Backflow Prevention – The FAQs

Backflow Prevention – The FAQs

In plumbing, backflow is defined as the unwanted reversal of the flow of water. Backflow is as it sounds, water flowing in a reverse direction than it was intended. It is dangerous because it can result in the contamination of potable (drinkable) water.

Backflow results when cross-connections between potable water systems and non-potable water systems stray from normal, potentially allowing tainted water to enter public potable water distribution systems. In Palm Beach County, as in most localities, certain customers are required to install, maintain, and test backflow prevention assemblies in an effort to protect public drinking water and the drinking water distribution system.

The Causes of Backflow – Backsiphonage and Backpressure

Backflow results from backsiphonage or backpressure. Backsiphonage occurs when there is a sudden reduction in water pressure from a water main break or a firefighting scenario in the public drinking water distribution system causing a potential water flow reversal. The result is suction which can draw contaminated water into the potable water system.

Backpressure happens when the pressure of a private non-potable water system surpasses the pressure of the public potable water system to which it is connected. A recirculating system with acid, soap, or antifreeze could be the cause which has the potential to force polluted water into the public drinking water system.

Preventing Backflow

In Palm Beach County and other localities, the public drinking water system is protected through the Palm Beach County Water Utilities Department. The Department requires the installation and maintenance of a reduced pressure principle assembly for all non-resident accounts, as well as buildings greater than three stories and new residential services with large potable water meters.

The backflow prevention assembly uses valves in various configurations to prevent non-potable water from reversing flow into the public potable water distribution system. The assemblies installed must be approved and testable. In Palm Beach County, only testable backflow preventers that complete the testing processes at the University of Southern California’s Foundation for Hydraulic Research and Cross Connection Control are recognized and approved for use.

If you are a new customer who is connecting to a newly installed water service, you will be given written notification if a backflow preventer is required. As a new customer connecting to a water service with an existing backflow prevention assembly, you will receive written notification regarding annual backflow testing.

For existing customers with backflow preventers already installed, you will receive written notice regarding annual testing. Backflow preventers must meet written notification testing requirements as set forth by the Palm Beach County Water Utilities Department. If you are not compliant, your water service may be discontinued.

The Proper Installation of Backflow Prevention Assemblies

In Palm Beach County, the Palm Beach County Water Utilities Department requires installation, annual testing, and maintenance of backflow preventers by recognized Backflow Prevention Technicians, who are State/County licensed plumbing contractors and their employees certified as Backflow Prevention Assembly Testers.

Backflow preventers must be placed on the customer side of the water meter, installed according to the manufacturer’s specifications, and be in accordance with the Palm Beach County Plumbing code and Palm Beach County Water Utilities Department’s engineering standards. It cannot hinder maintenance access to the meter.

It must be installed on private property as the customer owns the backflow preventer and is responsible for hiring a Certified Backflow Prevention Technician for installation, maintenance, and testing of the device.

Finding an Approved Certified Backflow Prevention Technician

Look no further than Flamingo Plumbing & Backflow Services for an Approved Certified Backflow Prevention Technician. After your initial installation, your backflow preventer will be tested by an employee of the Palm Beach County Water Utilities Department. Annual testing thereafter, as well as needed repairs or replacement will be performed by your Certified Backflow Prevention Technician from Flamingo Plumbing & Backflow Services.