Backflow happens when water flows in the opposite direction than what’s intended, and it boils down to pressure — either your water system has an unusual buildup of pressure and is pushing water out, or the main supply lines act as a vacuum and suction water in. The respective technical terms are back pressure or back siphonage. But whether it’s a push or a pull, the result is the same: water is being drawn out of your home’s pipes into the public supply.
Common scenarios can cause backflow:
- Hydrant in use
- Water main break
- Prolonged power outage
- Water turned off during projects
When backflow happens, a backflow preventer keeps dirty, contaminated water from entering the main water supply lines. This action protects your family’s drinking water and also keeps pollutants from entering the public water system.
Backflow Signs to Look For
Whether you have a backflow device installed in your home or not, keeping an eye out for these symptoms will let you know that there is an issue to address:
- Fluctuation in water pressure
- Cloudy or discolored water
- Foul-smelling water
- Visible rust particles or sediment
- Bad-tasting water
- Slow or erratic drainage
But there may not be obvious, physical signs. That’s why if your home has any of the following, a backflow preventer is always required:
- Whole-house humidifier
- Fire sprinklers
- Lawn irrigation
- Plumbed water fountain, pond, pool, or hot tub
- Private well cross-connected with public water supply
- Structure with an exterior potable water fixture located near a permanent body of non-potable water
Backflow is a serious health and safety concern. Pollutants, harmful chemicals, and dangerous organic material could be mixed into the water supply and end up in the community’s drinking water. And proper installation is key — if it’s outdoors and not well-insulated, a backflow preventer can freeze like any other pipe. So if you ever see water leaking from your backflow preventer, it’s definitely time to call in an expert.
Professional Installation, Testing, and Maintenance
Device types vary, but PlumbV professionals will take the guesswork out of your decision, recommending a quality backflow preventer device that’s ideal for your situation. We typically install one of two types — dual check or RPZ — depending on the level of potential hazard.
From determining your backflow needs to installing and annual testing, we handle every step of the process. Here’s what you can expect from us:
- Installation: The device will be installed onto the main water line, which requires digging to locate — dig time will vary, depending on location. Expect water to be shut off for up to 6 hours, depending on the device used. We respect your property and will make this a smooth process.
- Testing: Water will only be shut off to the device via a special valve. Testing should only take around 30 minutes and results are then sent to authorities.
- Repair: A technician will assess the backflow device for damage, order the needed parts, and schedule an appointment for the repair.
- Irrigation Maintenance: Some of the backflow work we do at PlumbV is connected to our clients’ lawn, garden, and landscape irrigation systems. And though we don’t service irrigation systems themselves, we can offer some signs to look for that might help you spot potential backflow problems:
- Dead or wilting lawn/plants
- Pooling water or excessive muddiness
- Incorrect water dispersal
- Pressure inconsistencies
For various reasons, backflow prevention devices can fail. That’s why a yearly inspection is a must — it’s the best way to spot and address potential problems. And annual testing is required by local authorities. Our testing equipment is well-maintained and recalibrated each year, and we keep up-to-date on local requirements. We are also licensed, professional plumbers and meet North Carolina’s qualifications for backflow preventer installation, inspection, and repair work.
At PlumbV, we provide full service to residents in the greater Triangle region, including Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill — we look forward to helping and serving you! If you have questions about this service or aren’t sure if you need to install a backflow prevention device, please contact us today!