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Backflow: The Scariest Monster of Them All

What Are the Dangers of Backflow?

A household plumbing system uses pipes to deliver clean drinking water (often called potable water) throughout the home. There are separate pipes to carry away dirty wastewater. Anywhere these two types of pipes meet are called a cross-connection.

Most homeowners take it for granted that their water is clean and safe to drink. The water has been treated and supplied by the city; therefore, it must be completely safe. But there actually is a way that a household water supply can become contaminated, and it’s scarier than any horror movie: backflow.

Water that has been contaminated by backflow can lead to serious illness. This article will explain what backflow is, why it is hazardous, and why backflow testing is important.

Backflow Is Messy

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There are two main types of backflow: backflow siphonage and backpressure. Backflow siphonage occurs when the pressure of the water supply drops, creating suction that reverses the waterflow. Backpressure is the opposite: the downstream pressure increases and forces a water flow reversal.

Sudden water pressure changes can happen when the system experiences flooding, thermal expansion, irrigation system failures, the use of fire hydrants, frozen pipes, or burst water main. If the force of backflow is strong enough, backed up wastewater could lead to burst pipes or flooding in itself, furthering the contamination and damage.

Health Risks Associated With Backflow

Drinking contaminated water can have serious health consequences. Potable water that has been contaminated may now be home to bacteria and parasites that make people sick. Backflow has been shown to be the cause of outbreaks of typhoid, dysentery, and salmonella. Contaminated water may also carry E.coli, hepatitis, leptospirosis, and other pathogens.

In addition, contaminated water may contain toxic chemicals that cause illness, cancer, or even death. Because of the known risks to human health, most homes are required by law to have some form of backflow prevention device. 

The Importance of Backflow Testing

Contaminated water may look, smell, or taste funny, but it’s not always possible to be sure if a home’s water is safe to drink. Most pollutants, parasites, and bacteria that can cause illness are invisible to the naked eye. Although the water may look clean, the only way to guarantee its safety is to have it tested by a professional. Backflow testing is critical to prevent illness.

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Numerous devices exist that are designed to prevent backflow, including air gaps, vacuum breakers, dual check valves, and double-check valves. However, these devices can wear down over time. This may result in the failure of the device, which could lead to dangerous water contamination. Backflow testing should include inspecting the backflow prevention device and repairing or replacing it as needed.

About Rooter MD Plumbing LLC

Rooter MD Plumbing LLC prides itself on offering fast, accurate plumbing solutions, personal customer service, and complete peace of mind. They have been serving homeowners in the area for over 40 years and are trusted backflow testing experts in Livonia, MI.