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Learn The Ins and Outs of Backflow Testing & Prevention

Learn The Ins and Outs of Backflow Testing and Prevention

What is Backflow Prevention?

*This Information is courtesy of Bavco.com

Backflow is the unwanted reverse flow of water or other substances into a potable water system. Backflow preventers are installed to prevent the potable water from being contaminated if a backflow incident occurs. This can happen for two hydraulic reasons: backpressure and/or back-siphonage. This need to assure that water in an irrigation system stays separated from the potable water is critical. The water in an irrigation system comes in contact with pesticides, fertilizers and other residues and is therefore unfit for human consumption.

For this reason, all plumbing codes recognize irrigation systems as a hazard which requires a separation from the potable drinking water. This separation involves the use of backflow prevention assemblies. These assemblies are installed to ensure that the potable water is not contaminated.

These assemblies are required to be periodically tested and maintained by personnel with special certifications to ensure that the assemblies continue to provide needed protection. These assemblies also have very specific installation criteria to ensure continuous functioning. This installation criteria requires that the assemblies must be installed above grade and usually outside.

During the winter months, most irrigation systems and their backflow assemblies are shut off and the sprinkler system is drained of water or winterized. In some installations, the water must remain on during the winter months. This leads to the need to place the backflow assemblies in an enclosure to protect the assembly from the adverse effects of the environment.

Backflow valve test equipment is calibrated annually to certify that it is in compliance with both City and State governing agency regulations.

What is a Backflow prevention device?

*This Information is courtesy of Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

A backflow prevention device is used to protect water supplies from contamination or pollution. Many types of backflow prevention devices also have test cocks so that they can be tested or examined to ensure that they are functioning properly.

In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) holds local water suppliers responsible for maintaining a certain amount of purity in potable water systems. Many states and/or local municipalities require annual testing of backflow prevention assemblies. A check valve is a common form of backflow prevention.

Backflow prevention protects the potable water system from minor, moderate, and severe hazards. There are over 10,000 reported cases of backflow contamination each year. Some cases can be fatal. Backflow devices are required by law where needed and must be installed in accordance with plumbing or building codes. A backflow assembly has test cocks and shut-off valves and must be tested each year, if relocated or repaired, and when installed.

What are Backflow Prevention Assembly Enclosures?

*This Information is courtesy of Bavco.com

Be sure the enclosure you choose protects the assembly from the hazard the installation site presents. Here are some of the many ways to accomplish this task:

  • When evaluating an enclosure for a backflow assembly, first look to the installation site and see if there are any unusual challenges such as temperature, wind or durability.
  • Be sure the enclosure is sized to enclose all necessary parts.
  • Be sure insulation and heat requirements are properly evaluated.
  • Be sure the wall materials will have the desired strength for the installation site.
  • Always give yourself a good installation pad to assure the enclosure will stay strong and stand up to regular use and maintenance.

Choosing an enclosure for a backflow preventer is similar to buying insurance. When you buy insurance, you never know how much to buy, you hope you never have a claim, and if you do, you hope you bought the right type of coverage. The same variables take place when choosing an enclosure, and just like insurance, the enclosure is really needed to protect against unusual or adverse conditions — and you hopefully bought the right type.

The definition of enclose is to protect or maintain and to isolate from the environment. Backflow preventer enclosures are designed to isolate the water inside the piping from a low temperature which could freeze it or protect from vandalism or theft.

Theft is a BIG DEAL!  The current price of copper and brass makes a backflow system an easy target.  A rugged enclosure is essential.

Types of Enclosures
Another type of enclosure is used for security only and does not protect against freezing. These may be desirable in areas where the assembly is either winterized or freezing is not a concern, but vandalism is an issue.

These enclosures are commonly called cages and do not have to have solid walls as enclosures do. Many cages are made of a honeycomb steel called expanded metal. The metal can be either steel or stainless steel. The steel cages are coated with a paint or other type of rust resistant coating.

They are usually attached to a permanent installation pad and locked to the pad to keep unwanted hands off the assembly. There are brands of expanded metal cages that wrap the metal cage around the assembly and do not mount to an installation pad. The expanded metal cages, because of their honeycomb construction, allow a visual inspection of the assembly without opening a door mechanism.

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Metal thieves target back-flow devices


PENSACOLA, Florida (WALA) – Pensacola Police want you to be aware
that metal thieves have a new target. They’re now stealing and damaging
back-flow devices from outside water systems. Police have also put scrap
metal businesses on alert for people who try to sell the solid
brass/copper devices.

The Davis Highway Business Complex,
Gillette Medical Equipment and Debonair Cleaners reported thefts and
damage on Saturday, July 23. Florida Pest Control filed a theft report
on Tuesday after hearing the other businesses had been victimized.

The business complex reported eight pipes damaged and/or stolen.
Gillette’s, Debonair and Florida Pest Control each had one pipe damaged
and/or stolen.

“We just want people, particularly businesses, to
be aware of this trend so that they can take measures to try and prevent
it from happening to them,” said Chief Chip Simmons.

Officers suggests installing surveillance cameras, cages or valve covers and fencing areas around the devices.

Anyone having information on the thefts is asked to contact the Pensacola Police Department at 850-435–1900.