There are several reasons why your backflow prevention valve may stop functioning as intended. Worn out elastomers and seat seals, accumulation of debris and contaminants in the pipelines, unusually high temperatures, lack of preventive maintenance and wrong installation can all wreak havoc in your backflow devices. Also, broken backflow prevention device or a drop in water pressure leads to cross contamination. However, there are things that you can do to detect a fault in the backflow preventer device as well as elongate the life of a backflow device through preventive maintenance.
Signs Your Backflow Preventer Needs Testing
Noise: Failing valves start to vibrate at the first sign of malfunction. You will be able to hear hammering sounds as the check valves start to break down. This is the sound that the disc makes as it slams into the seat of the valve.
Leakages: You will start to notice leakages and stickiness around the valves if they are not functioning as intended. Debris may accumulate into the disc and body bore, making it impossible for the valve to move, while contaminants and damaged seal causes leaks.
Decreased water quality: If the water coming from your tap is discolored or has an unpleasant taste, it is surely mixed with contaminated water. The water could suddenly turn brownish, yellowish, or even pinkish as you run the taps. Furthermore, if you notice the presence of rust particles or sediment in water, it may indicate an issue with the backflow preventer valve.
Unpleasant odors: If you notice very strong and sulfurous smells around your water outlets, it is time to call in an expert.
Loss of pressure: Uninterrupted or slow water pressure in the pipes also indicate a problem with the backflow device. Also, if your drains are not working properly and it takes a lot of time to empty a sink, or you notice increased water level in some drains and decreased water level in others, there could be a problem with your backflow device.
How To Maintain Your Backflow Preventer Valve
Annual backflow prevention valve test is not only required by law; it also lets you rest easy knowing that your water is perfectly safe for consumption. Double check valve systems need to be checked at least once every three years while reduced pressure zone devices should be tested once a year to facilitate early detection and timely intervention.
To prevent backflow preventers from malfunctioning, keep your pipelines clean of contaminants and debris. Clean pipelines prevent debris from accumulating in backflow preventers and causing the valve to get stuck at a certain position. You can install filters and covers to stop debris from entering your water system. You can even periodically flush out the pumps to remove any accumulated debris and contaminants that may be causing blockages.
You should also keep your valves lubricated with a good quality lubricant to boost performance and ensure proper functioning. Do remember to examine all seals and sealing surfaces every six months or so and replace any worn-out seals or sealants. You can keep seals from wear and tear by applying a silicone emulsion.
All backflow devices are equipped with internal springs, seals, test cocks, shut off valves and other movable parts that suffer damage with age. To ensure a healthy and clean supply of drinking water, law dictates that each backflow device should be checked and tested annually as when as at the time of installation, relocation or repair, even if it seems to be functioning well. This ensures that any issues are detected early on before they accumulate into a total system failure.
Mandatory Annual Inspection of Backflow Prevention Device
Even if your backflow device isn’t showing any fault, yearly inspection of backflow prevention device is mandatory. At the end of each year, you will need to contact a fully certified plumber to get your backflow device checked and have a compliance report prepared. If your backflow prevention devices are functioning as intended, you will be issued a Certificate of Compliance. In essence, the plumber will conduct a range of tests to ensure that your backflow prevention device is indeed preventing your portable drinking water from possible contamination. If not, the plumbing company will schedule a repair or replacement as needed.