What is backflow testing?

Water leaking from under a door.

Understanding the Basics

Just what is backflow and what is backflow testing? Any water distribution system is designed so that the water flows away from the distribution point to the customers. However, water lines burst and other issues can happen in these water systems to affect hydraulic operations. Things like this can be an emergency, so if you suspect backflow issues in your home or business contact BDS Plumbing Solutions Inc at (770) 672-0095 to fix your issue.

What causes backflow?

When this happens, there is the possibility for some of that backflow water to flow to the customers in an unprotected state of being, hence the colloquial term “backflow”.  The technical term is back siphonage, referring to cross-connections of water lines.  So, why is back siphonage or backflow testing necessary?

Backflow testing is necessary because of the danger of possibly contaminated, non-drinkable water getting into the water system. When backflow happens, the contaminants the water system removes can make it into the water that goes back to customers.  The water distribution system is designed to remove dangers like chemicals, fertilizers, and other materials from water that can cause illness or even death among those who use it. 

States, counties, and cities all have minimum requirements for backflow testing as well as the repair of any water lines that could be seeping contaminated water into the public drinking water system.  There are certain procedures in place with certain backflow testing tools required, and tools must be tested on a routine schedule. These backflow testing methods help the officials in charge keep water safe.

What causes backflow in plumbing?

To understand what happens with backflow in your home’s plumbing, you need to have a basic knowledge of home plumbing. Gravity and ventilation are key for most sewage removal systems in the home. The two work together to carry wastewater out of the home. Freshwater, however, is pressurized as it comes into your home. 

If the balance between those two processes changes – for example, if the wastewater develops pressure or fresh water experiences a drop in pressure – a backflow is created. This happens when waste material forces its way into your freshwater pipes. Yup – if this happens, you’ll be bathing, cleaning, cooking, and drinking wastewater! Otherwise known as back siphonage. 

When the wastewater system’s pressure increases above the freshwater system’s pressure, something is created called backpressure. This happens when there is a break with the sewer line inside the sewer system, or along the sewer line coming into the house. 

Yes, you could end up bathing, cleaning, cooking, or drinking wastewater! YUCK! That is why states, counties, and cities require public water systems to perform backflow testing periodically to keep you and your family healthy and safe!

How long does a backflow test take?

Backflow testing, done with the proper equipment and tools, can take as little as ten minutes and as long as 30 to 45 minutes. While backflow testing is important, the backflow testing process takes less time than setting up the equipment does.

How often should inspections be done for backflow prevention?         

In Augusta, Richmond County, Georgia, all commercial businesses are required to have a Double Check Backflow Device, while residential properties are required to have a
Dual Check Backflow Device. These devices for backflow testing cost between $350 for a residential or small business sized device or up to $30,000 for the devices larger facilities need. 

The backflow testing of valves using these devices should be performed once a year. After the backflow testing is completed, a certified report is given to the owner of the business or property. Any new backflow device should be tested within 5 days of installation and a certified report sent to the Augusta Utilities Department within ten days, where a copy is kept.

What You Should Be Looking For

Fortunately, preventing backflow is easy, and doing this testing with a backflow device reduces the possible risks that can occur with backflow. This device is installed where water enters a business or home and can be done in a matter of minutes by an experienced plumber. 

How do you know if your home or business needs a backflow preventer? The water that comes from your faucet should be clean, clear, and uninterrupted, and it should taste good and have no foul odor. Contaminated water will have one or more of the following: 

  • Discoloration, typically in a brown, pink, or yellow color
  • A foul odor like sulphur or rotten eggs
  • An interrupted, slow, or trickling water flow
  • Rust particles and/or other sediment found in water
  • A bad taste in the water.
  • Drains work slowly while the water level in your drains has simultaneously decreased
Plumber performing an inspection.

In Closing

If you are noticing any of these things in your business or at home, call a plumber immediately and quit using your water until the matter has been inspected and addressed, including a clear backflow testing report once it is completed. This is the process a city will do when they advise all residents of a boil order for water usage. If you need backflow testing, call BDS Plumbing Solutions Inc at (770) 672-0095 today.