Sufficient pipe pressure is important in guaranteeing that your home, apartment or business receives a proper supply of water. A reduction in pressure can create a potential hazard to you and your family by increasing the chance of water contamination. Backflow testing is designed to reduce the possibility of such contamination.
Under normal circumstances, a water system will have enough pressure to provide water to faucets, showers, and outside fixtures. A break in or freezing of the water pipe or unusually high demand for water can significantly reduce pressure. Water that contains contaminates of many types can under the circumstances be drawn into the regular water supply. The sources of contaminated backflowing water can include pumps in the water distribution system, boilers, and even power washing equipment.
There are many ways to protect yourself from such backflow. An air gap in the system is the simplest way. Protection can also be provided through actual mechanisms, including check valves, and reduced pressure devices. Mechanical backflow preventers have parts that, as with other forms of machinery, can break down or wear out over time. Whatever the prevention system, it should be given periodic backflow tests, usually at least once every year. Backflow testing should be done by trained personnel. Many plumbing businesses offer this service to customers.
A backflow test needs to be conducted under a "no-flow" condition, in which the water is turned off to the building or residence. In the event the water serves a multiple-residential property, everyone will have to be informed of the test. Backflow testing obviously becomes more difficult in a commercial property, such as an office building or medical clinic, which normally require an uninterrupted supply of water. Before the test can be carried out, it is important for the property owner to know what type of backflow prevention is being used and the direction of the water flow.
Local water suppliers are responsible for assuring that drinking water remains safe, and backflow testing is often required by state and local governments. However, backflow testing of your supply system will further ensure the safety of your domestic water.