What Is the Primary Function of a Plumbing Backflow Valve?


Quick Answer

Plumbing backflow valves help prevent contaminated water from flowing back into plumbing systems, which can lead to contamination of drinking water or similar hazards. These backflow systems use a series of valves and seals in plumbing applications to keep waste material and chemicals flowing in the proper direction.

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Full Answer

Backflow valves, often called backflow preventers, are often necessary to meet building code requirements and an essential component for healthy plumbing systems. Cross connections and contaminations could lead to serious illness or incorrect disposal of chemicals, potentially causing long-lasting health and safety repercussions. Many states specifically mandate the type of backflow valves and connections allowed for home and business plumbing systems, and some mandate their use in sprinkler and outdoor water systems as well as indoor plumbing.

Most of these valves connect to many different incoming and outgoing water lines in a home or business, and some use unions or joints that allow for quick and simple replacement as needed. Each backflow valve has a maximum pressure rating that allows it to prevent reversed flow, and installers must avoid exceeding these ratings to ensure successful and safe operation. Backflow valves used in homes or other areas where they control drinking water must comply with the 2014 Federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

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