What You Should Know About Backflow Prevention

What You Should Know About Backflow Prevention

February 29, 2020

Smart irrigation design is crucial for ensuring the long-term health of your plants and landscaping, as well as for your own health. If you have a properly designed irrigation system, it will make sure the water for landscaping stays separate from the water you’re using for drinking, which will prevent contamination that could result in sickness. For this reason, it’s crucial to have a backflow preventer if you have an irrigation system in place in Altoona, PA.

Here’s a quick overview of backflow preventers, how they work and why they’re beneficial.

All about backflow prevention

Irrigation systems are required under the Uniform Plumbing Code to have approved backflow preventers, which help to prevent contamination of the public water supply from backflow in Altoona, PA. The term “backflow” refers to the reversal of water flow that can be a result of accidental actions when there’s a cross-connection made between municipal water systems and irrigation systems. When backflow occurs, it is possible that herbicides, fertilizers and other chemicals or harmful substances could make their way from the irrigation system into the public drinking water supply.

There are two main causes of backflow in irrigation systems: back pressure and back siphonage.

Back pressure occurs when the system pressure is higher than the pressure in the supply line. This might occur if you have a pump hooked up downstream from a service line. Such a setup makes it more likely that there will be extra pressure that could lead to back pressure.

Back siphonage happens when you have water being pulled backwards because of a decreased or overall negative pressure in the water system’s supply side. If the irrigation line lacks a backflow preventer at the cross connection, the polluted water could be drawn into the supply from emitters like sprinklers.

Some types of backflow prevention devices in Altoona, PA include:

  • Atmospheric vacuum breakers: These valves are probably the least expensive backflow preventers, but they will also give you the least overall protection. They are usually plastic or brass, and can come in manual or electric forms. They get installed at each zone of the irrigation system, at least six inches above the highest emission point. They are designed to stop back siphonage with a floating disc that rises and then seals off the air inlet when pressurized. Once depressurized, it will drop to allow air back into the downstream piping.
  • Pressure vacuum breaker: A PVB is the next level up from an AVB. This device only prevents back siphonage. It features a spring-loaded check valve that closes when water stops flowing, as well as an air relief valve that opens to break the siphon if pressure drops to 1 psi.
  • Double check valve assembly: A DCV features a pair of spring-loaded check assemblies that prevent both back siphonage and back pressure on low hazard systems. You can install it in a valve box underground—just make sure you know the codes for your area.
  • Reduced pressure assembly: This type of device provides the most protection against both types of backflow, and is the only device approved for use in high-hazard applications.

For more information about backflow prevention in Altoona, PA, contact Caporuscio Plumbing & Heating Inc. today.

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