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Plumbing Backflow: Causes and Solutions

Indoor plumbing drastically expands our professional and personal capabilities and comfort. Homes and businesses can access potable water for industry, hygiene, safety, and more, all with the turn of a knob. 

We owe the success of indoor plumbing to the experts who craft it. However, no plumbing system is flawless, and problems do arise.

When this system fails and wastewater mixes with clean water, that is plumbing backflow. At Champion Plumbing, we understand how critical knowledge and prompt action can be when these plumbing issues occur. We’re a trusted Tuttle plumbing company, helping clients like you find solutions to all their plumbing needs. From damaged pipes to plumbing backflow, we have you covered. 

If you’re experiencing plumbing backflow, it’s time to take action. Below, we’ve created a guide to the causes and solutions of backflow, starting with what backflow is and ending with ways you can prevent the problem.

For more expert plumbing knowledge, browse our blog or give us a call today. 

What is Plumbing Backflow? 

As we mentioned, experienced plumbers design residential systems so that the flow of water and waste moves in one direction. Backflow refers to gasses, wastewater, and other liquids that travel backward through the plumbing system. 

Plumbing backflow contaminates clean water supplies and can occur anywhere a connection between wastewater and potable water lines exists. Backflow happens in two different ways:

Back Pressure Backflow

Backpressure backflow occurs when the pressure of a downstream non-potable water source surpasses the pressure of the clean water source. 

Back Siphonage Backflow

Back siphonage results from negative pressure in the water line. Negative pressure in the main water line causes a total or partial vacuum, which draws contaminated or non-potable water back into a clean water supply. 

If you experience plumbing backflow of any kind, avoid handling the problem yourself. An experienced plumber can accurately and quickly locate the source of your backflow issue, providing solutions that save you time, frustration, and potentially hundreds in plumbing repair bills. 

Why is Plumbing Backflow Dangerous? 

Plumbing systems use a combination of design, gravity, and pressure to keep clean, drinkable water separate from wastewater. Backflow results from an imbalance in this system and puts your home and clean water supply at risk. 

Water Contamination 

The most immediate and common danger from plumbing backflow is water contamination. Because backflow involves the movement of wastewater and gasses backward through the plumbing system, this wastewater likely will mix with clean water lines. 

Contaminated water poses serious health risks, regardless of application. Contact a professional plumber immediately if you suspect plumbing backflow in your home. 

Property Damage

Sometimes, extreme plumbing backflow occurs. In these cases, wastewater may back up through pipes and flood bathrooms, sinks, and other water access points in your home. 

Even with immediate attention, wastewater backup can damage your home. Speak to plumbing experts to learn how to prevent this problem from occurring in your home and to get help if it does happen. 

Causes of Plumbing Backflow

One way to avoid plumbing issues such as backflow involves understanding what causes these problems in the first place:

Causes of Back Pressure

Back pressure happens in plumbing systems when downstream pressure surpasses the pressure of your primary water source. Downstream pressure can increase as a result of: 

  • Water boilers
  • Sprinkler systems
  • Power washing tools
  • Reduced water level as a result of firefighting
  • Breaks in the main water line 
  • And more

Causes of Back Siphonage

Back siphonage happens when negative pressure in a water line pulls contaminated water back through that same water line. Back siphonage has similar causes to back pressure, including: 

  • Damage to main water lines
  • Fire fighting reducing water availability
  • Heavy water use due to construction

Since the causes for plumbing backflow vary considerably, property owners can save time and money by relying on experts to diagnose and solve the problem. 

Solutions for Plumbing Backflow

Once backflow occurs, property owners benefit greatly from calling in plumbing professionals. Technicians work hard to correct any immediate backflow issues, flush water lines if necessary, and install equipment designed to prevent backflow from occurring. 

Prevention

The best solution for backflow involves preventing it from occurring in the first place. A well-designed residential plumbing system has measures in place to prevent backflow.

 If backflow occurs regularly in your home, consider asking your plumbing professional about one of the preventative solutions below:

Air Gaps

When using air gaps to prevent plumbing backflow, experts create a space between connecting plumbing devices. Air gaps maintain pressure within the plumbing system, preventing backflow.

 In some cases, plumbing systems may not allow room for air gaps. In these circumstances, your plumbing professional may recommend a backflow preventer valve. 

Backflow Preventer Valve 

In plumbing systems that do not allow air gaps, preventer valves help regulate water and wastewater flow through lines. These specialized valves fit at multiple strategic locations throughout a plumbing system to prevent contaminated water from backing up into a clean water supply. 

Since backflow preventer valves involve moving parts that can fail, property owners benefit from having these valves inspected annually. 

Regular Inspections and Maintenance

Plumbing systems perform vital functions throughout your home, from clean tap water to laundry. When these systems fail, the repair bill can quickly escalate to hundreds or even thousands of dollars. 

For these reasons, one of the best investments a property owner can make is regular plumbing inspections. Residential service includes visual inspections, drain cleaning, and any necessary preventative maintenance, including backflow preventer valve upkeep.

Speak to your trusted plumbing professional to ask how annual plumbing inspections can save you money and help prevent plumbing problems in your home. 

Consult with Plumbing Experts in Tuttle

Now that you understand the causes and solutions for plumbing backflow, don’t stop there. Prepare yourself for any plumbing situation by browsing our blog. Learn tips on how to choose the plumbing fixtures for your home and so much more. 

Want to skip the read and get right to an estimate? Give our Champion Plumbing team a call at 405-889-1318 to schedule plumbing services in Tuttle today. 

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The next time you need a plumbing contractor, call Champion Plumbing if you’re in the Edmond, OK area at 405-342-3571 and give us the chance to earn your business.