Backflow describes a condition where water flows in the opposite direction from which it’s intended – for instance, when a toilet backs up and spills sewage into your home. If you have a sprinkler system, backflow devices are required to prevent contamination of drinkable water.
What Cause Backflow?
Backflow can occur in two ways: back-siphoning and back pressure. In general, both types can be caused by a drop in the public water lines including both main and ancillary lines. When pressure drops unexpectedly, a vacuum effect can occur, which forces fluids and other materials backward through the water lines. As a result, fecal waste, pesticides, insecticides and other contaminants can be forced back through the drinking water supply. Drops in pressure can occur when a water line breaks, when fire hydrants are in use, or at other times when a large amount of water is allowed to leave the system suddenly, either intentionally or unintentionally.
In irrigation systems, malfunctions in pumps or injector devices due to breakdown, misuse or improper installation can cause pressure spikes that can create a similar sort of vacuum to occur, resulting in backflow to the potable (drinkable) water supply.
Backflow prevention devices are designed to protect the drinking water supply from the effects of uneven pressure drops. Installation of backflow prevention devices often requires a permit from your town or city to ensure proper installation and also to ensure the device will not cause additional backflow or pressure problems elsewhere in the public water supply system. Many towns and cities require commercial installations to conduct regular testing or obtain certification to ensure proper operation.
Types of Backflow Prevention Devices
There are several types of backflow prevention devices available, and the type you need depends on your irrigation system, your water supply and the demands placed on both. The primary types of devices include vacuum devices and pressure breakers. Backflow prevention devices may be installed at the point where the main water line enters your property, between the irrigation system and your home, at the hose or connectors, or at multiple points, depending on the configuration and size of your system. Designing a backflow prevention system that works is no easy task; technicians must be specifically trained in installation and maintenance to ensure the integrity of the drinking water supply is maintained.
At Garden Irrigation, we have more than four decades of irrigation experience, and we know how to design, install and maintain backflow prevention devices for both residential and commercial customers. Winter is an ideal time to determine if any upgrades need to be made before you turn your irrigation system on in the spring. To learn about your needs and to find out if your drinking water system is properly protected, give us a call today and schedule a consultation.