Understanding Plumbing Backflow

Backflow happens when water flows backward through a pipe. Backflow is a typical plumbing emergency and can be prevented by regularly flushing toilets and ensuring bathtubs and sinks are clean. However, if you notice water flowing backward through your pipes, you should call a professional.

Types of Backflow

Changes in system pressure cause backflow. In general, there are two types of backflow: backpressure and back-siphonage.

Back Pressure occurs when the water pressure in the pipe is greater than the water pressure in the fixture. This is usually caused by a blocked spout, a malfunctioning valve, or a broken pipe. Water pressure eventually builds up in the pipe, causing the water in the line to flow backward.

Back siphonage occurs when the water pressure drops. When the main water supply is turned off, the water pressure in the fixture drops, causing the water in the fixture to flow backward. This often happens during a power outage or main line break.

Dangers of Backflow

Backflow can cause damage to your home and your plumbing system. A significant problem with backflow can lead to water damage and mold. In the worst cases, backflow can also cause sewage backup and flooding. This can be a severe health hazard.

Backflow Prevention

Homeowners are encouraged to install a backflow check valve in their plumbing system. A backflow check valve is a device that prevents water from flowing backward in the pipe.

Different types of backflow check valves are available. It’s best to have a professional plumber install a backflow check valve, as they will know which type of valve is best and how to stay up to code in your area.

Other methods of preventing backflow include:

  • Regular plumbing inspections can keep the countertops safe
  • Immediate repair of damages to the plumbing system
  • Monitoring of the water pressure
  • Rapid clearing of drainage clogs

It’s important to understand that check valves and other backflow prevention devices are not a guarantee that backflow will not occur. Many factors can cause backflows, such as improperly installed valves, foundation drainage, and poor maintenance.

What To Do During A Backflow Emergency

Shut off the water supply to your home to prevent further damage and contamination. Contact a professional plumber immediately, preferably a backflow specialist service. They will be able to determine the cause of the backflow and fix it as quickly as possible. In some extreme cases, you may have to replace the entire backflow system.

Finding A Backflow Specialist Service

What to look for:

  • A licensed plumber should provide service.
  • Involved with safety and quality control programs or organizations (such as the American Society of Safety Engineers).
  • A record of proper backflow prevention.

How to find it:

If you have internet access at the time, a simple search will turn up a list of qualified backflow specialists in your area. Search engines such as Google will deliver targeted results based on your location, provided you allow it to access your device’s GPS information. So if you live in Chicago, a search for ‘backflow testing near me‘ will give a list of such businesses based on distance from you within Chicago.

You have more analog options if you’re experiencing outages of power or internet service. If your community still receives a phone book, you can look up plumbing services in the yellow pages. The phone book is in alphabetical order, according to business type, so you should start with the ‘P’ section.

If you do not have a phone book, another option is to contact 411. Yes, 411 services are still available, and they can provide you with a list of businesses in your area. Most of them do charge a fee for this service.

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