Common Problems Found During Backflow Testing

Many homes and commercial buildings in New Jersey have a backflow preventer valve installed. These devices are designed to prevent mixing between contaminated water sources and the municipal clean water supply, and are usually installed in areas where those pipes might cross-connect. Backflow preventer valves are commonly used on properties that have large boilers, fire suppression systems, or irrigation systems, which tend to create an elevated risk of backflow. Backflow itself results from pressure differences, causing water to move in the wrong direction and contaminate the potable supply.

If you have a backflow valve installed, you’re required to have professional backflow testing conducted once per year. The reason for this is the importance of backflow prevention. Backflow valves are crucial for preventing potentially hazardous contaminants– like bacteria and sediment from standing water in a boiler, or fertilizer and pesticides from a lawn irrigation system– from making their way into everyone’s drinking water. Backflow testing needs to be carried out by a certified backflow company, and should be done annually in order to remain in keeping with codes and legislation such as the New Jersey Clean Water Act.

Common Problems with Backflow Prevention Assemblies

Backflow testing is important, because it allows experienced professionals to look for any signs of potential problems with the backflow prevention assembly. If left unchecked, these issues can impair the valve’s ability to function. This could be disastrous, especially in the event of an emergency like a nearby burst water main. Some of the most common problems that could cause your backflow preventer to fail include:

  • Faulty first check valve. The first check valve in a reduced pressure backup preventer opens up at certain water pressures, allowing the water to then pressurize the space between the first and second check valves. Usually, it opens when water pressure reaches a minimum of 2.0 PSI, but if it’s faulty, it might open at lower pressures, impairing its performance.
  • Faulty second check valve. While inspecting the first check valve involves looking at the direction of water flow, backflow testing for the second check valve looks for signs of backpressure. If it fails, water can leak past it, back into the area between checks.
  • Relief valve opening point is too high. When water enters the relief valve, it goes into a relief valve sensing line. This brings it to an elastic element, allowing it to build up pressure to compress a spring, which moves the relief valve disc to block the seal. In terms of PSI, backflow preventers are designed with different minimum thresholds. It can become too high if the relief valve disc, one of the internal components, isn’t embedding itself correctly, among other problems with key internal components.
  • Relief valve opening point is too low. The relief valve opening point can become too low, usually because something is restricting movement into the relief valve stem mechanism. This can often result from scale and corrosion.

These and other problems can be detected during backflow testing, and often require professional backflow preventer assembly repairs to safely resolve the problem. To find out more about backflow testing in New Jersey, call us today at Backflow Testing NJ, at 1-800-449-0587.