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What Are the Common Causes of Plumbing Backflow Near Charlottesville?

Backflow happens when contaminated water enters potable water supply lines. Backflow preventers are designed to stop this contamination. The Safe Drinking Water Act gave the Environmental Protection Agency the ability to regulate backflow, but the codes are aimed primarily at multi-family, commercial, or industrial properties, though backflow preventers are also needed for single-family homes with sprinkler systems.

Since over 79% of homes in Charlottesville were built before 2000, they are likely to have older plumbing systems that may not have backflow preventers installed, or if the devices are present, they likely need to be rebuilt or replaced. This leaves many Charlottesville homes vulnerable to backflow issues and the contamination that can result.

What Is Backflow?

When water from an exterior source like a pool, irrigation system, or holding tank flows back into the potable water supply lines, it’s considered backflow.

Backflow can contaminate the drinking water for any property supplied by those lines and puts anyone who consumes the water at risk of illness.

What Are the Different Types of Backflow?

There are two primary types of backflow:

  • Back siphonage: Back siphonage occurs when negative pressure is created in the water supply lines, often due to a water main break. This negative pressure or suction will draw water from exterior sources into the water supply lines.
  • Back pressure: Back pressure occurs when an exterior pressurized system can overcome the pressure of the potable water system and force contaminated water into the water supply lines.

What Leads to Plumbing Backflow?

A few of the most common scenarios that can cause backflow issues include:

Pressure Differences

Higher pressures in an exterior system can force contaminated water into the potable water system. This can occur if the pump on a pressurized system like a fire sprinkler is too strong, overcoming the municipal water pressure.

Power Outages

Long power outages can allow bacteria to grow in appliances like water heaters. If the water heater in your home has a recirculation pump installed, it can force this contaminated water into the potable water lines when the power turns back on.

Broken Water Mains

A broken water main can cause a drop in pressure on the water supply lines connected to it. If any of those lines are connected to an exterior water source like a pool or irrigation system, that water can be siphoned out, contaminating the municipal water system. You’ll need water main repair or replacement to protect your water supply.

Clogged Drains

A clogged drain can cause wastewater to back up into the fixtures or appliances fed by that drain. If one of those fixtures or appliances is connected to the water supply lines, there is a chance that backflow can occur.

Outdated or Damaged Pipe Fittings

Old, damaged, or outdated pipe fittings like check valves, vacuum breakers, or shutoff valves can cause backflow under the right conditions. You’ll need pipe repair or possibly whole-home repiping to prevent recurring issues.

Backflow Testing Services in Charlottesville, VA

It’s important to have backflow preventers installed and routinely tested to keep your water safe and healthy to drink. Backflow preventers can deteriorate over time, so they should be rebuilt or replaced every five to 10 years.

Turn to Albemarle Heating & Air if you’re concerned about backflow in your Charlottesville home. We offer annual backflow testing, as well as complete plumbing and drain services to repair any problems that may be causing backflow issues.

Our company has served our community since 1988 and provides top-quality plumbing services backed by great customer reviews.

Schedule backflow testing in Charlottesville or the surrounding areas today!

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