HEB Plumbing and Sprinkler Now Performs Testing and Certification and Installation of Backflow Prevention Assembly

The city of Chicago hosted the World’s Fair back in 1933. The fair unintentionally led to complete disaster as the entire city suffered from backflow. The sewage and plumbing systems at the time were undersized and unable to handle the influx of people, leading to a contaminated water supply and causing rampant disease. More than 100 people died from illnesses, and there were over 1,000 reported cases of amoebic dysentery. This was when the entire United States realized that backflow was not something to be brushed off. It was a national health concern; all cities across the country needed to update their plumbing codes to handle this new threat.

Today, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality requires all public water systems to maintain a cross-connection control program to protect the distribution system that delivers drinking water to residential and commercial buildings. This advancement in plumbing codes has essentially eliminated the risk of backflow, but understanding why backflow prevention is important and how it works is key to understanding why annual backflow services are essential to the safety of your home or business. Here is more information on HEB’s backflow prevention services for the city of Bedford, TX, and the surrounding areas.

What Is Backflow?

A man cleaning up a pipe.

Backflow refers to the pollution of a clean water line by contaminated water, flowing in a reverse direction. This is generally caused by a loss of pressure in the supply line or an increase of pressure on the sending line, such as from a dishwasher or a sprinkler system. Appliances such as dishwashers and reverse osmosis systems for pools have cross-connections between potable and non-potable water lines, as well as sprinkler Irrigation or fire suppression systems and outdoor faucets used for garden hoses. Backflow means that non-potable water reverses and gets into the potable water line, making the water unsafe to consume.

Backflow causes waste water to be siphoned into the clean water line, contaminating your drinking water and making it extremely dangerous to consume. Changes in water pressure, either back pressure or back siphonage, are the primary causes of backflow.

Plumbing Term Explanation: What Is Back Pressure?

Back pressure is when a wastewater system has higher pressure than the incoming water supply. The most common cause of back pressure is when pressure decreases in the supply line. This is often seen in appliances with pressurized systems, such as water pumps, boilers, or elevated tanks. Other outdoor plumbing appliances, such as sprinkler systems, fire suppression systems, faucets to connect with a garden hose or power washers can suffer from backflow due to back pressure. 

Plumbing Term Explanation: What Is Back Siphonage?

Back siphonage is when there is negative pressure in the supply system. This is caused by an unexpected pressure decrease in the system, which can cause water from the sprinkler irrigation or fire suppression systems to be pulled back into the clean water line. This is often seen when there is a breakage in a main water line or repairs on a water main without cutting the water off. Another possible cause of back siphonage is heavy water demands, such as firefighting.

What Is a Cross-Connection?

A back flow prevention device.

Cross-connection is the physical connection between potable and non-potable water sources. Extra care needs to be taken around cross-connections because they are potential public health concerns due to the higher risk of contamination.

What Appliances and Systems Use Cross-Connections?

Cross-connections can be found in the following appliances and water-based systems:

  • Garden hoses. Backflow can occur when homeowners accidentally leave the garden hose turned on and submerged in a pool of water, such as a fountain or a swimming pool. The pool water could be siphoned back into the hose, contaminating the potable water source.
  • Private wells. Backflow can also occur in an untreated water supply (such as a private well) if the well’s plumbing is connected to a potable water supply. The untreated water could potentially be pumped into the potable water supply line serving your home or the public water system.
  • Lawn sprinkler systems or fire suppression systems. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) regulations require that all lawn sprinkler systems be connected through a backflow-prevention assembly. Without this system, the stagnant water and any debris could be drawn back through the systems into a home’s potable water supply.

HEB’s Cross-Connection Control Program and Backflow Prevention

HEB offers comprehensive cross-connection control programs to ensure that your private plumbing is safe from potential cross-contamination. This service involves inspecting the home or business’s plumbing and installing backflow prevention assemblies where required. 

A backflow prevention assembly creates a physical separation between the water supply and potential sources of pollution, such as your sprinkler system. Only licensed plumbing professionals, such as your trusted team at HEB Plumbing & Sprinkler, should install, maintain, and repair any backflow-prevention assemblies. Our professionals will be able to help you know which type of assembly is right for your home or business’s plumbing based on the degree of hazard.

What Are the Different Types of Backflow Prevention Assemblies?

A picture of a check valve.

As mentioned, a backflow prevention device is a physical barrier between wastewater and a clean water supply line. How a specific backflow prevention device works will depend on the application, as each assembly employs a unique mechanism to protect clean water from contamination. Here is a quick overview of the different types.

Air gaps are used in sinks to prevent debris from entering drinking water from the tap or a dishwasher. Air gaps create a gap of air between the water outlet and the flood level of a dishwasher, separating the potable and non-potable water supply hoses. This makes cross-contamination impossible as the hoses never intersect.

Dual-inlet air gaps are devices specifically used to connect two dishwashers to one drain line or allow the simultaneous drainage of water filtration and dishwasher systems. These types of devices are often found in larger residential homes or commercial buildings, such as restaurants, where multiple water appliances are used at once. They are also useful for residential or commercial buildings with under-sink reverse osmosis systems, as they can prevent wastewater from contaminating other appliances.

Atmospheric vacuum breakers (AVBs) prevent backflow in water hoses, faucets, and spigots. AVBs use a check valve that opens an air vent when the system begins to lose pressure. When open, the air vet breaks the vacuum, sealing off the water supply line and preventing back siphonage. 

Check valves ensure that water flows in only one direction. They operate by opening and shutting based on the pressure on either side of the valve. The valve opens when the pressure is higher on the incoming side, allowing water to flow normally. When the pressure is higher on the output side, the valve shuts, eliminating the risk of water being pulled into the potable water line. 

Testing Backflow Prevention Assemblies

TCEQ requires that all backflow prevention assemblies be inspected yearly by a TCEQ-licensed tester. HEB Plumbing & Sprinklers’s plumbing professionals provide yearly inspections for all our clients in Bedford, TX. We ensure that all backflow assemblies are working correctly, and if there are any issues, we quickly resolve them to protect your home or business and our community. 

Contact HEB Plumbing & Sprinkler for Backflow Services in Bedford and the Surrounding Areas

HEB Plumbing & Sprinkler proudly supports Bedford, Texas, with residential and commercial plumbing services. Whether you need help checking your plumbing system’s backflow prevention assemblies or repairing indoor or outdoor plumbing systems, such as a clogged toilet, leaking sewer line, or sprinkler system, we have your back. 

Contact our team for more information on our backflow prevention services or to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced plumbers.

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