Most multi-family residential and commercial buildings require a backflow preventer. They are a critical defense against municipal water contamination. If a malfunction or leak occurs, potentially contaminated water can flow back into the main water supply. Single-family homes are not required to install a backflow preventer. However, most people do not realize that it’s not as expensive as you think.

A backflow preventer prevents contamination from reaching the drinking water supply by blocking the flow of water in both directions. The backflow prevention device is an additional barrier between clean water and raw sewage. It can also provide peace of mind if the pressure of water changes. But if you’re unsure what a backflow preventer is, it’s best to contact a professional plumber for more information.

Backflow prevention devices are usually installed above ground. If you didn’t install a backflow preventer until 2006, your backflow prevention device is hidden under a fake rock or cage. You’ll need to lift the phony gem or pen to check if there’s a backflow prevention device. If your backflow preventer is installed correctly, you’ll never need to replace it. But if it’s not, you’ll have to replace it as soon as the water levels rise.

Although the United States boasts some of the cleanest public water in the world, backflow from contaminated water can cause illness. It is estimated that over 32 million Americans contract acute gastrointestinal illness each year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 57 waterborne disease outbreaks in the past decade, resulting in nearly nine thousand infections. And although the United States has some of the cleanest public water in the world, backflow is a significant cause of these outbreaks.

If you notice a leak, it’s a sign that your backflow prevention device isn’t working correctly. A leak in the air gap means the backflow preventer is not performing its job effectively. The problem may be the device itself or the drain line. Luckily, cleaning the device’s seal can remove debris and improve its effectiveness. Ensure to thoroughly rinse the spring assembly to remove any dirt or grime that may have accumulated on the device’s seal.

Irrigation systems are also a common source of backflow. Without a backflow preventer, sewage water may enter the irrigation system and contaminate the water supply. This is dangerous for the health of your family and property. It’s easy to install a backflow preventer. If you don’t have one already, consider upgrading your irrigation system to prevent contamination.

The type of backflow preventer you choose will depend on the hazard. In general, an air gap assembly will be required if the backflow hazard is severe enough to endanger the public’s health. If the threat is minor, you’ll only need a double-check valve. Choosing the right one for your home or business is possible by checking the regulations governing the installation of backflow preventers.