Most people use water every day in their homes, but few stop to think about where it comes from. Water is delivered into our homes via water distribution systems. Water distribution systems are designed so that water flows in only one direction. This allows a fresh supply of water to travel directly from the centre of distribution to the consumer.

However, it is possible for the system of delivery to breakdown or develop complications that prevent the water from flowing in its intended direction. When this occurs, and water ends up flowing in the opposite direction from that intended, the result is known as backflow.

Why Does Backflow Matter?

Backflow is significant because it can create circumstances that are harmful to water consumers. Water can be contaminated by unhealthy water from various sources, including dishwashers, toilets, washing machines and so on.

While backflow is typically a problem that does not immediately cause severe repercussions, there is still the possibility of someone coming to harm. In fact, backflow has resulted in the hospitalization of consumers in the past, and it has also resulted in explosions in rare, extreme circumstances.

What Causes Backflow?

Backflow is most commonly caused in the cross-connections between various water distribution areas, which can easily be seen in the example above regarding potential sources of potential contamination.

This is typically the result of a buildup or drop-off of excess pressure in the tank or water distribution system. This usually involves a situation where the water system’s pressure is higher than that of the pressure in the tank.

Some common reasons for this include a sudden drop in municipal water pressure, which can often be the result of a fire hydrant being used, a failure at a pump station, or even a broken water main.

The result of such situations is the creation of back pressure, which forces contaminated water up the system in the wrong direction, contaminating water on its way to consumers.

If you suspect you are suffering from backflow, it is important to act immediately to correct the situation and to contain and halt any potential contamination. The best thing to do is call an experienced plumbing service who can examine the situation and solve the problem.

If you are in need of backflow preventers and/or further professional expertise on the topic of backflow, Imagine Plumbing is among Alberta’s premier professional plumbers. Contact us today for more information.