What is Backflow in Plumbing?

Backflow is a term used to describe the unwanted flow of water in your home’s plumbing system in the opposite direction. It’s one of those plumbing issues that require immediate attention because backflow can contaminate your potable water with wastewater. Not only that, but it can also lead to corroded pipes and other plumbing problems down the line. Understanding what backflow is and how to fix it is crucial to ensure you have clean water when you open the tap. Read on to discover the most common causes of backflow and how you can prevent it from happening by engaging with a backflow prevention specialist in Perth.

What causes backflow?

There are plenty of reasons why backflow is occurring in your home’s plumbing. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Backpressure – Backpressure is when the pressure inside the pipes pushes gas or water in the opposite direction. This happens when water heaters are not supplied with enough vents or outlets. The pressure then starts to rise when the water is being heated and is what pushes the water backwards.
  • Backsiphonage – Backsiphonage is the reversal of flow in the plumbing system due to negative pressure in the supply piping. Back-siphonage typically occurs in toilets and sinks and is often caused by a stoppage in the water supply due to breaks or repairs in the city mains.
  • Sewerage pipe damage – Sewerage pipes are responsible for carrying wastewater from your home to the sewer system. These pipes are subject to wear and tear and can deteriorate over time. Once they do, it can lead to serious backflow issues in your home. The signs are very obvious  Foul smell and leaks from your drains are a major sign of sewerage pipes damage.

Local source damage – There are instances where the cause of the backflow cannot be detected in your plumbing. It’s a difficult problem to deal with since you will need the assistance of your local authorities. However, you can still hire the services of professional plumbers in case there’s local source damage in your plumbing. They will assist you in dealing with the backflow and help prevent further damage.

How to prevent backflow in your home’s plumbing

There are a couple of backflow prevention techniques that are quite useful in preventing the unwanted flow of water. Modern fixtures such as sinks and faucets already have some form of backflow prevention designed into them, but they’re not always guaranteed to eliminate the problem. There are two main types of backflow prevention, though the mechanical type can also be broken down into several sub-types that each accomplishes the job through different processes.

  • Air Gap –  An air gap is the simplest backflow prevention method that plumbers use to address backflow concerns. In a plumbing system, potable water and wastewater are intended to flow through different pipes to avoid contamination. Even with this design, there is always a risk of backflow, after which wastewater cannot properly find the right pipe and enters the freshwater supply line.

    Since an air gap is basically an empty unobstructed vertical space that prevents potable and non-potable water from intermingling, you don’t need to install any other mechanical device. An air gap is usually found in most modern fixtures today such as sinks and faucets
  •  Backflow Prevention Device – In many instances, the use of a backflow prevention device is needed. These are mechanical devices that are fitted to the plumbing system.. While an air gap used to create a natural anti-backflow solution, backflow prevention devices create a physical barrier that is more effective at keeping unwanted water flow from occurring.

The Main Types Of Backflow Prevention Devices

There are four main types of backflow prevention devices that a backflow prevention professional may need to use to control your issue. Depending on the cause of your problem and the water system in your property, one of the following options may be installed.

  • Pressure Vacuum Breaker Assembly – This uses a spring-loaded check valve and dual shutoff valves to prevent back-siphonage. However, it may not be effective for backpressure backflow but can still be used for health or non-health hazards in the waterline.
  • Reduced Pressure Backflow Prevention Assembly – This device uses two spring-loaded check valves and a hydraulically operating relief valve.
  • Spill-Resistant Pressure Vacuum Breaker Assembly – A device that features internally loaded check valves and an air inlet valve that is independently operated on the discharge side of the check valve.

    Double Check Valve Assembly – This backflow prevention device uses two spring-loaded check valves and shutoffs at each end of the assembly. It’s a good option for both backpressure backflow as well as back-siphonage.

Knowing what causes backflow and how you can prevent it can go a long way towards ensuring you have a clean water supply in your home. We highly recommend contacting an experienced professional to help you address any backflow issues in your home plumbing system.. They’ll examine the lines, test for backflow problems, identify underlying conditions, and then fix them as soon as possible. And, they can answer any additional questions that you may have about this problem.

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