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Periodic Testing Of Backflow Prevention Devices At Medical Facilities

Much of the responsibility for protecting the quality of public water supplies rests at the state and local level. Office buildings that house medical providers are usually subject to regulations that require the periodic inspection of backflow prevention devices.

A backflow prevention device is a mechanical valve installed on the water supply line near the junction point where the main supply line connects to your plumbing system. The purpose of backflow prevention is to keep water inside your office building from accidentally re-entering the main water supply. Various types of occurrences in your community could disrupt the normal flow of water at your business if not for a functioning backflow prevention valve.

An open fire hydrant or a rupture in the main supply pipes could cause a drop in the water system pressure. The area of piping with lower pressure may briefly siphon water backward from outlying sections of piping. During that time, properly functioning backflow devices are essential in order to protect the integrity of the public water system.

Unique medical concerns

Water used in a medical practice may contain chemicals or other medical by-products. At least one large city has added an additional regulation specific to dentists, requiring backflow protection on each individual dental station. In addition to medical facilities, many other business types are required to maintain adequate backflow protection.

Mechanical valve design

The typical backflow prevention device is essentially two valves built into a metal housing. Each valve is a one-way valve, allowing water to flow in only one direction. Having two valves helps ensure that protection from backflow is not compromised if one valve fails. The mechanical device contain parts that can possibly weaken over time.

Backflow prevention devices contain springs and seals that may fail. The metal housing surrounding the valves may develop an imperfection significant enough to affect internal pressure. Many municipalities require testing of installed backflow devices on an annual basis.

Testing procedures

A visual inspection is not adequate. Backflow prevention devices contain connection points at which test equipment is attached. A specialized gauge must be used to measure the pressure within your backflow prevention device. The test equipment is calibrated and the backflow device must perform with specified parameters.

The backflow prevention device is usually located near the water meter for your medical facility. If necessary, the device can be replaced. Contact a commercial plumbing services company, like Cleary Plumbing , for more information of the specific regulations of your water supplier.


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