Backflow in Plumbing and How to Spot It
Residential properties use plumbing systems that, when working correctly, only allow water to flow in one direction. However, sometimes water flow reverses, which can create a hazardous condition called backflow.
If your home’s plumbing system is currently experiencing backflow, it’s essential you get to the bottom of the problem quickly with a qualified technician. Since there are two different types of backflow, you must have Elgin’s plumbing experts inspect the area to find out what type of repair works best to treat the issue.
So what is backflow in plumbing? Continue reading to learn more about the different types of backflow, potential causes of this condition, means of prevention, and where you can get quality plumbing services.
What is Backflow?
As mentioned previously, a plumbing system typically allows water to flow one way only. When this water flows the opposite way, reversing the typical flow within the water line, it can create contaminated water that may flow into your home.
If your water line is experiencing backflow, wastewater and other hazardous contaminants may be infiltrating your water. However, you should note that there are two different types of backflow a home can experience.
Different Types of Backflow
Any type of backflow requires an inspection from a professional plumber. Regardless of the need for repairs, it’s vital that a team of plumbers assesses the backflow to identify the correct type. After proper identification, the cause of the backflow can be addressed and fixed to prevent any damages or another reoccurrence.
The first type of backflow is backflow siphonage. This type of backflow issue occurs when a separate draining system contaminates and enters your plumbing due to excessive pressure.
When there is too much pressure, it forces the contaminated water back into the water supply by reversing it instead of forcing it out. One example of this type of pressure causing siphonage is if a main water line breaks, causing too much pressure in one spot and thus reversing the flow.
If this type of backflow occurs, it can let wastewater contaminants into your drinking and bathing water, causing serious illness and threatening your health.
Another type of backflow is back pressure. Back pressure occurs when the water coming out of the plumbing has too much pressure to the point that this pressure is greater than the pressure from your current water supply.
Since plumbing is a pressurized system, bouts of outward water pressure that are greater than your regular water supply pressure from various appliances — like chemical pumps, water heaters, faucets, and even toilets — can create backflow into your water if the pressure drops from your water supply but increases down the plumbing.
Instead of wondering “What is backflow in plumbing?” let an experienced plumber source the type of backflow and perform the necessary repairs sooner rather than later.
Signs You May Have Plumbing Troubles
It can be challenging trying to determine whether your home is experiencing backflow or any other type of plumbing problems. One of the most noteworthy signs you may have backflow with contaminated water is that the water looks gray, yellow, brown, or pink.
Any odd discoloration is a noteworthy sign of backflow. However, here are a few more signs you may be experiencing plumbing problems.
- Suddenly reduced pressure from your water supply
- Leaks near pipes and water features
- Strange odors, especially those of sulfur
- Slow-draining and gurgling pipes
- Particulates and sediment in your water
Common Problems that Can Lead to Backflow
Unfortunately, there is not a one-size-fits-all reason for backflow. However, there are a few occurrences within the home that can lead to backflow in your plumbing.
Water Main Break
When a main water line breaks, your home most likely will not be able to maintain the correct pressure. If this occurs, it may reduce your water line’s pressure or cause a sudden surge of pressure, which can lead to backflow.
Many home appliances connected to your water supply rely on water pressure to function. However, if your appliance’s water pressure is greater than your water supply, it can overload the lines, causing backflow pressure.
Backflow can occur if your water tank stores water for too long, allowing it to accumulate bacteria growth before pushing it throughout your home.
In the case of emergency outages due to fires or other disasters, sudden surges of water filtering through your town’s water supply can create the environment for backflow to re-enter your home’s supply if you do not have the appropriate breakers in place.
Ways to Prevent Backflow
While the threat of backflow sounds concerning, it’s important to note that there are numerous ways to prevent this plumbing condition for your home. All of these prevention tips and devices should be installed by professional plumbers to ensure that your residential plumbing stays safe and protected.
One device is a backflow preventer valve. This valve is installed in your plumbing system, and it stops backflow from entering your water source. If the pressure drops or exceeds the water supply, it reverses the flow to prevent any backflow from occurring.
There are other valves that complete similar functions, like a double check valve or reduced pressure valve, so let a professional decide which is best for your home’s plumbing.
Another simple fix plumbers may utilize is creating a manual gap between piping connections. This gap helps your plumbing maintain the correct pressure levels, which prevents backflow from occurring as easily.
As always, opt for regular inspections and maintenance to ensure that your plumbing is up to date and avoid common plumbing problems in old homes.
Rely on Professional Plumbers
Instead of wondering what is backflow in plumbing and how to prevent it, contact the professionals at Advantage Plumbing & Sewer Co. in Elgin, IL. Our professional plumbing team provides backflow prevention, drain cleaning, sewer repair, and water heater installation to every resident.
Take control of your home’s plumbing system. Call Advantage Plumbing & Sewer Co. today at (847) 268-3553 to schedule your backflow prevention and plumbing inspections!