What Are the Most Common Backflow Contaminants?

Contaminated backflow can compromise your water supply. Additionally, contamination can negatively affect your plumbing system. For this reason, every business should have a backflow preventer that keeps contamination from occurring. Backflow preventers stop the water in a fire protection system from moving backward. This function ensures that the water doesn’t become compromised. This definition might make you wonder what contaminants backflow preventers protect the water from, though. This article will answer the question, “What are the most common backflow contaminants? It’ll also offer a discussion on public safety and what happens when someone becomes exposed to these impurities.


Sewage is the most widespread backflow contaminant. One reason sewage is so common is that every building needs a plumbing system to distribute potable water. As a result, it’s incredibly likely that your water will become filled with toxins. Yet, with a suitable backflow preventer, you can stop your water from turning impure. Unfortunately, H2O that’s filled with sewage will contain countless bacteria that can cause illnesses. It can also carry viruses and parasites that might harm a person.

Stored Water

Some businesses store heated or cold water until they need it later. The reason for this is to keep the stored H2O away from its potable counterpart. But to this, you need a quality backflow preventer. Backflow preventers will stop both types of water from mixing. The reason mixing isn’t a desirable outcome is that the stored water will not have proper treatment. Untreated water poses a health risk to people who drink it. Another factor that may lead to harm for humans is the temperature of the water supply. Hot H2O contains more bacteria than cold water. Consequently, hot water can pose a health risk to humans.

Pesticides and Herbicides

Pesticide technicians typically connect a hose to a business’s or residence’s water supply. But why is this? When a hose links to the water supply, pesticides will spray on the grass, giving it the chemicals that it needs to fight off harmful organisms. This method is quite efficient and much better than going around spraying pesticides everywhere manually.

However, you’ll need a backflow preventer if you decide to do this. There’s a chance that pesticides from the hose will make their way into the drinking water. Pesticides can cause a variety of illnesses that are incredibly harmful to human beings. Heart and lung conditions may appear if a person ingests contaminated water for an extended period. Anyone who wants to prolong their lifespan should invest in a backflow preventer.

How Does Backflow Happen?

Now that we have answered the question of what the most common backflow contaminants are, it’s time to discuss why backflow occurs. There are two primary reasons why backflow may happen. The first one is that the pressure in the distribution system drops due to extended wear. The second is that an external component placed on the distribution center has a higher pressure than the distribution center itself. Even though these are the two most common explanations for backflow, there are other reasons why this may happen, as well. Here are a few:

  • Cross-contamination has occurred between potable water and a toxic source.
  • The installers didn’t set up the mechanism properly, causing it to fail and allowing backflow to happen.
  • Backsiphonage occurs, where the pressure in the distribution system is negative.
  • Backpressure occurs, where the pressure of a toxic substance is higher than the pressure in the distribution system.

You must accurately maintain your backflow preventer to stop these things from happening. A previous blog post discussed how to take care of a backflow preventer in your possession. First, you should check the pressure to see how high or low it is by turning things on. Next, you should check for any leaks that may be occurring within the system.

A Discussion on Public Safety

It’s time to discuss why backflow preventers are critical to public safety. Often, plumbing systems connect to one another. This interconnectedness means that when one pipe becomes impure, many others will follow suit. This cross-contamination can lead to a public health crisis if multiple buildings are involved. This is why maintaining your backflow preventer is so important. Make sure you have everything installed correctly from the beginning. Additionally, the best way to care for your backflow preventer is to clean it and flush things out.

Backflow toxins also contribute to a variety of different illnesses. As previously mentioned, you can develop heart or lung issues if you drink impure water regularly. Constant exposure to contaminants may slow down fine motor skills, as well. You should also note that the number of backflow contamination cases that people report is a small portion of the number that actually occurs. The primary reason for this under-reporting is that people don’t understand what’s happening to them. Backflow preventers aren’t necessarily a common household component. As a result, individuals don’t maintain them because they don’t know they exist.

Toxic water consumption also leads to thousands of deaths in the United States every year. Not only is this tragic loss of life senseless, but it can also open up businesses to potential lawsuits. If a company knowingly refrains from installing a proper fire protection system with a backflow preventer, people may become sick or even die. If it wants to keep people safe and save money, it needs to get a certified backflow preventer.

This article has shown the types of backflow contaminants that put people in danger. This piece has also proven that there’s a fine line between healthy and toxic water. If you don’t do something as simple as maintaining the mechanism, you could be putting people at risk. The section on what causes backflow to occur will show you how to prevent H2O from flowing backward. You have to watch out for mixing the potable and non-potable water so that the potable source doesn’t become contaminated. If you don’t watch out for these things, they can lead to a public safety crisis, causing illnesses or even death.

Check out our selection of certified backflow preventers if you’re in the market for one. Here at Backflow Direct, we have a wide variety of backflow preventers that people can choose from. Our primary goal is to keep people safe so that they can remain productive members of society.

What Are the Most Common Backflow Contaminants?