Georgia law, the City of Atlanta Watershed Management, as well as surrounding municipalities, require annual backflow prevention inspection.
Give us a call right now to have your device tested or repaired.
AREAS OF COVERAGE
Alpharetta, Roswell, Brookhaven, Buckhead, Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, Johns Creek, Marietta, Smyrna, Conyers, Decatur, Tucker, Stone Mountain, Norcross, Suwanee, Duluth, Snellville, Lawrenceville, Covington and Vinings
We have come to find that the better educated the customer is about what backflow preventers do,the more they understand what it is they are paying for. On this page we have included some useful information along with pictures and videos that should help understand the basic functions and purpose of a backflow preventer.
What Is Backflow?
Simply put, Backflow is what happens when water travels in the opposite direction than intended. In This case, when non-drinking water travels back through the customer’s water lines and into the county’s drinking water lines.
What Causes Backflow?
Most commonly, Backflow happens when either the supply line (water supplier) looses pressure, causing backsiphonage from the customers lines. Or when the customer has more water pressure in their lines than the supplier, causing backpressure.
Why Does My Backflow Device Have To Be Tested Annually?
Beside it being the law, there are very good reasons.The internal parts of a backflow preventer are made of plastic and rubber. Plastic and rubber wear out and break over time, so it is mandatory by Georgia state law and Atlanta regulations to have your Backflow preventer tested by a certified tester every 12 months to insure that it is functioning properly and protecting your drinking water. Here is a link where you can find all the information on the Georgia Backflow Prevention Laws.
What Are The Different Types Of Backflow Preventers Used in Atlanta?
Reduced Principle (RP) Backflow Preventer.
This type of device offers protection against backpressure, backsiphonage and is used to isolate health hazards. It offers the best protection against all non-airborne hazards because it has a relief valve that will open and allow non-potable water to drain. Backflow preventers come in different sizes depending on the amount of water and pressure needed for certain applications. The device to the left is also a Reduced Principle (RP) Backflow preventer. This one is a 6″ diameter device wile the one above is a 1″ diameter device. Both devices operate in the same manor. This sepcific device here is commonly used for commercial building fire systems.
Double Check (DC) Backflow Preventer.
This type of device has the same functions at the RP devices, but does not have a relief valve. Thus making it not suitable for protection against health hazards. But this is also the only device that can be installed underground. So there are pros and cons to all different types of devices.
Pressure Vacuum Breaker (PVB)
These are not used in very many applications and provide the least amount of protection. They have the least amount of protection because unlike the DC and the RP, the PVB only has a single check. There is often debris such as pebbles, rust, twigs, etc that can get caught in the check and hold it open when it should close. This device can protect against health and non-health hazards, but only protects against backsiphonage.
Dual Check Backflow Preventer
Dual check backflows no longer meet code in both Georgia and the city of Atlanta and surrounding areas. If it fails you will need to upgrade to a more sophisticated and code approved device.
How Can I Protect My Backflow Device From Theft?
With the economy in a tailspin the market for black market precious metals has gone gangbusters. Copper is considered a precious metal to those in the salvage industry and as a result thieves in residential and commercial areas are cutting off backflow devices at grade by hack sawing the copper pipes and running off with the entire prevention device ensemble. Backflow protection enclosures not only help disguise the devices but they make the process of getting at the goods much more difficult and time consuming.
There has been a tremendous amount of backflow thefts taking place in the Atlanta area as well as all over the US. With the rising brass and copper value, thieves and vandals are targeting backflow preventer devices. Thieves steal these devices for scrap metal. Even the smallest backflow device can bring at least $100 in scrap value. Backflow devices all have serial numbers that can be tracked and scrap yards are notified by authorities to look out for these stolen devices. But this does not deter disreputable scrap yards from accepting them. When a backflow device is stolen, it leaves the building with no water until a new device is installed. The cost of having a new device installed is more than double the cost of effective theft protection. If a thief steals your device once, without protection, they will steal it again.
The main elements of backflow protection are backflow enclosures or backflow cages. Backflow enclosures are usually made of high density polymer or fiberglass. Most feature some kind of anti-theft locking system that prevents the enclosure from being opened without a key or combination. The majority of backflow enclosures consist of a base piece, and a cover that either lifts off or swings to the side so the device can be easily maintained or inspected. These solid encapsulated models provide backflow protection not only from vandals and thieves but also from the wind, which is a major factor in causing pipes freeze.
Metal Locking Cage
A metal locking cage is highly recommended. It offers the best protection against costly theft. A thief wont even look twice if you have a cage installed over your backflow device. Metal cages come in all different sizes, shapes, colors, and types.
Another type of backflow protection enclosure is the metal cage. This variety is usually fashioned with a metal frame and welded steel mesh. The cage is locked and either hinged or just lifted off for maintenance of the enclosed prevention device. The cage type backflow enclosures are more common in industrial areas where aesthetics are not as much of a concern.
Plastic Locking Cage
A plastic locking cage has a medium level of protection. Although it locks, it can still be broken into or cut open. It is still a deterrent from theft, but if there is nobody around and the thief wants it bad enough, it can be broken into. These plastic cages come in all different sizes, shapes, colors, and can even look like big rocks.
The majority of architects designing for residential and commercial settings opt instead for the polymer (plastic) variety because they are shaped and colored to blend into the natural surroundings and landscaping. Cage type enclosures do not provide any backflow protection from wind or U.V. Rays. Although Atlanta only experiences freezing temperatures.a few times a year it is still a concern and a plastic cage provides little protection.
.Another element of backflow protection is the installation pad. The strongest, most durable enclosure in the world won’t do much good if it can be easily ripped out of the ground by a thief or gust of wind. Many installations include a solid concrete pad to which the enclosure base is fastened with durable concrete lag screws or tapit style concrete anchors.
Installations over dirt or grass should include an extra long spiral staking system that prevents the enclosure from being eaily pulled upwards straight out of the ground. In order for an enclosure to provide solid backflow protection it needs to be well anchored.
Backflow Protection In Northern Georgia Requires Special Attention
In areas with temperatures dipping below freezing, insulation blankets become part of the backflow protection equation. Backflow insulation blankets, or pouches, are fastened to the device with velcro or zip ties. The thermal insulation provides protection from freezing which can lead to frozen and broken pipes. Insulation blankets are much more effective if they are inside of a enclosure with solid sides (not the cage type) so the wind can not penetrate. In some municipalities Class 1 enclosures are specified, requiring R-13 insulation and an electric heat source to provide total backflow protection from freezing temperatures.Recently the need for backflow protection has become an absolute must.
Backflow protection has always been a challenge for architects and home owners wanting to cover and protect the devices without having to scar the landscape with an awkward looking cage or bulky enclosure. Recently some manufactures have engineered backflow enclosures using ultra high density polymers that are highly impact resistant. The enclosures feature elegant curves and subtle colors that blend into the surrounding landscape and do not subtract from a property’s overall curb appeal. Some are even molded from 100% recycled content and feature U.V. Inhibitors that resist fading in the sun, making them virtually maintenance proof as they will always retain their color and never require painting or refinishing. These types of backflow protection enclosures are becoming increasingly popular.
Backflow protection can also come in the form of a fake rock. Hollow imitation rocks can be used as enclosures over backflow devices in many cases. Some brands of these faux rocks are so realistic they can actually add flavor to and enhance a property or landscape. Just be sure any rock you look at purchasing features a fastening system allowing it be secured to the ground. Hollow rocks large enough to cover a backflow preventer are going to stand quite tall and be an easy target for mother nature’s wind!
Remember that the most important point is that it is the law backflow testing in Atlanta must be perfomed once a year to protect our drinking water.