Backflow Testing Procedures

Why is Backflow Testing Necessary?

Backflow is when contaminated water gets mixed with potable water, or water that’s safe to drink. That can become extremely dangerous for obvious reasons, so it’s vitally important to prevent that problem by having a backflow testing procedure done every year.

Even though backflow testing is very important for your home or business and the health of each person who could be exposed to contaminated water, you may not realize if there is a problem. If backflow starts happening, it will not necessarily cause a large, noticeable leak. Your water won’t start coming out of the sink looking brown or yellow. While the taste and quality of your water may change, it might not be noticeable for a long time. You won’t know it is happening until a plumber who is specifically trained completes a backflow test.

Furthermore, since plumbing systems in cities and towns are connected, contaminated water can potentially spread to surrounding homes and businesses. Therefore, an annual test of the backflow in every home and business in Illinois is required by law. The Lake County, IL water use ordinance states that backflow testing is required by law in order to protect the public water supply from contamination or pollutants.

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Where Can Backflow Occur?

Backflow is only possible when there is cross-connection, which is a connection between clean water supply and contaminated or polluted water. If you are not sure what this would look like, you might be surprised to realize that there is probably a perfect example of cross-connection right in your backyard.

After you finish using your garden hose, you might turn the water off and wrap the hose up again immediately. That would prevent your hose from coming in contact with any dangerous substance.

However, many people do not consider this. People will often let their hoses run while sitting in the grass, pool, or anything else, and then leave the hose sitting out. This is how garden hoses can easily come in contact with harsh, toxic chemicals used to kill insects, fertilize lawns, kill weeds, and more.

This is a cross-connection, because the water that originally comes out of your hose is clean, potable water. However, if it sits in a cesspool of bacteria, dirt, or toxins, it is very likely that contaminated or polluted water will make its way back through the hose.

In order to prevent backflow from happening in instances like this, there must be a backflow prevention device at any cross-connection point.

At American National Sprinkler and Lighting, all backflow prevention devices we install are called RPZs, or Reduced Pressure Zones. These backflow prevention devices are approved by the state of Illinois, but they must be checked every year. This simple maintenance procedure is how cities and towns can prevent a backflow problem from occurring.

How Do I Know if My Backflow Has Been Tested?

If you look at your RPZ or backflow prevention device, there should be a small tag hanging on it. That tag must stay on it at all times. This tag should tell you when your device was tested last. If you do not see a tag, or if the date is expired, call American National Sprinkler and Lighting immediately.

If you are the new owner of a home, business, or property in Illinois, it is your responsibility to schedule and complete an annual backflow testing appointment. If you’ve never done this before, contact American National Sprinkler and Lighting to schedule an appointment with a licensed plumber.

American National Sprinkler & Lighting - a close up of a pencial and calendar to write in your backflow testing procedures appointment.

How to Book a Backflow Testing Appointment

Each year, the state of Illinois will send you a notice when it is time to schedule your backflow test. After you complete the test, you also need to make sure your test report gets back to your village and state.

We know what you’re thinking--another thing to do? You already have enough on your to-do list, remembering an annual plumbing appointment is the last thing you want to worry about. If you are a customer at American National Sprinkler and Lighting, you’ll be pleased to know that we make this process as easy as possible. In fact, we don’t need you to make any extra room in your schedule or on your to-do list!

Each spring, we call all of our customers to schedule the opening of their sprinkler for the season. During that call, we will also ask if you’d like us to complete your backflow test. Almost every single one of our customers prefers to have both appointments done at once.

After your test is completed, we will handle all of the paperwork so you don’t have to. We will give you a copy of the backflow test report and file it with your village and the state of Illinois.

What to Expect from the Backflow Testing Procedure

If you aren’t familiar with backflow testing or plumbing, this might sound like an overwhelming or time-consuming task. But with American National Sprinkler and Lighting, you can get your backflow testing done quickly and without adding anything extra to your to-do list.

Here’s a breakdown of what we do during your backflow test:

1. Before the Test

To properly test your backflow, licensed plumbers have to get permission from the owner of each property to temporarily shut the water off. If you are the owner, this doesn’t require any extra steps. However, if you are a property manager, this is something American National Sprinkler and Lighting will take care of for you.

In Illinois and Lake County, almost all of our customer’s RPZs are located on the exterior of their home. If this is the case, you do not even need to be at home for us to complete the test.

Since almost all home and property owners in our area of Illinois have exterior backflow prevention devices, we schedule backflow testing appointments by location. For example, we will schedule and complete 30 or more tests in Highland Park or in Deerfield. Since we are managing your backflow testing procedure, we make the best use of everyone’s time and energy.

In the rare case that your RPZ unit is in the house, we will schedule a more specific day and time to complete your test. If you need to test your pool or fire sprinklers, this will apply to you.

2. During the Test

If you are like the vast majority of Illinois home and business owners, your backflow prevention device is located outside of your home. And in this case, you don’t have to be home during the backflow testing, and the entire process will not interfere with your schedule or routine at all.

Our procedure for backflow testing takes about 20-30 minutes. If you are home, we will let you know that your water will be turned off temporarily.

The backflow testing procedure consists of various checks to make sure your backflow prevention device is, in fact, preventing backflow. All plumbers from American National Sprinkler and Lighting are licensed and use a state-approved gauge that is regularly calibrated.

Backflow can only become a problem when there is a change in water pressure that causes the pressure of contaminated water to become more powerful than the potable water. Therefore, testing your backflow consists of opening and closing valves to make sure that all your maintenance systems are working correctly. If your plumbing system passes the test, it means that your device is doing its job to prevent water pressure from contaminating your water supply.

3. After the Test

After your test has been completed, will we return on a different day to tag your backflow prevention device. This is an additional way to track the maintenance of your device. It shows you and authorities when your last test was completed.

You will also receive a copy of your backflow testing report, and we will mail it to the correct village office. At the end of the year, we also mail out each of our customers’ backflow testing reports to the state office of Illinois.

Get Peace of Mind with Backflow Testing Benefits

If you’ve never heard of backflow testing, it might be scary to think about how dangerous it could be. In fact, it should be scary! If there is a problem with your plumbing system, you could be giving toxic chemicals to your entire family every single day, and not even realize it.

The cost of backflow testing from American National Sprinkler and Lighting is only $85. All you have to do is schedule an appointment, and our plumbers will complete the test while you are at work, school, or having coffee. If you need more information about the pros and cons of backflow testing, read this article.

Your backflow prevention device, or RPZ, should be something that you don’t have to think about or worry about. When you choose to work with us, we take care of every detail. You can be sure that your water is always clean--all you have to do is say yes!

You can call us at 847-338-0321, or fill out our form below.

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