7 Common Backflow Prevention Abbreviations You Should Know
Backflow prevention isn’t always the easiest subject to understand. There are countless terms, concepts, names, and other lingo related to backflow prevention that, counterproductively, make comprehending the matter even more difficult. Luckily, we at Backflow Direct want to ensure you have the proper knowledge of backflow preventers before ordering parts, hiring repair services, or installing new devices. Read on to learn the seven most common backflow prevention abbreviations you should know.
3 Abbreviations for Different Backflow Preventers
As we’ve mentioned on this blog before, not all backflow preventers are created equal. In fact, there is a wide variety of variations to the assembly of these units, each with certain designs geared toward specific applications or functions. Like many other plumbing terms, these assemblies are represented with three- to four-letter abbreviations.
AVB / AVBA: Atmospheric Vacuum Breaker Assembly
Atmospheric vacuum breaker assemblies include an air inlet valve and check seat that creates a check valve seal during instances of backsiphonage. Also known as a non-pressure type vacuum breaker, an AVBA’s valve mechanism is controlled by the flow of water. As water fills the body of the preventer, the air inlet valve is activated. AVBAs sometimes include upstream shutoff valves but never valves that obstruct the downstream direction.
Pressure vacuum breaker assemblies, or PVBAs, operate conversely from AVBAs. Instead of using atmospheric changes as a check valve trigger, PVBAs contain independently operating check and inlet valves. Both AVBAs and PVBAs are commonly found in irrigation applications, as they are only suitable for backsiphonage conditions.
DC: Double Check
As their name suggests, double-check valve assemblies contain two check valves within the unit’s body. These valves are spring-loaded and operate independently from one another. Furthermore, many DC assemblies feature shutoff valves on either side of the preventer itself. DCs are typically found attached to fire suppression systems and prevent non-health hazard contamination, making them far more effective than simple check valve mechanisms. DCDAs, or double-check detector assemblies, are similar to DCs but also include an attached water meter bypass valve.
RPZ: Reduced Pressure Zone
Reduced pressure zone devices are the most common type of backflow preventers found on public municipal water service lines. Additionally, RPZs are ideal for irrigation service protection applications. Unfortunately, many abbreviations refer to RPZs, making them quite confusing for the typical, non-backflow expert.
These are three common abbreviations for RPZs: RP (reduced pressure principle), RPPA (reduced pressure principle assembly), and RPZA (reduced pressure zone assembly). All three of these RPZs function similarly by utilizing two independent check valves (similar to DCs) and an intermediate fail-safe relief valve to provide superior backflow and backsiphonage protection. Certain RPZs include built-in sensing lines for better pressure regulation and monitoring.
3 Abbreviations for Hiring Backflow Prevention Services
Aside from learning the short form for different backflow assemblies, it’s important that you understand common plumbing-related abbreviations. These terms prove exceptionally helpful when interacting with professionals. Specifically, they help you communicate clearly to prospective contractors to ensure you receive proper services.
LMP: Licensed Master Plumber
Licensed master plumbers are the highest-ranking professionals within their respective industries. Often, these individuals run their own plumbing companies (depending on state regulations) and handle legal, financial, and management responsibilities on a daily basis. Most importantly, these individuals have the authority to pull project completion paperwork, hire supportive junior plumbers, and possess the ultimate level of knowledge and skill. LMPs sometimes carry specialty licenses, such as an LMP for irrigation systems or residential plumbing.
It’s recommended that you always use LMPs when operating on sensitive backflow prevention equipment. Their skills and resources ensure successful results and better protection for the surrounding community’s potable water supply. In some situations, such as a cease and assist notice from a governmental regulator concerning a faulty cross-connection, the services of an LMP are required by law.
BPAT: Backflow Prevention Assembly Tester
Not every LMP is capable of repairing and installing your backflow prevention equipment, but many either hold the qualifications of BPAT or have someone on staff who is a licensed BPAT. Backflow prevention assembly testers possess the knowledge, skills, and training to test and install a wide range of backflow preventers in most states. Certain states, like Texas, make their BPATs receive specific education and licensing from state environmental commissions. If not an LMP, most BPATs also hold the honorable title of journeyman plumber, making them highly skilled professionals capable of handling nearly any backflow prevention complication. Most importantly, you should never allow someone to operate on your backflow prevention equipment with the BPAT title.
EC: Electrical Contractor
Sometimes, backflow complications spread to other areas of the property, requiring the services of different professionals. For example, backflow problems can sometimes negatively affect a building’s HVAC and electrical systems. In these situations, an LMP or BPAT isn’t always enough. Instead, you may require the assistance of an electrical contractor, or EC. These individuals are educated and trained on how to interact properly with potentially hazardous electrical components and systems. Ultimately, their knowledge and skills help ensure the best repair results and keep everyone else safe from accidental electrical hazards.
GPM: Gallons per Minute
The final backflow prevention abbreviation that you absolutely should know is GPM, or gallons per minute. GPM is a volumetric flow rate measurement that determines the volume velocity of fluid dynamics. Volumetric flow rate is often represented by the symbols Q or V̇, or the standard international unit of “m3/s.”
Higher GPM ratings lead to increased pressure throughout a plumbing system. As such, individuals need to purchase the proper backflow preventer that’s capable of managing specific fluid velocities. Conversely, ignoring GPM and outfitting your plumbing system with an ineffective prevention device can increase the chances of backflow occurring and damage your existing infrastructure.
By understanding the seven most common backflow prevention abbreviations, you can confidently hire the proper services or order the necessary parts without needless stress or confusion. However, if you’re still confused with a specific backflow subject or concept, our team at Backflow Direct is happy to help! We are a premier backflow preventer manufacturer within the industry and are committed to assisting you in finding the very best backflow solutions for your existing system. Contact us today to learn more about what our prevention equipment can do for you.