Certified Backflow Prevention Tester
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WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE BACKFLOW PREVENTION ASSEMBLY?
Backflow prevention assemblies are typically installed at the water meter to protect the drinking water supply against pollutants or contaminants from a cross-connection within the water system. A cross-connection is any structure in which a public water supply is directly or indirectly connected to any other water supply system that may contain pollutants or contaminants. Typical hazards with cross-connections include in-ground irrigation systems, garden hoses, secondary water sources (such as reclaimed water or a well), swimming pools, and nearby lakes or ponds. If there is a change in water pressure from the main supply system, the direction of flow can change, sending potentially unsafe water into the public drinking water supply system.
WHY DOES THE BACKFLOW PREVENTION ASSEMBLY NEED TO BE TESTED ANNUALLY?
To fulfill the requirements of the Florida Safe Drinking Water Act (FSDWA) the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) adopted Rule 61-555.360(2), which obligates community water systems to establish and implement a cross-connection control program. Manatee County Ordinance No. 13-35, §2-31-307(1)a calls for all backflow prevention assemblies to be tested at least once a year. With or without an ordinance, it is important to test the backflow preventers to ensure they are functioning properly and keeping contaminants out of your home or business water supply.
To protect potable water supplies from pollution and contamination, it is necessary to install a backflow prevention device.
In water supply systems, water is normally maintained at a significant pressure to enable water to flow from the tap, shower, or other fixture. When a water main bursts, pipes freeze, or there is unexpectedly high demand on the water system (for example, when several fire hydrants are opened), the water pressure may fail. Reduced pressure in the pipe could allow contaminated water from the soil, storage, or other sources to be drawn up into the system.
Backflow is the reversal of the flow of a liquid, gas, or suspended solid into the potable water supply. One way to prevent this unpleasant and unwelcome invasion of contaminants is to install a backflow preventer. The points where a potable water system connects with a non-potable water system are called cross-connections. Washing machines and dishwashers require these connections, but they must be carefully designed and installed to prevent backflow. Additionally, to prevent pressurized water from flowing into the public water supply, it is necessary to install a backflow preventer where a fire sprinkler system connects to a water main.
Back-siphonage occurs when higher pressure fluids, gasses, or suspended solids move to an area of lower pressure fluids. For example, when you use a straw to drink a beverage, suction reduces the pressure of fluid inside the straw, and the liquid moves from the cup to the straw and ultimately to your mouth. When you apply this concept to the drinking water supply system, it is called indirect cross-connection — undesirable material gets pulled into the system.
Using the same example, back-pressure occurs when you blow air through the straw, causing bubbles to form at the submerged end. If natural gas is forced into a potable water tank instead of air, the gas could be carried to a kitchen faucet. This is a direct cross-connection — undesirable material is pushed into the system.
Back pressure can force a contaminant, such as gas, to enter potable water piping. Boilers, heat exchanging equipment, power washing equipment, fire sprinklers, or pumps in the water distribution system are all sources of back pressure. In some cases, there is an almost continuous risk of contaminants overcoming the static water pressure in the piping. To reduce the risk, a backflow preventer can be fitted. A backflow preventer is also important when potentially toxic chemicals are used for jobs such as commercial/industrial descaling of boilers or when chemical bleaches are used in power washing.