What is a backflow valve? (ESSENTIAL Part!)

Backflow prevention devices are used to protect drinking water from being contaminated by outside sources. When water pressure is reversed from its normal direction, it can cause problems for municipal water systems or home plumbing. A backflow valve is one of the most common devices used to prevent this kind of contamination and protect your water supply. 

These valves help to reduce the risk of backflow contamination by ensuring that only clean, safe water flows through pipes in one direction. Backflow prevention devices are generally classified as either substandard or above-standard protection based on their ability to resist backflow contaminants from entering a potable water supply.

 Backflow prevention devices should be installed when a property’s drinking water source (e.g., well, cistern, creek, stream) is located below its point of use, as this increases the risk of backflow contamination due to natural pressures within the system. Installing backflow prevention devices also protects against potential risks. They are installed on the main water supply. Essentially, it is a flapper that closes when water flows in the other direction. The water is under quite a lot of pressure and should only flow in one direction. If something goes wrong and the water flows back, the valve closes and stops the water flow.

They can be found in faucets and showers as well. Cheaper faucets might not have this. For this reason, you are not allowed to install them as a backflow is often required in faucets as well. It is important to check this when you buy a faucet online as most people are not aware of this.

What Does a Backflow Valve Do?

Backflow valves are designed to protect your water supply from contamination by making sure that the water flowing through your pipes is flowing in one direction only — away from your water supply. If someone or something causes water to flow back toward the source of your drinking water, that water may be contaminated by bacteria, viruses, or other contaminants found in the source water.

 Contaminants could include pesticides, solvents, acids, heavy metals, or microorganisms like bacteria. Water pipes or showers can get dirty and contain these elements. If they get into the water supply of your home, it can spread to other houses and cause problems for a whole neighborhood. To avoid this, we add a backflow.

A backflow is required. If you don’t have one and the water gets contaminated, you can get a hefty fine as they have to clean a lot of pipes. Home inspectors will make sure that they check this.

A backflow valve costs a few hundred USD and lasts more than 10 years.

Types of Backflow Valves

Double-check valves are the most common type of backflow valve. Double-check valves have two regulating points: a low-pressure port and a high-pressure port. The low-pressure port is used to connect the water line to the source supply, while the high-pressure port is used to connect the water line to the potable water supply. When a sudden increase in water pressure is detected at the high-pressure port, the pressure differential is communicated to the low-pressure port and causes the valve to shut off the flow of water. This causes a vacuum in the line that prevents backflow contamination from entering the water supply.

However, there are other types of backflow valves that are still commonly used today. These include ball, pressure vacuum breakers, and check valves. Ball valves are commonly installed in irrigation systems. Pressure vacuum breakers have the same design as double-check valves, with one major difference: they have a movable piston that “breaks” the vacuum as pressure decreases. Check valves are used when there is a risk of contamination on both sides of the valve.

Industrial and commercial buildings have advanced backflow systems to make sure that dirty water doesn’t get into the freshwater supply. Water companies spend a lot of time monitoring the quality of the water to make sure that it is clean and pure. This is why you can often drink from the water supply.

When to Replace a Backflow Valve

Backflow valves should be checked regularly for wear and tear, as they are often exposed to high levels of water pressure and are at risk of breaking down over time. You should also replace your backflow valve if you notice any signs of wear and tear (e.g., corrosion, leaks, etc.) or if there has been a recent change in your water source. If the water source at your property changes, you may need to install a new backflow prevention device to protect against backflow contamination. 

This is quite easy to do. You have to close the main water supply. Then you drain the pipes by opening faucets. Once this is done, we can open up the water pipe and install the new backflow valve. This approach depends on the material of the pipe (copper, steel, or PEX). There is an arrow on the backflow valve that indicates the direction in which you have to install it. Once it is done, we can open the main water supply to test the installation. In some instances, you will need to get it inspected by a professional to confirm that it has been installed properly.  A plumber can do this for you as well. This should take less than 1 hour to get done. Make sure that it doesn’t leak.

Backflow valves are typically only replaced when a house gets renovated. In most instances, this system lasts several decades. It is possible that your water company checks your backflow valve to make sure that it works properly.

 To conclude, we can state that backflow valves are essential in modern plumbing systems. They keep the water clean and safe and make sure that everyone can enjoy the city water. Each plumbing system must have one. It is required to have one as it can save you from a lot of problems. Industrial systems have bigger and more advanced backflow preventers.

In the past, there used to be problems with water quality. Backflow preventers are systems that make sure that the water stays clean. Water companies spend a lot of time making sure that the water is drinkable.