Everything You Need To Know About Backflow Testing

Everything You Need To Know About Backflow Testing

Backflow testing helps preserve a safe and clean water supply, yet many people don’t realize its important role. Backflow presents several risks that can lead to serious health concerns for your customers and employees, so legal requirements in some areas necessitate yearly backflow tests. Let’s look at everything you need to know about backflow testing and why it’s important.

What Is Backflow Testing, and Why Is It Important?

Backflow testing is a process that determines if there are any contaminants in your business’s water supply. Contamination occurs when the water pressure in the pipes leading to your commercial building drops below the pressure of the contaminated water source, causing polluted water to flow backward into the clean drinking supply. 

Advantages of Getting Your Backflow System Tested

There are several benefits to having a certified technician test your backflow prevention system. 

First, you can ensure your customers and employees get only the cleanest water. If any pollutants or contaminants have entered the drinking supply, the backflow test will detect them, and you’ll know immediately to take action.

Second, many areas require regular backflow testing as part of their local plumbing codes. Regularly testing your system can prevent costly fines and ensure you comply with the law. 

Finally, regular backflow testing helps protect the greater community and everyone entering your building. Having a certified technician test for pollutants will make everyone’s water supply safer. 

Types of Backflow Prevention Devices and When To Test Them

Several types of backflow prevention devices exist, and each one should undergo testing at least once a year. The most common type is an air gap device. This device prevents stormwater backflow from entering a rainwater tank. It creates a physical air break on the outlet of the tank overflow. Other backflow prevention devices include pressure vacuum breakers, double-check valves, and reduced pressure zone devices. 

Common Problems Found in Backflow Prevention Systems and How To Identify Them

There are several common problems that a backflow test can identify. Let’s look at a few of the most common ones.

Broken Valves

Valves are crucial to backflow prevention systems, regulating the water flow and preventing backflow. Broken valves may allow debris, air, and chemicals to infiltrate the system, compromising its integrity. To identify a broken valve, check for leaks, reduced water pressure, and turbid water. You can also periodically perform a valve exercise test, which involves opening and closing the valves to ensure they’re not stuck or broken.


Clogs are another common backflow system problem that can obstruct the water path and cause overflow or underperformance. Clogs may form due to sediment buildup, debris, tree roots, or grease accumulation. To identify a clog, check for pooling water, slow drainage, water backing into fixtures, and unpleasant odors. You can use a sewer camera or auger tool to pinpoint and remove the clog’s location.


Corrosion occurs when the metal components of the backflow prevention system rust due to exposure to water or chemicals. Corrosion may result in leaks, weakened pipes, and contaminated water. Check for reddish-brown water, pipe discoloration, leaks, and odd smells to identify corrosion. You may need to replace the corroded parts or install a new system if the damage is extensive.

Improper Installation

Backflow prevention devices require professional installation to ensure they function correctly. Improper installation can lead to leaks, malfunctions, and code violations. To identify faulty installation, check for loose or incorrect fittings, wrong placement, inaccurate testing, and no backflow device badge or inspection tag. You should only hire licensed and certified backflow testers and installers to avoid such issues.

Neglect and Maintenance

Lastly, backflow prevention systems may encounter problems due to a lack of care and maintenance. Neglecting or forgetting to test, inspect, or repair your backflow prevention device can lead to legal penalties, water contamination, and health hazards. To identify a neglected or poorly maintained device, look for missing inspection tags, outdated certifications, unclear or incomplete testing results, and no or incorrect maintenance records. You should schedule regular maintenance and testing of your backflow prevention device by a qualified technician and keep thorough records of the inspections and repairs.

Tips for a Successful Backflow Test

Now that you have a better understanding of backflow testing and the potential problems it can help identify, these are some tips to ensure your test is successful.

  • Make sure you hire a certified technician with experience in backflow testing and repairs.
  • Ensure the technician has all the necessary certifications for your industry and provides documentation or proof of expertise.
  • Have the technician verify that all parts and connections are in good working order.
  • Request an up-to-date inspection tag on any backflow device you have installed.
  • Make sure the technician performs a thorough test using approved testing procedures. 
  • Keep accurate records of the tests and repairs for future reference. 

By following these tips and getting your backflow system tested every year, you can help keep your employees and customers safe by ensuring the water for your business is contaminant-free. 

Costs Associated With Testing a Backflow System

The cost of backflow testing depends on a few factors, including the size and complexity of your system, the type of device you have installed, and whether any repairs are necessary. You can expect additional costs if any repairs or replacements are required. 

How To Find an Experienced Contractor for Testing

There are a few options for finding an experienced contractor for backflow testing. 

First, ask your peers and other business owners whom they have used. Chances are, someone you know has had a similar experience with backflow testing and can provide valuable insight into what to look for when hiring a contractor. 

Second, you can search online for certified professionals in your area. Make sure to read reviews and ask for references before hiring anyone. 

Finally, you can contact your local water authority or plumbing code enforcement agency to get a list of licensed contractors in the area. Regardless of your choice, research and hire an experienced professional who is certified and knowledgeable about backflow testing. 

Backflow testing is important to maintaining a safe and clean water supply for your business and its surrounding community. By understanding everything you need to know about backflow testing, you’ll be prepared to keep the water supply safe. 

If you need commercial plumbers in Northern California for your backflow testing needs, call Fletcher’s Plumbing & Contracting today. We provide comprehensive backflow testing services and can help you keep the water supply clean and safe. Contact us to learn more about our services and schedule an appointment. 

Everything You Need To Know About Backflow Testing