Backflow Prevention Devices: What They Are and How They Work

You may hear the term “backflow preventer” in a variety of spaces. They’re in your home, in sprinklers across businesses, in labs, and even in city water mains. But why are they important, and why should we care about them?

Backflow prevention devices make sure no water flows back along the desired flow direction, ensuring that any chemicals, toxins, or debris won’t make their way back into a clean water supply. Still curious? Keep reading to learn more about backflow prevention devices: what they are and how they work.

What Is Backflow?

Before we get into the devices themselves, we have to understand backflow. When we think about water flow, whether it’s in the home, in a sprinkler system, in an irrigation system, or in plumbing, we should know that liquid from the water main should only flow to the property.

But when sprinklers go off or when a fire hydrant gets released, the system loses pressure, and water that was pushed onto the property may flow backward—that’s where backflow comes from. Backflow is dangerous because it can become a pollutant. Contaminants like pesticides, human waste, chemicals, fertilizers, and even stagnant, bacteria-ridden water can get into the clean water supply and make for a massive hassle.

What’s a Backflow Prevention Device?

To save us from this hassle, people invented the backflow prevention device. Simply put, it prevents backflow from happening.

It’s designed to keep water inside the systems, flowing in one direction—from the water main into the pipes. This will keep pipe water from flowing into the water main.

How Do They Work?

But how exactly does this happen? These devices rely on specific valves: check valves or two one-way valves. These valves get lined up in a series to prevent backflow from occurring. Think of it as a one-way door—once it’s gone out, there’s no other way for it to come back in.

If any pressure coming back to the water main exceeds that of the route of flow, then the valves close, preventing backflow. So, when the sprinklers go off, the pressure releases upstream, therefore increasing the downstream (toward the water main) pressure. Valves shut, eliminating the possibility of backflow.

Backflow Direct’s Devices

Here at Backflow Direct, we offer quite a few different backflow prevention assemblies. Hopefully, our guide to backflow prevention devices has helped you find your way. Explore our site now and ensure that you have the best tools to handle any situation.