Having a backflow preventer may seem like a waste of money to those who don’t understand them. The fact is, they’re part of Ontario’s building code for a reason. POM Plumbing would like to talk a bit about how they work and why they’re necessary to maintain.
What is a Backflow Preventer?
A backflow preventer keeps contaminated water from ending up in the water supply. How does it do that? It’s simple. Each home typically has one input of fresh water. This water is used for the whole house, including drinking water.
There’s a split in the incoming water line that sends some of it to the yard for irrigation purposes. The backflow preventer is situated at the beginning of the irrigation line. It ensures that water from the yard doesn’t get sucked backwards, contaminating the drinking water for your municipality.
Is It Necessary?
Yes! While it may seem counter-intuitive for water to move backwards, it’s possible. The pressure from the municipal water source may keep it moving forward normally, but what if it’s turned off? When the water is turned off, water still in the incoming water pipe will begin to move backward, returning to the source. That includes water from the irrigation line. This is true even if the irrigation line is lower than the other. By the power of siphoning, it suctions the water in the line and pulls it back in. If you’ve never seen siphoning in action, it’s worth looking up on Youtube.
Any dirty groundwater or even fecal matter from the dog can end up in the irrigation line. You don’t want that water anywhere near your drinking water. And the fact is, it’s not just your water! Backflow will run back to the source for the whole municipality. That means just one person in the municipality can contaminate the whole source if they decide to get rid of their backflow preventer. It’s illegal to remove it anyway, under Ontario building code, and you could get a hefty fine.
Backflow preventers are an incredibly important mechanism for your water system. The thing is, they need maintenance. If you keep having trouble with your preventer, it’s probably because you need a plumber. Having a professional come out to take a look at it can keep it running smoothly. A little TLC once every year or two will keep it from causing any trouble.
Part of backflow preventer maintenance is testing it. This ensures it’s working its best and not risking contamination of the water supply. POM Plumbing offers help with backflow preventer testing. Then, you can rest easy knowing that you’re doing your part to keep the water clean.
If you’d like to talk to a professional about scheduling backflow preventer maintenance or testing, give us a call. We’re available every day of the week and on holidays, so no time is off-limits. We look forward to hearing from you!