What Most People Get Wrong About Backflow Prevention

Backflow prevention is an essential aspect of keeping water supplies sanitary and potable. But it’s a lesser-known aspect of what keeps our water clean and healthy. For that reason, there are a lot of misconceptions about backflow prevention and backflow preventer systems like the Deringer 40.

This often leads to misuse or improper maintenance of these systems and a general lack of awareness about their importance. Luckily, we’re here to clear up some of these common misconceptions with this brief overview of what most people get wrong about backflow prevention.

Misconception: Backflow Preventers Aren’t Necessary for Your Infrastructure

As mentioned previously, backflow prevention is necessary to keep our water supplies sanitary. For this reason, businesses, schools, and residential properties must include backflow preventers in their infrastructure. Those unaware of the importance of backflow prevention may think their infrastructure doesn’t require backflow prevention devices and systems.

As convenient as that would be, it simply isn’t the case. In most scenarios, residential properties, businesses, factories, farms, and any other type of infrastructure that have to utilize a potable water supply must have properly regulated and maintained backflow prevention systems.

This keeps the water safe for consumption or regular usage, depending on the infrastructure in question. So if you manage a piece of infrastructure—trust us when we say this—backflow prevention systems are required.  

Misconception: Backflow Preventers and Check Valves Are Interchangeable

Another common misconception about backflow prevention is that backflow preventers and check valves are interchangeable. It’s true that both types of equipment function to ensure a clean water supply. But they are slightly different.

A few things make a backflow prevention system and a check valve distinct, including:

#1. Construction

Check Valves—are designed with a plug that allows for a one-way flow of liquid but blocks it from moving in any other direction. Check valves are the simplest form of a backflow preventer, but they are not referred to as “backflow preventers” in the industry.

Backflow Preventers—contain check valves within them but also include other components such as shut-off-valves, test cocks, and relief valves. They apply a certain amount of pressure to pipes, allowing the liquid within them to move one way.

#2. Reliability

Check Valves—are considerably reliable pieces of equipment. However, because of their design, it’s much easier for them to fail under the right circumstances.

Backflow Preventers—are considered significantly more reliable regarding backflow prevention because they utilize a highly pressurized system and have several fail-safes to protect water supplies.

The difference between these devices also has to do with what they’re used for. Check valves are excellent for lower-risk water supply situations like dump disposal, and wastewater lines.

Backflow preventers prevent backflow in public drinking water, irrigation, and other scenarios where public health is a factor. So—while they are somewhat similar—backflow preventers and check valves are not necessarily interchangeable.

Misconception: Backflow Preventers Can Be DIYed  

There seems to be a lot of confusion around whether or not backflow prevention devices should be installed, inspected, and repaired by professionals or if you can perform these services yourself. But truthfully, you should never attempt to work with these devices on your own. Backflow prevention systems are specialized pieces of equipment that ensure your water remains potable and sanitary.

Plus, you can be fined for attempting to work on these systems without the proper credentials. For these reasons, it’s best to leave their installation, inspection, and repair to professionals. They have a nuanced understanding of how these systems work and what needs to be done to fix specific issues with them.