Everything You Need to Know About Backflow Testing

Everything You Need to Know About Backflow Testing

Backflow prevention testing and backflow test reports

If you don’t know what backflow prevention is, have never heard of backflow testing, and had no idea that backflow testing reports were a thing, you’re not alone. At Green Planet Plumbing we have found that many people are unfamiliar with the problem of backflow, why it needs to be prevented, how backflow testing works, why it needs to be done, who can do it and what the heck a backflow test report is. So, let’s dive on into ‘backflow’.

What is backflow?

Backflow refers to the unintended reverse flow of water from a property back into the drinking water supply. Water in your home is generally kept at a constant and standard pressure, to enable the consistent flow of water to all water outlets in your home, such as your shower, sinks and toilets.

Backflow can occur if:

  • there is a drop in water pressure – for example, if a pipe freezes or bursts, a pump fails, system maintenance is being carried out by the water supply authority
  • the water pressure on a property is higher than the pressure at the water main – for example, if a pump is operating at the site
  • there is a higher than usual demand on the water supply – for example the increased demand created by fire extinguishing
  • there are cross connections in a user’s premises – for example, through faulty plumbing, where garden hoses are submerged in tanks, pools, or buckets.

Backflow is a serious issue because it can result in potentially contaminated water entering the drinking water supply that may include bacteria, chemicals, oil, mud, and other debris.

What is a backflow prevention device?

What is a backflow prevention device?

To safeguard public health and protect public drinking (potable) water stores and its supply system, every property that is connected to mains water is required to have appropriate backflow prevention measures in place. One of the means of preventing backflow is to install a backflow prevention device at specific locations in your property’s plumbing system, where there is an identified risk of contaminated water flowing back into the supply system.

Water supply authorities typically require a backflow prevention device be fitted to the mains fresh water supply pipe, generally on the water meter, at the property’s boundary. The property owner must have their site inspected by a licensed plumber with backflow prevention accreditation issued by a registered training organisation (a ‘backflow plumber’), who will assess the site’s hazard rating and advise the property owner of the property’s backflow prevention requirements. The hazard rating determines the type of backflow prevention device required.

Many smaller water meters, appropriate for installation at properties with a low hazard rating, are fitted with a simple, non-testable backflow prevention device. Separate backflow devices are required for low hazard rated properties with an unmetered connection.

Medium and high hazard rated properties and low hazard properties that have larger water meters also require a separate backflow device to be installed. The property owner is responsible for ensuring the installation of a backflow prevention device that is appropriate for their property, as defined by its hazard rating.

The fully licensed plumber who installs the backflow prevention device must ensure it is appropriate to the property’s hazard rating and must advise the property owner of the maintenance and testing requirements for the device that has been fitted. While the device can generally be installed by any licensed plumber it must be commissioned and have initial testing completed by an accredited backflow compliance plumber.

What is backflow testing?

What is backflow testing?

Backflow testing ensures prevention devices are functioning correctly. Testing may be conducted in a variety of ways, in accordance to AS/NZS 2845.3 – Water supply – Backflow prevention devices – Field testing and maintenance of testable devices, depending on the type of device installed.

Testable backflow prevention devices must be tested at the time of installation, as part of the commissioning process. Following installation, the property owner is responsible for ensuring that testable devices are properly maintained and routinely tested, as many contain parts that are subject to failure, such as internal seals, springs, and valves. This requirement applies to both residential and commercial property owners.

How often does backflow testing need to be done?

The requirements for testing backflow devices are determines the type of device required, which is determined by the site’s hazard rating.

Low hazard rated property testing

Most residential properties with standalone houses are considered low hazard. This means that the risk they pose to the water supply system may be considered a nuisance but does not endanger health.

Low hazard properties generally do not require a testable prevention device to be installed. Many smaller water meters (generally, 20mm and 25mm meters), which are suitable for use on low hazard properties, have simple, non-testable backflow prevention devices incorporated into them. Low hazard properties with separate backflow devices on unmetered water connections or larger water meters do not necessarily need to be testable. An accredited backflow compliance plumber will be able to advise you of the requirements for your property.

Medium hazard rated property testing

Medium hazard rated properties are those assessed as posing a risk to the water supply system that has the potential to endanger public health. Such properties require a testable prevention device, with many water supply authorities typically requiring installation of a device with a double check valve. These devices must be checked and tested when they are first installed and commissioned, and then re-tested annually.

High hazard rated property testing

High hazard rated properties are those assessed as posing a risk to the water supply system that has the potential to cause death. Such properties require a testable backflow prevention device, with many water supply authorities typically requiring installation of a reduced pressure zone, registered break tank or registered air gap. These must be tested when they are first installed and commissioned, and then re-tested annually.

Who can test backflow prevention devices?

Who can test backflow prevention devices?

Only accredited backflow plumbers are authorised to test backflow prevention devices. Once testing has been completed, the accredited backflow tester must submit an approved test certification report to the water supplier, to certify that the device has been tested and is operational, in good repair and complies with AS/NZS 2845: Water Supply – Backflow Prevention Devices.

This certification report must be submitted to the water supplier within a set timeframe, which can vary from one water supplier to another. A local accredited backflow plumber will be familiar with the requirements for submitting the report to your local water supplier.

Contact Green Planet Plumbing for all your Backflow Testing needs

Green Planet Plumbing has an unbeatable reputation as Newcastle’s most environmentally friendly plumbers, coupled with timely and reliable service and the highest standards of workmanship. Our licensed plumbers and accredited backflow compliance testers are ready to help you with all your backflow prevention and testing needs.

But wait, there’s more! Green Planet offers a huge range of plumbing and home maintenance services – check out our services page for more information!

For peace of mind knowing that you are getting the best (and greenest) backflow prevention and testing services in Newcastle, contact Green Planet Plumbing Newcastle today by calling 02 4911 9402. Alternatively, send an email to hello@greenplanetplumbing.com.au or complete our enquiry form and one of our friendly team members will contact you shortly.