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Why Backflow Prevention is So Important

Plumber Working Below Sink

What is Backflow?

Backflow is the simple process of unwanted water flowing in the opposite direction than it should. This is a general term that can apply to many situations in plumbing, but your mind is probably zeroing in on the most obvious one of a toilet tank filling with dirty water.

Why is Preventing Backflow So Important?

It probably goes without saying, but we trust our water to be potable, or drinkable. Backflow is one of the most common ways water can become contaminated and not fit for human consumption. This is so important that nearly every building has some sort of plan or mechanism in place to prevent backflow from poisoning the water supply.

What Causes Backflow?

Unlike many plumbing problems, there are only a few limited causes of the problem. One is backpressure. This is when the pressure pushed water back up the system where it shouldn’t be. This can occur from a variety of reasons, from ventilation issues to improper drainage.

The other main cause is back-siphonage. This occurs when pressure is too low on the supply side. In this case, dirty water can be pulled back and cause contamination.

How Can We Prevent Backflow From Happening in the First Place?

The construction of backflow prevention valves and devices is centered around potential risk. We don’t want to waste time protecting an area of your plumbing that has no real risk of causing problems. So first, there is a risk assessment and then proper precautions are installed.

One of the main ones is using an air gap. You may be surprised to learn that air is used throughout your plumbing system for various reasons and backflow prevention is one of them.

The other is a check valve. While an air gap is required during construction, often it is not adequate to prevent backflow. This is especially the case if there are factors that were unaccounted for during construction.

The plumbing experts at Mallick Plumbing & Heating have you covered for all of your home plumbing needs. If you want to prevent backflow from poisoning your water, give us a call at (301) 804-6759 or fill out an online contact form!

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