Backflow and How to Prevent It

July 20, 2018 7:27 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

It starts with that unmistakable stench coming from your drains, followed by that oozy brown, dirty-looking water. Backflow is when your plumbing system malfunctions and works in reverse. Your plumbing is supposed to carry wastewater into the sewage system. When backflow occurs, this same plumbing system allows sewer water to back up into your floor drains, sinks and even bathtub.

Once backflow occurs, the damage to your home is already done. However, there are steps you can take to prevent backflow from occurring in the first place. As your emergency plumber in Colorado Springs, CO, we wanted to share with you the tools and steps you can take to prevent backflow.

What causes backflow?

Before we get into prevention tips, let’s briefly talk about what causes backflow to occur in the first place. Backflow typically occurs due to a clog or overflow in the system. Below are a few examples:

  • Sewage system has insufficient capacity due to residential growth
  • Cracks in the pipe
  • Blockage caused by tree roots, construction or pipe deterioration
  • Overflow due to heavy rains or melting snow
  • Sump pump failure
  • Flooding

There are other possible reasons why backflow might occur, but these are some of the most common.

Barometric loop

Now that we’ve covered what causes backflow, let’s look at how to prevent it. The simplest and most basic way to prevent backflow is by installing a barometric loop. The barometric loop is an inverted u-shaped piece of pipe. A barometric loop is installed upstream from a cross connecting pipe and works to stop the flow of backwater. However, a barometric loop is only effective when there’s no backpressure involved.

Backflow valve

The most common and effective way to prevent backflow is by installing a backflow valve. These valves work to close off pipes to prevent backup water from coming into your home. There are three main types of backflow valves:

  • Manual sewer gate valve: This valve is the most basic version of a backflow valve and must be operated manually. When you anticipate potential backflow, the valve must be closed manually, and once the risk of backwater is gone, the valve must be reopened again.
  • Sewer check valve: A sewer check valve is the most common valve and typically the easiest to install and the least expensive. When backflow starts to occur, the backwards flow of water will cause the valve to close. When the risk is past, the valve will reopen, allowing wastewater to escape.
  • Automatic flood gate valve: This last valve is the most expensive, but it also stops backflow 100 percent. When backflow begins to occur, the air pressure buildup in the pipes causes this valve to close. When the air pressure lessens, it will open again. This allows the valve to operate before backflow has even reached it.

The best way to avoid backflow damage is to prevent backflow from occurring in the first place. However, if you are faced with a backflow issue in your home, call Affordable Rooter Plumbing, Sewer, and Drain, your emergency plumber in Colorado Springs, CO!

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