Protecting Your Pipes

« Back to Home

Backflow Prevention Basics For Business Owners

Posted on

One of the things that differentiates commercial plumbing from residential systems is the need for backflow prevention. Sure, you can put backflow prevention on a residential system, but it's really not necessary because there aren't as many connections and areas where backflow could even happen. With commercial plumbing, the intricate, elaborate system has multiple areas where backflow could occur, so you need to have a prevention device in the system to keep that from happening. Here's what you need to know about backflow and your commercial plumbing system.

What Exactly Is Backflow?

Backflow occurs when water flows backward through your plumbing system. Your plumbing is only designed to flow in one direction, and when it flows back the other way for any reason, you risk having contaminants flow back into the main water system, which can be detrimental if the water flowing through comes from a source that's potentially contaminated.

What Causes Backflow?

Backflow can be caused by a few things. Most commonly, it happens due to a sudden and significant change in the existing pressure. This may be due to a break in a water line, the activation of a hydrant in the area, or other similar instances. When that pressure change happens, sometimes the plumbing system can't respond quickly enough and it draws water back up the pipes.

What Is Backflow Prevention?

Backflow prevention is the act of blocking water from flowing backward through your plumbing. It's usually done with a valve system that is constructed for this purpose. The valve only allows for flow to go in one direction. These assemblies are called backflow preventers.

How Do You Know Your Backflow Preventer Is Working Right?

Because backflow prevention is designed more for keeping wastewater and other water from flowing back into the city system, there's no way to know it's working based on the behavior of your building's plumbing or even the water quality in the building. Therefore, the only real way to be sure that your backflow prevention system is working correctly is to have it tested.

You should have the system tested once a year or so at a minimum. That way, you can be sure that it's functioning, but also identify any potential areas where there may be wear, weakness, or other problems. The sooner you identify these changes and fluctuations in the system, the easier it will be to correct them before the unit fails altogether.

How Do You Test Backflow Prevention Systems?

Some business owners may wonder how to test their backflow preventer by themselves. Sure, it's more affordable when you can do things like this on your own, but when it comes to structures like backflow preventers, you can't really test them yourself without the expertise and training required.

It's best to work with a commercial plumber in your area who is experienced with backflow prevention systems, including installation, inspection, and repair. That way, you can be sure that the test is done correctly and you don't inadvertently cause damage to the system or force water back through the city lines in the process.

What If Your System Fails The Pressure Tests?

If you have your backflow prevention system tested and the pressure and flow aren't where they should be, your plumber will notify you right away. He or she can help you determine the cause of the problem and repair it, or you may have to have a new one installed.

Remember that most cities and municipalities have their own regulations and requirements when it comes to backflow prevention. Make sure you understand exactly what your area requires before you try to install a unit or make any changes. You'll also need to know how much time you have to repair your system if it malfunctions. Check out sites like for more information.