What is a backflow preventer?
Backflow preventers are mechanical plumbing devices installed in a plumbing system to prevent water from flowing backward in the system. A properly installed, tested and maintained backflow preventer at the service entrance to a building or property can reliably prevent the backflow of water of an unknown quality from flowing back into the community water system.
Are all backflow preventers the same?
No. There are many different types of backflow preventers. The degree of hazard and type of installation and location will determine the type of Backflow preventer.
Different types of backflow preventers:
- Reduced Pressure Principle Assembly RP Assembly is designed to protect against a non-health hazard (i.e., pollutant) or a health hazard (i.e., contaminant).
- Pressure Vacuum Breaker PVB Assembly is designed to protect against a non-health hazard (i.e., pollutant) or a health hazard (i.e., contaminant).
- Spill-Resistant Pressure Vacuum Breaker SVB Assembly is designed to protect against a non-health hazard (i.e., pollutant) or a health hazard (i.e., contaminant).
- Double Check Valve Assembly DC Assembly is designed to protect against a non-health hazard (i.e., pollutant).
- Atmospheric Vacuum Breaker AVB Assembly is designed to protect against a non-health hazard (i.e., pollutant) or a health hazard (i.e., contaminant) under a back-siphon age condition only.
What type of maintenance do backflow preventers require?
Backflow preventers have to be tested within 10 days of initial use. Backflow preventers then have to be re-certified annually. Testing and re-certifying are the owner’s responsibility. All testing and certification must be completed by a certified backflow tester.
What is Backflow?
Backflow is the undesirable reversal of the flow of water from its intended direction in any pipeline or plumbing system. Backflow is dangerous because it can allow drinking water in plumbing systems to become contaminated and unusable.
Causes of Backflow
Backflow occurs as a result of a “cross-connection” within the water system. A cross connection exists when there is any actual or potential connection between a potable water system and any other source or system through which it is possible to introduce into the potable system any used water or substance.
Certified Backflow Technicians
The State of Utah requires that backflow devices be tested by a certified backflow technician. The State of Utah has three types of backflow testers:
(a) Class I Backflow Technician – Cross Connection Control Program Administrator: This certificate shall be issued to those individuals who are involved in administering a cross connection control program, who have demonstrated their knowledge and ability by successfully completing the approved certification examination.
(i) These individuals may not test, maintain or repair any backflow prevention assembly for purposes of submitting legal documentation of the operational status of a backflow prevention assembly, including performance of any record test demonstrating backflow prevention assembly compliance with required standards. These individuals may test to ensure proper testing techniques are being utilized within their jurisdiction.
(ii) These individuals may conduct plan/design reviews, hazard assessment investigations, compliance inspections, and enforce local laws, codes, rules and regulations and policies within their jurisdictions, and offer technical assistance as needed. The HWID technicians are Class I Operators and cannot test backflow assemblies.
This certificate shall be issued to those individuals who have demonstrated their knowledge and ability by successfully completing the approved written and performance certification examinations in order to be able to test backflow assemblies for record.
(i) This certificate shall be issued to those individuals who have successfully completed a 3-year renewal cycle as a Class II Technician and in addition have proven qualified and competent to Instruct approved Backflow Technician Certification classes by participating in and successfully completing an approved Class III certification course.
(ii) In order to successfully complete a Class III certification course, the applicant shall be required to make a presentation about one or more randomly picked topics in backflow prevention, successfully demonstrating the applicant’s knowledge of the subject. The applicant shall also successfully complete a performance examination in a manner that demonstrates knowledge and skill with randomly selected available testing equipment; the applicant shall identify, diagnose and document malfunctions of the backflow assembly and verify the design operating criteria are achieved.
(iii) Class III Backflow Technicians will also be required to attend additional training provided periodically by the Division to ensure knowledge of any regulatory changes and to ensure consistency in the evaluation of applicants.
Class II or III Technicians can test backflow assemblies. A list of certified technicians can be
found here: https://waterlink.utah.gov/deqWater/public/publicBackflowComm.html
- Acceptable Types of Backflow Preventers for Culinary Landscape Irrigation: Atmospheric Vacuum Breaker (AVB)
- Pressure Vacuum Breaker (PVB)
- Reduced Pressure Principle Assembly (RP)
- Spill Resistant Vacuum Breaker (SVB)
- *Double Check Valve Assembly (DC) DC’s are not approved for Landscape Irrigation Systems
Pressurized Secondary Water (nondrinking water private wells)
Pressurized secondary water is non-potable water commonly used for watering lawns. Landscape irrigation systems that are only fed by secondary water are not required to have any form of backflow protection. However, you may want to trace plumbing lines to ensure there is not a direct cross connection between culinary and secondary systems. If you are unsure how to verify your plumbing is not at risk, contact a licensed plumber or Hooper Water Improvement District backflow technician Tyler Britt at 801-814-2172.
Pressurized culinary water is potable drinking water and is commonly used for watering lawns. Landscape irrigation systems that utilize culinary water are required to have a backflow preventer installed and cannot be hooked to any other source of water, i.e.pressurized irrigation or private well.
Landscape Irrigation Cross-Connections
If your irrigation system is able to utilize both secondary and culinary water, it is likely that you have a direct cross-connection. If this is the case, please immediately contact Hooper Water Improvement District, backflow technician at 801-814-2172.
One of the efforts toward a clean water supply is something residents can help with directly. The Districts entire water supply can easily become contaminated from backflow or back siphonage. This happens when non-drinkable water is pulled back into the pipes due to a change in water
pressure in the system. For example, a garden hose left submerged in a pool or fish pond may pull the non-drinkable water back into the pipes in a resident’s home if the water pressure changes.
Atmospheric Vacuum Breaker
Did you know that leaving a garden hose submerged in any type of liquid can be siphoned into your drinking water and cause serious health effects? An atmospheric Vacuum Breaker can be installed on the tap to protect the home from unwanted liquids getting into the drinking water.
Chemical dispensers are a common fixture in commercial enterprises. They are also a serious risk to water quality. It is important that backflow preventers are not only installed but also installed properly.
Thermal Expansion or Expansion Tanks
Plumbing codes now require thermal expansion tanks to be installed on all facilities utilizing hot water storage. When backflow preventers are installed on systems, having a thermal expansion tank becomes even more important. Hooper Water Improvement Districts standard is to install a
backflow preventer on all new residential meters.
Water supply systems are pressurized in order to enable water to flow from taps, showers, and faucets in homes. However, when water pressure fails or is reduced or reversed as may happen in the case of a water main burst, a frozen pipe, or an unexpected demand on the water system, the pressure in the pipe may be reduced and may flow backward allowing contaminated water to be drawn into the system.
To prevent backflow from happening, residents can install a simple and inexpensive atmospheric vacuum breaker which attaches easily to hose bibs. For help with installation and maintenance, contact Hooper Water Improvement Districts backflow technician at 801-814-2172