Fixing my leaking shower

Understanding Backflow and Knowing How It Can Be Prevented

by Andy Butler

A critical element in the designing of water supply systems is ensuring that water flows in the intended direction. But usually due to possible cross-connections, the water may end up flowing in the opposite direction. This exposes the water to the risk of becoming contaminated, thus rendering it undrinkable or unusable. The most effective way people can prevent water contamination is to incorporate backflow preventers into the main water distribution line on their property. Here are two popular types of backflow preventers property owners should consider using.

Pressure reducing valve

The pressure of the water flowing in a public water distribution line is generally too high to ensure proper use by domestic consumers. A pressure reducing valve can minimise the pressure up to the desired level and keep it constant, thus optimising the efficiency of the domestic water distribution network. But for this mechanical pressure-regulating device to work efficiently, it should fit well. Here's why.

If the valve is undersized, the problem will be detected practically immediately because the device will fail to pass the required water flow. In reality, cases of undersized valves are quite rare. Usually, the valve is oversized. A pressure reducer that is too large is a recipe for noisy pump operation as well as premature equipment failure due to the prevalence of low-flow conditions. Choose a regulator valve whose flow and pressure ratings fall within the listed range recommended in local plumbing codes. Do not select the valve based on the size of the piping to which the device is to be connected. 

Sump system

A sump system is designed to collect incoming drain tile and discharge the water to the surface. The system is made up of a sump pit (hole or tank) that is usually located in the basement, an outlet pipe and a sump pump. It is essential to make sure that the water is pumped out away from the basement foundation to an area where it can be easily soaked up. This means that water flow should not be directed towards a driveway, walkway or any other paved area where the water will not be able to infiltrate the surface. It is also important to make sure that water doesn't move out directly onto adjacent properties.

For pressure reducing valves and sump systems to work properly, they require expert installation and maintenance. Thus, consider hiring a licensed plumber to make and maintain the plumbing upgrades for you.