Essentially, a backflow device or an RPZ (Reduced Pressure Zone) valve is a crucial part of the plumbing and other water systems. This valve ensures that any contaminated water does not reach a drinking water source. This occurs in both individual buildings and in city water systems. Backflow devices connect to plumbing, irrigation systems, or fire suppression systems.
The importance of testing these systems cannot be overstated. In irrigation systems and fire suppression systems, contaminants like pesticides or bacteria can build up due to sitting water. As such, if these systems were to back up into drinking water – these contaminants would dump into the drinking source.
Additionally, if a water main breaks or there is a leak, the change in pressure could cause plumbing systems to back up into the drinking water supply. These backflow devices work by sensing this change in pressure and releasing the water rather than allowing it to back up into the drinking supply.
To test these valves, building owners must bring in a licensed plumber once a year to inspect the RPZ valve and renew the certification, confirming that it is functioning properly. Without backflow testing and this certification, drinking water may be at risk.