The Importance of Backflow Prevention Devices for Plumbers

Plumbers are a vital part of making sure that your clean water stays just that, clean. Backflow with contaminated water is a serious problem that can lead to sickness and even death.


Backflow occurs at a point known as a cross-connection between clean and dirty water lines and can cause dangerous contaminants to reverse their flow into your drinking and bathing waters. The two most common causes of backflow are back pressure and back siphonage. Visit to learn more.

A backflow preventer makes sure that your water system always flows in the right direction. It keeps contaminated water from making its way back into your plumbing and into your household. This device can help protect your family from dangerous diseases caused by contaminated water. It also helps ensure that your drinking water remains safe for everyone to consume. Backflow prevention devices are required by most building codes and must be installed at cross-connections where water backflow is likely to occur.

There are different types of backflow preventers, and which one you choose depends on your needs and the location of the cross-connections in your home or business. Some devices require backflow service from plumbers while others are self-contained and can be installed by the homeowner. The most basic backflow prevention device is called an air gap. It’s a simple, inexpensive solution that works by creating a vacuous upright space where backflow can’t occur. It’s recommended that you install an air gap wherever you have a connection to the plumbing system that could be backflow-prone, such as a sink or washing machine drain.

Other backflow prevention devices are more complex and more effective at protecting your water supply. These devices include pressure vacuum breakers and double check valves. Pressure vacuum breakers have a tank that sits close to the water supply line. When the pressure in the tank is higher than the plumbing system’s pressure, it ejects water, which prevents backflow into the system. Pressure vacuum breakers are inexpensive and easy to maintain, but they can be prone to leaking and should not be used in areas with high levels of contamination.

Double check valves have two check valves for redundancy, and they sit at a lower pressure than the plumbing system’s pressure. This means that during backflow, the valves will not open and will essentially be locked in place. Double check valves are safer and more reliable than PVBs, but they are not as convenient because they must be located within six feet of a backflow-prone connection.

Backflow prevention devices are important for homeowners, businesses, and public water systems alike. They are a great way to protect your family from the dangers of contaminated water, and they are also essential for keeping public water supplies clean and healthy. Having your backflow preventers tested and serviced regularly by a professional plumber is the best way to keep them functioning properly.


Plumbers install, maintain, and repair systems that transport water, waste, gas, and heat. They use a wide range of tools to perform their job duties, including wrenches, pipe cutters, soldering equipment, drain augers, and diagnostic tools. They must be familiar with local plumbing codes and regulations. Some plumbers specialize in residential or commercial systems, while others focus on specific types of equipment, such as backflow prevention devices.

Most plumbers begin their careers through a vocational school program or a union-sponsored apprenticeship. After completing their education or training, they must pass a licensing exam to work independently. The length of the apprenticeship varies by state, but most programs last between two and five years and include a mix of classroom instruction and on-the-job training.

In addition to their technical skills, plumbers must have strong customer service and communication skills to effectively interact with clients. They must be able to listen to customers’ concerns and explain complex plumbing solutions in ways that are easy to understand. They also need to be able to collaborate with other professionals, such as engineers and construction teams, to ensure that plumbing is installed properly in new building projects.

Plumbers often work with hazardous materials and in confined spaces, so they must follow all relevant safety protocols and procedures. They also need to be able to work well under pressure and in high-stress situations. Finally, they need to be adaptable and willing to learn new skills as technology and regulations change.

Plumbers often have a varied work schedule, as they may be called out for emergency services at any time. These calls can disrupt their personal lives, and they may need to work evenings or weekends to address them. In addition, plumbers need to be able to solve problems quickly and accurately in order to keep their clients satisfied. They must also be comfortable working with a variety of tools and in confined spaces.


Plumbers must be able to think analytically and approach problems systematically in order to solve them effectively. This requires good mechanical skills, too, which can help them determine what is causing a clog or how to best repair a pipe. Plumbers also need physical stamina and strength, as their job involves a lot of heavy lifting and working in tight spaces.

Installing plumbing systems is another major part of a plumber’s duties. This can involve laying pipes, setting toilets, installing faucets, and hooking up appliances like dishwashers and washing machines. In new construction projects, plumbers work from blueprints and architectural plans to install the necessary plumbing infrastructure. They must also have a strong understanding of building codes and regulations in order to ensure their work is compliant.

Commercial plumbers handle larger-scale plumbing systems that are found in places like office buildings, apartment complexes, and factories. These systems are more complicated than residential plumbing systems, and they often require the use of specialized equipment.

In addition to installing and repairing these large-scale systems, commercial plumbers are also responsible for maintaining them. This includes addressing any issues that might arise, such as leaks, clogs, or backflow prevention devices. Performing regular maintenance on these systems is essential to ensuring that they continue to function properly.

Another important aspect of a plumber’s duties is testing backflow prevention devices. These are used to prevent contaminants like industrial fluids, chemical fertilizers, or manure from contaminating the water supply. During backflow testing, a certified plumber will open and close valves in the system to assess their condition and make sure they are functioning correctly.

Plumbers must be able to communicate clearly with their clients in order to explain the results of their backflow tests and what steps need to be taken to resolve any issues. This requires excellent customer service skills, as well as the ability to provide clear and accurate estimates for work. Plumbers are also often required to travel to different locations in order to complete their work, so they must be reliable and punctual. The demands of a plumbing career can be challenging, but it is a rewarding field for those who are willing to put in the time and effort to learn the necessary skills.


Backflow prevention devices, like all plumbing equipment, need to be maintained. If a test is missed, the device may become defective and allow unsafe water to flow into your home. Testing should be conducted yearly by an experienced plumber.

Lynn Bristol