A backflow prevention system is used to protect potable water supplies from any kind of pollution or contamination that may come from backflow. There are very few specific water jurisdictions or standards in place regarding backflow preventer installation, though it’s important that both professionals and property owners understand the basics behind what general practices may look like. Below, we break down some parameters to determine whether or not an area is safe for backflow preventer installation.
Avoid Confined Spaces
Many use the space within a utility vault as the designated location for a backflow preventer, but it’s also a dangerous option due to the limited space available. It’s so dangerous in fact that dozens of death are reported every year and some jurisdictions are removing backflow assemblies from vaults entirely. Instead, consider working above ground with an above-ground enclosure, which most experts will tell you is generally desirable.
Benefits of Above Ground Installation
Beyond safety, using above-ground backflow preventers helps eliminate cross-connection risk. In many areas, safeguards for public potable water require installation in three areas: irrigation systems, fire lines, and water lines. Installation underground increases the risk of cross-connections where the water that passes through the meter returns to the distribution system. Underground vaults often flood, which causes this cross-connection phenomenon.
Easier Testing in the Future
Backflow devices that are installed underwater require the check valves to also be under water. What this results in is extreme difficulties when testing backflow prevention assemblies manually. It’s an important part of maintenance and should be a high priority. Testing in vaults takes more time, is dangerous, and is less predictable in its quality.
Consider Installing Above Ground
Installing underground systems has been part of the industry for a long time, but for safer practices, it’s best to consider installing future systems above ground. This is a matter of safety for maintenance workers as well as the integrity of public drinking water. It’s best to install any backflow prevention assemblies outside of buildings and above ground. Implementing cross-connection control programs should be high priority whenever installing backflow systems.
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Dealing with any plumbing concerns that require a professional to step in? Struggling with an absolute plumbing emergency that can’t wait? Let B&D Plumbing know. B&D Plumbing Inc. services the greater Washington D.C. metropolitan area, including Maryland and Northern Virginia. Get in touch with us by calling (301) 595-1141 or follow us on social media, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. As a small, family-owned business, we understand how important your home is—and we offer exceptional service that matches!