What is Backflow Testing?

The process of backflow testing is used to check and evaluate plumbing systems to make sure that drinking water is not being contaminated by dirty water infiltrating the water supply.

The water in our homes is kept at a standard pressure in order to allow water to move through our homes from one area to another. If the pipes are subjected to any drop in pressure because of freezing, bursting, or a really high increase in water usage of the water supply, contaminated water from a ground source or storage can enter the system.

If the pressure in a water system is not maintained, the risk for water flowing backward into the water system and become contaminated is increased by a high margin. Backflow testing monitors the safety and efficiency of the apparatus designed to protect and keep water purity. Backflow testing helps prevent water contamination and pollution.

Drinking water flows through pressurised water taps from the source to our water supplies. It usually flows in one direction but sometimes, it may flow in the opposite direction. Backflow happens when water runs backward through a water system. This water is not drinkable and may contaminate the drinking water supply. Backflow can be caused by a break in your water main supply or high demand from a water hydrant. Testing is necessary in those cases as you can never be sure when a backflow is going to happen.

Keeping water that is contaminated from external sources of water from flowing back to clean, uncontaminated water is the primary function of a backflow prevention device. Cross-connecting of water with the drinking water is avoided.

For most buildings, structures, and plumbing codes, a backflow prevention device is a must. Air gaps—the space in the water storage areas—is a common type of a backflow prevention device which connects to the check valve and plumbing system. This allows the water to flow in a single direction versus flowing backward to the homes.

Typically, a backflow prevention program is required on most units and there are strict testing requirements. Backflow prevention tools and apparatuses are also very much available and required.

It is the law that business owners have a backflow test performed annually at their buildings. A certified plumbing company needs to perform the test. The backflow testing process usually takes no more than thirty minutes to complete and that is if there are no repairs that need to be made. Valves are tested by opening and closing to check for any irregularities. A form is then submitted to the water authorities, ensuring that it meets the correct standards and that there are no code violations. Backflow could be a big, serious problem.

Backflow Testing

The Process

Before any tests can begin, plumbers have certain responsibilities. If the device that is being tested supplies any sort of fire line then you need to let the right people know before you shut off the lines.

  1. Observe and write down the conditions of the device assembly and surrounding areas.
  2. Record or confirm the manufacturer and the serial number, the model number, the size, and location of the device.

Once everything is done, the actual tests can begin. There are two main reasons of the test. Primarily, to see if backflow is present. Also to figure out the issue that is causing it, so that it can be fixed. The testing process uses valves on the backflow testing device, known as gate and relief valves. The plumber can close the valves and check for changes in gauge movement, water leaks, and other signs.

There are specific criteria that needs to be met for backflow testing, ensuring that the check valves prevent backflow and that the air ports open when they should.

Make sure that the relief valves are open, and the pressure between the check valves is less than three PSL below the pressure at on the inlet device.

There is nothing really specific a homeowner needs to do to prepare for a backflow test. They can help ease their lives and speed up the process by making sure everyone involved knows the water will be shut off for a while, and that they need to make different plans for water use or to perform those tasks beforehand.