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Get to Know the Backflow Preventer

As a homeowner, you may have never heard of a backflow preventer before, but it is a key part of your plumbing that is necessary for clean drinking water.

The components of a backflow preventer

What is a Backflow Preventer?

This device is installed in your home’s water pipes that essentially allows water to flow in one direction throughout your plumbing system. It prevents backflow, which commonly causes the contamination of water.

How Does Backflow Happen?

Water enters your home through the main water supply line. This water should only ever flow in one direction – from the main supply into your home. When pressure changes occur in the pipes, however, water has a tendency to flow backwards and return to the main water supply line. If there is a break in the main water line, for example, pressure is lost and water can no longer be pushed forward into your home and will instead flow in the opposite direction towards the main city lines.

The backflow of water can contaminate the public’s drinking supply with human waste, chlorine from pools, soap from sinks/showers/dishwashers, fertilizers, pesticides, and other unsafe contaminants.

How Does a Backflow Preventer Work?

The backflow preventer’s functionality is quite simple. This device acts as a gate in the pipes between the main water supply line and your home. It opens towards your home and allows the water to flow in that direction only. If the water tries to flow backwards, the “gate” will close, disallowing the backflow of water and thus preventing contamination.

Water contamination can be harmful to your health and the health of your family. It can have negative effects on your skin after showering or bathing, it can cause illness if consumed as drinking water, and it can make preparing food that requires water to cook unsafe.

What Else Do I Need to Know About Backflow Preventers?

Unless you’re in a brand new home, your water lines may already be equipped with a backflow preventer if a previous homeowner had one installed. For some locations, this device is a requirement as certain areas or homes that meet specific criteria are more susceptible to the backflow of water. Backflow preventers typically have moving parts and should therefore be inspected by a plumbing professional periodically.

Michael Runk Plumbing and Heating is a Finksburg plumbing contractor with over 20 years of experience in the industry. Contact us today to learn more about our services!

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