The Importance of Backflow Testing

Clean drinking water is an important part of keeping our bodies healthy. Backflow Testing ensures that sewer contaminants don’t reach the potable water supply.

Backflow Testing

Before a backflow test, a certified plumber will shut off the water supply to the property being tested. Homeowners should let everyone know that the water will be off and prepare accordingly.

Backflow testing might seem like a tiny part of everyone’s homeowner maintenance checklist, but it’s actually quite important. Without it, the backflow preventers in your house could break down and let all kinds of nasty water contaminants make their way into your home’s drinking supply. That can lead to water damage, sicknesses, and even death in a worst-case scenario.

You see, your plumbing system is pressurized. That’s why things don’t just wash out of your pipes and down the drain – the pressure needs to be high enough for them to go up. However, when there’s a backflow, the pressure can drop, and things from your home’s sewer systems or outdoor hoses (like dirty water or sewage) can be sucked back into the clean water supply.

When this happens, you might not notice anything at first. But over time, you could begin to get sick, experience water damage in your house, or start to notice a sour taste in the tap water. In the worst-case scenario, the contaminants can even reach your community’s public water supply, contaminating the entire city’s water supplies and possibly making the residents sick.

The reason why backflow testing is so important is because it’s the only way to make sure your backflow preventers are working properly. The test itself is simple: a plumber or certified technician will come in and shut off the water in your house so they can test each backflow preventer individually. They will close the valves and check for gauge movements, water leaks, and a few other things to make sure that all of the devices are working correctly.

The one thing that you have to do before your plumber comes in and does the test is to mark off when each backflow preventer is due for a backflow test. This is the date that you need to have your backflow tests done by, and you should have each one marked with a sign or sticker so that you can remember when it’s time to call for testing. You should also be aware that if you don’t get your backflow tests done on time, you can get fined or even have your water disconnected by the city.

Signs of Polluted Water

Backflow Testing is a critical part of your property maintenance and can prevent your plumbing, water supply and possibly even your health from being at risk. Backflow occurs when the piping system has a cross-connection that can lead to the mixing of potable and non-potable water. When this happens, it causes contaminated water to reverse flow and enter clean drinking water lines. This is dangerous because it contaminates your drinking water with things like fertilizers, pesticides and human waste. Backflow testing ensures that your backflow prevention device is functioning properly so that the contaminated water cannot enter your clean drinking water supply.

The first signs of contamination are usually visual, but you may also notice a strange smell or taste. Discolored water can indicate a number of issues such as iron, rust, and tannins from decaying vegetation and leaves. Water with a foul or sulfur odor is another sign of pollution that could be caused by sulfates, hydrogen sulfide, and other contaminants. You should avoid all forms of backflow-polluted water as they can pose a serious health risk and cause you to become sick.

If you suspect that your backflow device isn’t working correctly, it is important to hire a licensed class I plumber to inspect the backflow prevention assembly and perform a backflow test. If your backflow prevention device doesn’t pass the test, it will need to be repaired or replaced. A licensed class I plumber can install, replace and repair irrigation, domestic and fire backflow assemblies.

Backflow prevention devices protect the integrity of your potable water by creating an air gap that separates clean water and contaminated water. Typically, this is done by placing a ball valve at the point of entry into your house or business. It is recommended that you have a backflow test done annually to make sure your device is working properly.

While backflow testing might seem like just another thing on your to-do list, ignoring it can leave you with costly repairs and possible health problems down the line.


Backflow testing uses test cocks to access the device to be tested. These test cocks are installed on the backflow preventer to allow the use of a test gauge to be used during a backflow testing procedure. Test cocks come in many different forms such as ball type, peepcock, swivel and more. They are also available in a variety of sizes to fit different valve assemblies. Backflow test kits generally include these cocks as well as test fittings and brass adapters. Once the backflow test has been completed the tester will need to remove these test cocks and replace them with caps or plugs to ensure no debris gets into them before the next test.

Testing Procedure

Many local authorities and plumbing codes require regular backflow testing to prevent contamination in the water supply. The test process consists of opening and closing valves to see if the device can prevent contaminated water from flowing in reverse. This helps ensure that the device is doing its job, protecting you from health issues and costly plumbing repairs down the road.

The device itself consists of two mechanical valves with an air gap in between that separates potable and contaminated water. It’s important to use a licensed and experienced plumber for the test, as they know what to look for in terms of backflow prevention devices. They can also determine if the device is in need of repair or replacement.

During the test, the technician opens and closes the valves on the backflow device, as well as checks that the air gap is working properly. Then, they will conduct a pressure test on the device. The tester can do this using a backpressure gauge. The test is designed to see if the contaminated water pressure is higher than the potable water supply pressure. If it is, the device will fail the test.

As a result of the backpressure test, the certified backflow tester can identify any potential problems with your backflow device, including any defective components or sensors. Those will need to be fixed before the next test is conducted. Once the backflow testing is complete, the technician will leave a tag on the device indicating that it passed and who performed the test. This way, if any backflow tests are required in the future, it will be easy to show that you’re up to date with your inspections.

If you don’t keep up with backflow testing, you could be subject to fines and penalties from the local government or even get cut off from your water supply. Backflow testing isn’t just about your own home or business, it’s about the safety of everyone in the community.