Have you ever seen one of these and wondered what it is for? It is big and looks complex, but it performs a very important function.
This is a backflow preventer. (This is a plumbing term, and spell check doesn’t like either of those words.) This contraption is designed to save you and your family from serious illness or even death. A backflow preventer does exactly what is described in the name – prevents the backflow of fluids in a system.
So why is a backflow preventer so important in an irrigation system? Well, deadly bacteria and pathogens lurk in the soils outside. When water is flowing through the sprinklers and flying in the air, there is no chance that those terrible critters can get back inside your house.
But what if the city shuts off the water down the hill, and starts draining the system at the same time as your sprinkler automatic valve turns on? The line opens up, and the draining pipes can actually draw fluids that are in the irrigation system outside back through into the house! This can be very dangerous when the water comes back on and you fill a glass of drinking water from your tap, which is actually filled with dirty bacteria infested water that can easily put you in the ER on an IV tether.
Sad experience has taught regulators of the plumbing industry that prevention is key in saving lives. So we install backflow preventers. With this fancy device, if the scenario described above should occur, the water from the irrigation lines will not be allowed to pass back into the potable water system of the house, thus saving your life!
The numerous handles and valves on this contraption allow a licensed backflow preventer tester to check that the device is working properly, because, as with anything, they can malfunction or wear down. Backflow preventer assmeblies are to be tested annually according to plumbing code in Utah.
Backflow preventers can be installed inside or outside the house. If they are installed outside in freezing climates, they should be drained and blown out with air pressure before each winter. Or better, removed and brought inside where they cannot be damaged by the cold. Replacement of a backflow preventer costs hundreds and hundreds of dollars, so taking care of them can avoid expensive replacement or repairs.
If you are interested in having a backflow preventer installed or replaced, feel free to give us a call at 435-563-6488. While we do not work on sprinkler lines or irrigation systems, we are able to help when a backflow preventer above ground or in the house are in need of replacement or repair.