvements and repairs under “Home Rule”, fully understood hydraulics and the local plumbing code and would never think to take short cuts to save a few dollars.
* products sold at hardware stores, home improvement centers, and plumbing supply houses were absolutely safe to use under all hydraulic conditions.

Cross Connections

A cross connection is any potential or actual physical connection between potable water and a non potable fluid. These connections can range in severity from severe hazards (involving sewage or hazardous substances) to aesthetic problems (juice, dirt, etc.).   Examples of potential cross connections include automatic lawn sprinkler systems, fire sprinkler systems, carbonated beverage machines, carwashes, and dry cleaners. Even in your own home, you can unwittingly create a cross connection by putting the garden hose in a swimming pool, pet’s water bucket or fish tank to fill it or putting it down the drain to flush out debris when it’s backed up or connecting your garden hose to a plant fertilizer or bug spray unit.

Without protective devices and assemblies (referred to as backflow prevention assemblies), the potable water supply can become contaminated by any customer in the system. A Cross Connection Control Program is required by the  United States Environmental Protection Agency (through the Safe Drinking Water Act) to protect the public from contaminated water. This program calls for facility inspections to identify and eliminate cross connections as well as annual testing of backflow prevention assemblies.  The Backflow Preventers we see installed around North Port these days puts the city in conformity with these higher specifications & regulations.

Although many people are not aware of it, we see a common backflow preventor every day. The average household sink, whether in the bathroom or a kitchen, utilizes an air gap to prevent the potable water supply from becoming contaminated. Other appliances that utilize water (namely, clothes washers) have built-in backflow preventors as well. Some businesses, specifically hospitals and shops that use hazardous chemicals, are isolated from the rest of the system with heavy duty backflow prevention assemblies.

It is the City’s responsibility to protect customers from contaminated water; North Port’s Water and Building departments have been working together for some time with new construction to provide this protection. The recent mandate for installation of backflow prevention at all other (older) homes in North Port is based simply on the necessity to be able to continue for the city of North Port to provide water to its residents.  Precision Plumbing is on the Approved List of  certified plumbers approved by the city of North Port to install your backflow preventers, and is a much better solution than a randomly assigned vendor sent to your home simply to meet code.  Call us now for your Backflow solutions!