Backflow Emergency and Prevention

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A backflow emergency can be a very serious situation. Damage to your home or office building is a real possibility. Health risks due to contaminated water is another. You need to act quickly and safely.

What is Backflow?

Simply put, it is the flow of water backwards. It occurs when pressure changes and causes the water to flow in the direction from which it came.

Here are a couple real scenarios:

A person attaches a spray insecticide to his garden hose and turns on the water. However, the hole allowing the container to aspirate is clogged. Meanwhile someone inside the house turns on the tap water. The result is that the insecticide flows back into the house and out the tap.

Worse yet, the insecticide could potentially reach the city’s water system. If this happened, (and it has), an entire community would have poisoned water.

Or how about the homeowner who fills-up his above-ground swimming pool. When the job is done, he turns off the water but leaves the hose in the pool. He wakes up the next morning to find his pool empty and his basement full!

Backflow Emergency and Prevention

How Do You Prevent Problems?

Your home should be equipped with an air gap device to protect your drinking water. You will also want a vacuum breaker on every hose bib. If you don’t already have them they are only a few dollars at your local plumbing supply store.

If you are unsure about how your house is equipped, call a licensed plumber and let them inspect your system. (You might also check your homeowner’s insurance policy to see if you are covered for flooding.)

If you have a business, no doubt you are aware of city code and are in compliance. But be sure to keep up with inspections. A double check backflow preventer is a wonderful device, but it should be looked at by a licensed inspector at least once a year.

Other Tips

It is important to remember to keep your pipes clean and open. Do not dispose of anything in your toilet or down a drain that could clog the system. The following should never enter the water stream:

  • Paper towels
  • Baby diapers
  • Feminine products
  • Cooking or bacon grease
  • Hypodermic needles

What Do You Do In an Emergency?

As always stay calm and do the following:

  • Turn off the water main
  • Turn off central air if you have it
  • Do not let anyone drink tap water or come in contact with flooded areas
  • Call your sewer or sanitation department
  • Call your homeowner’s insurance company
  • Call your plumber if they recently did work
  • Do not clean anything
  • Do not touch anything that may be contaminated
  • Open up windows if possible
  • Notify your neighbors so they are aware of potential cross-contamination