Most folks have never dealt with a backflow issue in their home. Modern homes tend to have consistent pressure from municipal water systems, and that maintains clean, safe water delivery from the local city supply. However, further out in the rural areas, away from suburbia, backflow can be a far more regular problem. When backflow occurs, it allows for the chance that wastewater can enter the water supply feed and contaminate it. Ultimately, it will be flushed out as the pressure returns and the water flows through, but in that time window it’s in the pipes, and contamination can be a serious health problem.
In an ideal situation, water feed lines and drain lines are kept completely separate. However, older grids the two were kept separate by water pressure, not physical separation. No surprise, whenever the pressure failed, even slightly, it resulted in the loss of fresh clean water for days, even weeks.
Water contamination is no laughing matter. It can put people in the hospital, as well as cause mortality, especially in folks who have compromised immune systems. Every year, cruise ships end up cutting a trip short because contamination spreads, and everyone on board becomes extremely sick. The same can happen in a home thanks to a backflow incident.
To confirm backflow contamination and repair is immediately needed, the first step involves testing the water coming out of the pipes in a home. Second, pressure-testing then identifies where the home has a weak point or Achilles Heel in its plumbing, which identifies where the problem can re-occur.
The key factor is sitting water. It’s been exposed, which generally allows the potential for contamination. When backflow happens due to loss of pressure, this contaminated risk can potentially go back deeper into the pipeline and spread deeper into the plumbing. Once in, it can be very hard to flush out without a continuous pressure flow as well as additives to the water to kill off the potential bacteria. Not doing so can lead to water-borne health problems that can trigger cholera, dysentery, and similar. Again, in those with weak or compromised systems, backflow contamination can trigger serious incidents and even death.
Once a system is fully tested and confirmed clean, both at the input and output points, then it is cleared and water pressure is brought up to full level to maintain the contamination-free status of the affected home. Additionally, backflow preventers can also be installed to help reduce the chance of a contamination risk occurring again as well.
Remember, we all need water, and its value is only realized when that resource is suddenly not available. If you’re worried something is off with your home water, switch to bottled water immediately or boil it if too far away from a regular alternative source like a grocery store. Call for a backflow repair test as soon as possible and don’t take chances. A bit of inconvenience for a few days is a small price versus a water contamination health injury that could put you in the emergency room.