What is Backflow Testing and Why Do I Need It?

[Video – 3:30] Backflow preventers are an absolute necessity for the health of everyone because they protect drinking water from becoming contaminated.  But unless you have had it pointed out to you, chances are you didn’t even know you had one. This leads to homeowners feeling frustrated and confused when they learn of the required testing of that mysterious backflow.

Where is My Backflow Preventer?

Chances are you have mowed around it every weekend or tried to plant around it to disguise it, all the while not knowing what it was. They are located by your water meter and are some pipes and shut-off valves, generally 12 to 18 inches above the ground.

In this short video, JJ Donaldson owner of Merit Plumbing, explains exactly what the backflow valves are and just how important it is for you to regularly have them inspected to ensure they are working correctly.

If you need your backflow valve replaced or have questions we would be happy to help.

You can schedule an appointment with Merit Plumbing in Sarasota, FL at any time.

Video Transcript:

JJ Donaldson (00:01)
Good day, everyone. This is JJ with Merit Plumbing from Sarasota, Florida. And I just wanted to do a quick video today talking about backflow preventers. So right in front of me here, is a backflow preventer. One of the common questions I get from customers is why do we have and why do we need a backflow preventer?

This is something I feel that both plumbers, local water purveyors and local municipalities, have not done a good job of educating the public as to the importance of why we need a backflow preventer. So the reason why we have backflow preventers and what they are: a backflow preventer is a check valve or a series of check valves.

This unit actually has two check valves and then a relief port that actually will empty the water. So what the backflow does and what the check valves do is they allow water to only go one way so the water can go from the municipal water supply into your home, but never back towards the municipal water supply. The reason for preventers is we want to protect the municipal water supply to keep everyone healthy and safe.

So the biggest reasons we have backflow preventers are to prevent one of two things, back pressure – pressure pushing back from your home into the municipal water supply, which is pretty extremely rare, or back siphonage, which is a more common occurrence. What siphonage is and why we need to be careful about that is (for instance), in Florida, lots of people have pools. So let’s say you’re filling your pool and you’ve got your garden hose down inside your pool and maybe you’ve had to add some chemicals to shock it recently. Or another good example would be you have a pest control company come out and they need to mix their chemicals to spray your lawn for pests.

So especially on a pest control side, if they aren’t careful and they don’t have the equipment set up(correctly) and they don’t know(it), then if they stick their garden hose down inside of their bucket or their mixing tank and the water is running and they’ve got that hose in there and they’re mixing the water and their chemicals, then what happens is if there’s a water main break on the municipal water supply in the street or if the fire department has to open a water hydrant to flush the system or new constructions going on and they open the fire hydrants to flush the water out, that’s going to create a negative pressure(situation). So it’s going to decrease the water pressure when that happens. If you don’t have a backflow preventer, when someone’s got their garden hose in their pool running or in that pesticide container mixing with chemicals, if that water is running with that hose and that contaminated water at the same time that there’s a water main break or a fire hydrant gets opened, it’s going to suck that contaminated and polluted water back from your home through to the municipal water supply and potentially get someone sick or people have, even, in rare cases, died from that. That is the importance of backflow prevention. That’s why we have them.

That’s why they also need to be tested on an annual basis to make sure that they’re working properly. Because there’s a series of springs and check valves in here and over time those springs can get stuck and they get stuck in the open position. And when that happens, if it’s not been tested, no one knows. And so if they’re stuck in the open position and we have a backflow scenario, a back siphonage occurs, the backflow prevention doesn’t do any good and then people get sick. So thanks for taking a few minutes to watch this video. I hope you found it educational.