Each year, more than 10,000 cases of backflow contamination is reported hence the importance of a backflow preventer. Backflow contamination is not a minor issue, because some of those cases are fatal hence the requirement of the government to install backflow prevention devices and assemblies.
A regular backflow assembly has shut-off valves and test cocks that must be checked annually. Its installation and relocation must also be in accordance to the districts’ building or plumbing codes. You can either buy or rent a test kit, though renting is highly regarded as the kits are quite expensive. If you already own a testing kit, make sure to keep them clean and check each year for calibration.
Here are the steps to test your backflow preventer.
- Water Supply Has to Be Shut Off – Before starting anything, shut off your water supply and warn everyone in your house not to use any water until the testing is completed and water pressure is restored.
- Check Your Device and Water Flow – Are you using a reduced pressure principle device or double check valves? Check the kind of device you are testing. Also check the direction of the water flow and there are arrows or wordings provided in the device to validate this.
- Test Cocks and Bushings – Collect the right amount of bushings and test cocks needed for the testing. Ensure that they are clean and free of any dust or debris.
- Observe the Valve – It is now time to shut off the downstream shut-off valve. Before you hook up the test kit hoses to a reduced pressure principle device, wait for a few minutes. One clue that the first check valve has a problem and needs to be checked before you can continue, is the emanating water from the valve. If you notice that water is exiting from the double check valves, then your device is okay.
- Testing Phase – Turn on your water source and run several taps at once. Check if the water is trying to run backwards and whether the relief valve opens. If you notice that it does, there might be a need to replace it. There is a gauge to check the water pressure inside the valve, if it is rising as the water flow backwards, consider replacing the valve.
Each backflow preventer test kit comes with detailed instructions. Follow these to a T in attaching them together depending on the device you are testing. There are different tests to run depending on the municipality and each state has different testing requirements. Follow these guidelines to avoid penalties. If you are unsure, call a licensed Kansas plumber to conduct the backflow testing in Kansas City for you.