Lawrence residents and business owners may soon be receiving a letter notifying them of a new city ordinance which requires them to have their backflow preventers tested annually. The ordinance took effect on January 1, 2019. All lawn irrigation system backflows must be inspected by July 1 (to allow for possible delays due to rain). All other backflows must be tested on the anniversary of their installation.
Why The Change?
The ordinance was passed in the interest of public safety. Backflow preventers are in place to prevent contamination of potable (drinkable) water. Backflows on systems such as lawn irrigation, swimming pools, or geothermal units are in place to prevent the reversal of water into domestic water supplies.
Water systems in your home are designed to flow only one way—from the main water supply into your home. The water system uses gravity and pressure to push water in the right direction. Occasionally, changes or damage to pipes can cause water to flow in the reverse direction. The backflow preventer is in place to prevent the water from flowing into the main water supply. Failure of the backflow preventer can allow contaminants such as pesticides, residue from dish soap, human waste, or chlorine from pools to flow into the drinking water supply.
Where Are Backflows Used?
- Sprinkler systems
- Well water supplies
- Water recirculating systems
- Swimming pools
- Solar or geothermal heat systems
- Fire sprinkler systems
There are a number of things which can cause a backflow preventer to fail. Backflow preventers contain a series of internal springs and seals which can deteriorate or corrode over time. Many domestic backflows have internal valves made of lightweight metals such as aluminum or brass. These metals are more susceptible to temperature changes. During harsh Kansas winters, any water in the valves can freeze and expand, causing the aluminum or brass inside to crack and preventing proper sealing. Systems that do not pass inspection can be rebuilt, but backflows typically only have a lifespan of five years.
In addition to health concerns, it is essential to have your backflow preventer tested annually in the interest of cost savings and the integrity of your systems. Leaks in the backflow cause a loss of water in systems like swimming pools and irrigations systems. A larger concern is for businesses with sprinkler systems in place. A leak in the backflow can cause a reduction in water pressure, meaning water may not be available for fire suppression when it is needed!
McElroy’s team of professional technicians are available to inspect your backflow and file all appropriate inspection papers with your local municipality. When it comes to the systems in your house, we always prefer prevention over emergency service! Contact us to schedule an inspection of your backflow preventer.