What is the Law Regarding Backflow Testing in Virginia?
Essentially, because backflow assemblies are mechanical devices and subject to potential failure, all backflow devices must be tested on at least an annual basis. New assemblies, as well as repaired or relocated devices, must also be tested. This requirement originates from the Virginia Maintenance Code, the International Plumbing Code, and also from standards maintained by the EPA Cross Connection Control Manual.
Why is Backflow Testing Important?
Testing your backflow prevention device is crucial in ensuring that they are functioning properly and not in imminent danger of failing or causing a problem in the connecting water system. Backflow assemblies also reduce the chances of contamination by hazardous waste produced by irrigation systems; these include fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, and fecal matter. Many residential users do not know how to test their system, nor do they hold the certification required by local and state law, so it is to their benefit to have a professional take care of testing and certification for them to avoid costly problems, citations, or loss of water service.
What Happens During the Testing Process?
Customers who have backflow assemblies installed on their property will be informed by their local water system via letter, telling them when their annual testing report is due. In general, only residents with irrigation and/or sprinkler systems, boilers, geothermal heating, or medical equipment tied into the public water system have backflow devices that require testing and certification.
Prior to the due date, homeowners should have testing completed by a certified inspector from a list of approved vendors. Homeowners are required to send a copy of the testing report to the Department of Public Utilities within thirty days of the testing date.
What Causes Backflow?
Backflow appears in two ways: backpressure and backsiphonage. Both are undesirable in terms of their effect on water quality and public health and safety.
In general, backflow, refers to the reverse flow of non-potable water or other liquids into the pipes of public or consumers’ potable water systems. This often occurs through a cross-connection. Backflow must be controlled to prevent contamination between drinking water and non-drinking or used water. Precautions must be taken to protect public water systems against potential backflow events.