A backflow prevention device is used to protect potable water supplies from contamination or pollution due to backflow of contaminated or poisons potable drinking water into the pipe system, thus protecting your personal health and safety and to protect the integrity of the water authority’s asset.
In water supply systems, water is normally maintained at a significant pressure to enable water to flow from the tap, shower, or other fixture. Water pressure may fail or be reduced when a water main bursts, pipes freeze, or there is unexpectedly high demand on the water system (for example, when several fire hydrants are opened). Reduced pressure in the pipe may allow contaminated water from the soil, from storage, or from other sources to be drawn up into the system.
The simplest, most reliable way to provide backflow prevention is to provide an air gap. An air gap is simply an open vertical space between any device that connects to a plumbing system (like a valve or faucet) and any place where contaminated water can collect or pool. A simple air gap has no moving parts, other than flowing water. Many plumbing codes specify a minimum air gap distance required for various circumstances, such as a drain connection for a dishwasher. Alternatively, a specialized backflow preventer valve may be installed at strategic locations in the plumbing system wherever there is a risk of contaminated fluids entering the water supply pipes. These valves are used where there is not sufficient vertical clearance or physical space to install an air gap, or when pressurized operation or other factors rule out use of an air gap. Because these valves use moving parts, they are required to be inspected and tested.