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What Is a Backflow Preventer & Why Do They Matter?

Posted On: July 08, 2021

When operating normally, water entering your home from the main water supply line should only flow in one direction. If your pipes experience fluctuations in pressure, that water can end up flowing backward, going back into the main water supply line. When this occurs, backflow can contaminate public drinking water with all sorts of hazardous materials, including fertilizers, human waste, chlorine, and soap scum.

To prevent this catastrophe from happening, it’s important to have a backflow preventer device installed in your home. At Genz-Ryan Heating, Cooling, Plumbing & Electrical, our team offers a wide range of top-quality backflow preventer devices to keep the flow of your main water supply line in proper working condition.

What Is a Backflow Preventer?

Much like the name suggests, a backflow prevention system is a special device that keeps backflow from your main water supply line. The device is installed onto a pipe where it monitors the water flow, stopping it in its tracks if it ever tries to flow backward into the main water supply. Usually, backflow preventer devices are installed at the cross-connection control point, which is the barrier between your drinking water and contaminated water sources.

Backflow pipe units before and after images

How Does a Backflow Preventer Work?

When backflow occurs, hazardous chemicals and toxins can contaminate the water supply as it travels into the public water main. With a backflow preventer in place, however, this process gets stopped in its tracks. When the unit detects a vacuum in the high-pressure system, the backflow valve will prevent the water from being pulled in the opposite direction. There are many different forms that backflow prevention systems can take, including:

  • Air gaps: These are simple backflow prevention devices used primarily to keep water from backflowing into the sink.
  • Reduced pressure zone devices: This backflow prevention system uses dual check valves and a chamber with a sensor to continuously monitor pressure.

If you’re unsure which backflow preventer device you need for your home, consult with your trusted plumbing technician to learn which option is best for your specific needs.

Why Do I Need a Backflow Preventer?

Backflow is a serious issue that can have incredibly serious consequences. When backflow leaks into the public drinking water supply, it can poison schools and medical clinics, posing a serious health risk to high-risk populations. For this reason, many governmental bodies require residential backflow prevention systems. While the Safe Drinking Water Act ensures that the water supply is safely established by the EPA, the consumer is responsible for preventing contamination once it enters their home.

Installing a backflow prevention system not only helps lower the risk of water contamination but also helps you avoid fines and penalties from your local governmental agencies. Additionally, backflow preventer systems help protect your personal property.

Choose Genz-Ryan for Your Backflow Preventer Installation Needs

If you’ve experienced backflow issues in your home or need a replacement unit, Genz-Ryan has the expert plumbing technicians you need to get the job done right. Our plumbers have years of experience delivering trusted backflow preventer systems to families throughout the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area.

Allow us to restore your water supply line to working condition by scheduling backflow preventer device installation with our team today!

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