If you’ve looked closely at an outdoor faucet and noticed that it looks a little bulky, you might be wondering what’s going on. It has to have a special valve called a vacuum breaker. A vacuum breaker prevents backflow, which is important when you want to keep your drinking water clean. Without such a device, water can reverse its flow and get into your home’s water supply. If your garden hose, for example, has been in contact with fertilizer, you don’t want all of those chemicals getting into your water supply. If you’re connected to a municipal water source, you don’t want your neighbors to contaminate your community’s water supply either. A vacuum breaker is a useful tool that can prevent this problem from occurring.
Why Water Pressure Matters
When you use your garden hose, the direction of water flow is pretty obvious. You open up your valve, and water flows out of the hose, and when you turn off the valve, the water stops. It might be hard to imagine water flowing in the opposite direction.
Backflow can happen when there’s a change in water pressure. Let’s say you’re connected to the city water line. You really don’t have any control over what is happening with this line, and the water in the pipes can be used for a variety of things. In some scenarios, the water pressure in your home can drop. One scenario is if there’s a break in the line somewhere. A leak would disrupt the system and create a drop in pressure further up the line. Another scenario is if firefighters have to respond to an emergency and start diverting a lot of water as part of their efforts. When the pressure drops, the water flow can be reversed. In other words, it’s as if a vacuum has started sucking up the water. This can be stronger than the flow of gravity, so any water in the system may start to flow backward. When the water pressure has been regulated and goes back to its original state, the water that goes into the system can then be pushed out.
If all the water that went into the system was completely clean, then there shouldn’t be a problem. However, we can’t guarantee that this will be true. Especially in the case of outdoor faucets and anything that’s attached to them, there’s a chance that harmful contaminants could get into the water supply.
Outdoor faucets are used for a variety of reasons. Garden hoses can come into contact with many kinds of substances. Some people buy fertilizer containers that can be connected to their hoses. When you turn on the water, it mixes with the fertilizer and gets sprayed out in an optimal concentration. This method can be really convenient since it allows you to skip the step where you have to mix up the solution yourself. There are also weed killers that come in these same kinds of containers. In addition, manufacturers make cleaning solutions for roofs, siding, decks and vehicles using containers that are compatible with hoses.
As you might imagine, these substances contain a lot of ingredients. Some of these are quite toxic, so you don’t want to have them come into contact with your skin. You definitely don’t want to be drinking them, either. Even in tiny amounts, these materials could be very harmful to your health.
Even if you don’t use these kinds of products, your garden hose could still come in contact with things that you don’t want to get into your water supply. For instance, if you use a hose to water your plants, you probably leave that hose outdoors when you’re not using it. Animals could come by and leave waste on or near it, and dirt and debris could find their way inside the hose. After a rainy day, a puddle could form near the end of the hose, and this could bring certain particulates in contact with the hose too.
We put a lot of effort into making our water clean and protecting it from any contamination. It would be unfortunate if anything from your yard were to get in the water supply.
Addressing the Issue
A simple device can prevent the backflow of water. It’s called a vacuum breaker. This vacuum breaker functions like a one-way valve. It allows water to flow in one direction but not the other. In other words, it breaks the vacuum that may result from a drop in pressure in the water supply. Vacuum breakers are very affordable and can be quickly installed. If an outside faucet doesn’t already have one built-in, an external vacuum breaker can be attached to it. These external vacuum breakers are very affordable as well.
Faucets with vacuum breakers are labeled as such. However, it’s not as simple as it may seem. These devices are labeled with numbers and letters that indicate various levels of protection. There are several different labels that faucets may have, so it may be best if you consult with a professional on this in order to make sure you have the right equipment. Some are more suitable for high-hazard environments, while others may be better for low-hazard ones. Plus, certain types can be used under continuous pressure, while others cannot. At High 5 Plumbing, we have a lot of experience when it comes to outdoor plumbing, and we can help anyone in the Denver area with this matter.
In most places, the law requires that any type of cross-connection be protected by a backflow prevention device. A cross connection is when potable water (which is considered safe to drink) has a connection to non-potable water (which has not been deemed safe to drink). Commercial, industrial and multi-family residential properties are usually inspected periodically to ensure that such devices exist and are working properly. If you have a single-family home, you may not be subject to such stringent regulations, but you should still have a vacuum breaker installed. When selling a home that doesn’t have a vacuum breaker on an outdoor faucet, an inspector will likely bring this up as an issue that needs to be resolved.
Ready to Help You
At our business, which was founded in 2012, we focus on the positive. We warmly greet all of our customers and make sure they feel comfortable asking us their questions. We have a team of skilled employees who can assist with a variety of projects. As previously mentioned, we’d be happy to take a look at your outdoor faucets and make sure they’re in compliance with safety standards. We can make any adjustments as necessary to your indoor or outdoor fixtures, including those in the kitchen or bathroom. In addition, we offer services related to gas appliances, water heaters, drains, sewer lines, water lines and sump pumps. Our technology allows us to offer hydro-jetting services, and we can perform video inspections as well. Relationships are important to us, and that’s why we offer a club membership. As part of our club, you can take advantage of discounts, priority service, emergency plumbing services and free yearly inspections. Contact High 5 Plumbing if you’d like to hear more!