Backflow Prevention

by John Ward


Homes are meant to keep our families safe, but unfortunately many things in our homes can malfunction make us sick or cause more serious harm. The water you use to bathe, drink and clean with can become contaminated by backflow in your water lines and make you and your family sick.  Water contamination caused by backflow was responsible for more than 4,400 serious illnesses in 2005 according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Backflow is the reversal in water or sewage direction due to reversed water pressure. The reverse pressure can force sewage or other contaminates into your water lines, or it can suck contaminated water back into them.

According to the CDC , 51 percent of waterborne outbreaks caused by distribution system deficiencies between 1971 and 2000 were caused by backsiphonage. Backsiphonage occurs when pressure drops and contaminated water is drawn into the potable system. This can spread diseases like e-coli and Giardia, which cause stomach problems and fever.

The most common ways your home drinking water can become contaminated include:


  • Hoses - Whether you leave the nozzle submerged in a bucket or laying on the ground, backsiphonage can suck contaminated water into your drinking water.
  • Lawn Sprinkler systems - Sprinklers are also susceptible to backsiphonage, and the water drawn back into the system from there will contain fertilizers, pesticides and other organic matter.
  • Break in the city water line -  A break  can allow polluted water and other contaminants to mix with the city water supply.
  • Well water - Well water can come into contact with untreated water from run-off. Malfunctioning well  pumps can also cause backsiphonage.


All new outside hose faucets and lawn sprinkler  systems are required to have built-in backflow prevention devices, but if you haven’t updated your outside faucets or sprinkler system in the past 10 years you may be at risk. The simplest way to prevent contamination is to install new backflow prevention devices on these systems.

If you are concerned about the safety of your water, call Applewood Plumbing Heating & Electric. We can test for contamination and determine the source, or we can install a sprinkler/irrigation system that has built-in back flow prevention.

John Ward has owned and operated Applewood Plumbing Heating & Electric for more than 36 years.  He is a master plumber and recognized as an industry leader for his knowledge and ethical business practices.  Applewood is the 2009 Large Company Better Business Bureau Marketplace of Trust winner and Contractor Magazine’s 2009 Contractor of the Year.