Water quality is crucial for public health and safety. However, it’s surprisingly easy for drinking water to be affected by contaminants. It frequently happens when the water flow reverses, potentially contaminating the clean water supply. This is when backflow testing becomes indispensable.

What Is Backflow?

Backflow is a reversal of water flow in a plumbing system that can contaminate potable water. Reversal occurs due to a sudden change in water pressure. Causes may include a burst pipe, firefighting activities, or even routine maintenance work. Damage to the plumbing system may also occur when you excavate during yard work or construction.

When backflow occurs, non-potable water from sources like irrigation systems, industrial processes, or even sewage flows back into the clean water supply. This contamination creates health risks because it mixes harmful chemicals, bacteria, or other contaminants with people’s water for drinking, cooking, and bathing. You may not be able to taste some of the odorless, colorless contaminants that exist.

What Is Backflow Testing?

Backflow testing is a proactive measure that prevents contamination of the clean water supply by verifying that backflow prevention devices, such as backflow preventers or check valves, are functioning correctly. During backflow testing, our Splash Plumbing certified technicians inspect and test backflow preventers to gauge their effectiveness. This typically involves a series of pressure tests and visual inspections. Our specialists ensure that the devices operate as intended and comply with local regulations.

Why Is Backflow Testing Important?

Backflow testing plays a critical role in safeguarding public health and ensuring the integrity of the water supply. We have compiled some of the most important reasons why we specialize in backflow testing.

  • Protecting public health by ensuring that backflow prevention devices are properly installed and maintained.
  • Complying with regulations because municipalities and water authorities require property owners to install backflow prevention devices and conduct regular testing.
  • Preserving water quality by preventing contamination and minimizing the need for costly water treatment processes to remove contaminants.

What Goes Into Standard Backflow Testing?

Our experts typically follow a checklist when conducting backflow testing. Ticking off the different boxes ensures accuracy and thoroughness. First and foremost is the inspection of installed backflow prevention devices. We visually inspect all backflow prevention devices that were installed in the plumbing system. We also check valves and backflow preventer assemblies.

While conducting our tests, we also verify that all necessary devices are correctly installed. In addition to making sure each backflow prevention device is installed correctly, we verify that it’s in compliance with applicable codes and standards. We pay special attention to making sure that the devices are positioned at the appropriate locations within the plumbing system and that they are properly sized for the flow rates. Doing so is critical when you make changes to the plumbing system. In some cases, backflow prevention devices may need to be resized.

Our technicians also rely on pressure testing as a critical part of backflow testing. We measure the pressure within the plumbing system both upstream and downstream of the backflow prevention devices. This takes time but helps us determine if the devices are effectively preventing backflow and maintaining the desired pressure differential. If there are problems with the integrity of the devices, these tests will identify the precise position of the issue.

If Needed, We’ll Take a Closer Look

If we notice that something may not be working right, or if the client asks, we deepen our investigation. One example is functional testing. In addition to pressure testing, the technician conducts functional tests on each backflow prevention device to verify its proper operation. We open and close valves, check for leaks, and simulate potential backflow scenarios to confirm that the devices respond as intended. We also take this step if a visual test or test is inconclusive, so there’s a need for a closer look.

Likewise, we calibrate and make necessary adjustments if needed. Our expert typically does so if any backflow prevention devices fail to meet the required standards during testing. Moreover, we make needed repairs. Examples include fine-tuning valve settings or replacing worn components. If there are more serious problems with the plumbing system, we discuss the situation with you. Although it happens rarely, if a serious problem arises during testing, make the necessary repairs or device replacements before the situation worsens.

Preparing the Paperwork, Documenting, and Complying

Throughout the testing process, we document findings and include observations, measurements, and test results. This level of documentation is essential for keeping accurate records and demonstrating compliance with regulatory requirements. We also prepare a formal report summarizing the testing procedures, results, and any recommendations for remedial actions. If we make corrections to the plumbing system, we detail the steps we took and list the materials that we used. We include parts numbers for future inspections or calibrations.

The final piece of paper needed is the compliance certification. Once the backflow testing is complete and all devices are confirmed to be functioning correctly, we issue a compliance certification. It serves as official documentation that the plumbing system meets the necessary standards for backflow prevention and complies with regulatory requirements. Keep it in a safe place in case a municipal official asks to see proof of the most recent inspection.

When Do You Need Backflow Testing?

Clients typically call the Splash Plumbing team when they install a new plumbing system or make significant changes to one already in place. In this case, backflow testing verifies that backflow prevention devices are correctly installed and functioning as intended. We also come out for annual testing. Many municipalities require yearly backflow testing for properties with backflow prevention devices. Property owners schedule these appointments to comply. The advantage of making these appointments early is that you can schedule them when it is most convenient for you.

Of course, there are other reasons. For example, after repairs to or maintenance of the plumbing system, it’s crucial to conduct backflow testing. You will want to double-check that the system’s integrity is in proper working order. Some clients call us when they notice significant changes in water pressure. These may be due to firefighting activities or water main breaks. Because these increase the risk of backflow, it’s advisable to conduct immediate backflow testing to ensure that the system has not been compromised. Another good reason to call us is when you notice discoloration of the water or detect an unexplained odor.

We’re Just a Phone Call Away

Backflow testing is vital to maintaining a safe and reliable water supply. Whether it’s for new installations, annual maintenance, or in response to changes in water pressure, prioritizing backflow testing is essential. You can also turn to us for plumbing repairs, drain cleaning, water purification, water heaters, sump pumps, and gas lines. If you’re not sure that you need an inspection, we can help.

Call Splash Plumbing today to learn more about the process and schedule an appointment.

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