Posted On:


Why Are Backflow Preventers Important?











With winter drawing to a close and spring on our doorstep, it’s time to check your sprinkler system to ensure that it’s in good working order. Checking your sprinkler irrigation system now, sets you up for a lush green yard all year long.

One of the aspects that requires particular attention is your backflow preventer, which can be easily damaged during a winter freeze. For this reason, backflow inspection is critical.

In Austin, winter freezes are not uncommon, with the average number generally being about 30 freezes between October and March. However, over the past few years, freezing temperatures have occurred far more frequently than average. Due to the hard freeze Austin had this winter, several sprinkler systems that have already been inspected were found to be damaged and leaking.

When water freezes, it expands. Therefore, when water freezes inside a confined space, such as a pipe or valve, the expansion can cause damage. This is no different for backflow preventer assemblies, which can also suffer ruptures and cracks when not adequately winterized or insulated.

Why Are Backflow Preventers Important?

Backflow preventers are a critical component of your sprinkler system, as they play a key role in protecting the potable water supply from contamination. It prevents potentially contaminated water from leaking backwards into your drinking water and the city supply, thereby ensuring the health and safety of the entire community.

Backflow preventers are so important that they are required by law and in good functioning order. The onus for this is on the water user (Home Owner) and sprinkler repair companies.

If you fail to keep your backflow preventer in good working order, you could face legal action and fines. In addition to this, the city has the right to turn your water supply off until your backflow preventer is in place, tested and working.

It’s safe to say its pretty important and it is definitely far cheaper and less hassle to just inspect and maintain your backflow preventer proactively. We can help you with that!

Inspecting Your Backflow Preventer

After the winter freeze has passed and before you turn your sprinklers on for the spring and summer watering seasons, you need to conduct a thorough inspection of your backflow preventer to determine any potential issues that need repair.

Have The Valve Professionally Tested

Visually you cannot determine if the device is performing properly and protecting the water source. This requires a professional licensed tester. To perform a proper test a backflow differential pressure gauge is required. Testing also requires a technician to be licensed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Smart Earth Sprinklers holds licenses in irrigation as well as backflow prevention.

Here Are a Few Things You Can Do Yourself During Your Spring Sprinkler Start Up

  1. Do a Visual Inspection of The Backflow DeviceThe first thing you should do is carry out a thorough visual inspection of the backflow preventer to see if you can detect any cracks, ruptures, or signs of malfunction.
  2. Turn on The Water Supply to The IrrigationIf you notice a significant drop in water pressure, this could be a strong indicator that there is something wrong with the device.
  3. Check The Shut Off Valves on The Backflow DeviceYou should also try to manually open and close the valves to make sure they’re functioning correctly and that they’re not obstructed or damaged. If you detect any rust or degradation that could potentially hinder the functioning of the valves, replace them with Manufacture approved parts.
  4. Check The Backflow Device For LeaksIt’s important to take the time to carefully inspect for leaks. Any sign of a leak around the backflow preventer or in its immediate vicinity could be an indicator that there is a problem with the assembly. If you detect even the smallest leak, it should be addressed, as it could speak to underlying issues that compromise the backflow preventer.

Inspecting the Sprinkler System

Many of these tune-up steps can be done by the do-it-yourself homeowner. However, a professional can do these and more, such as:

  • Inspect the main and lateral lines for leaks.
  • Adjust the arc and distance on all sprinkler heads
  • Check the station control valves for proper operation,
  • Make sure valves are closing properly,
  • Check sensors for proper operation,
  • Inspect system for proper water pressure,
  • Test the valve wiring from the controller,
  • Provide a watering schedule based on current restrictions.
  • Program your controller upon request.