Sprinkler System Backflow Device

If you have an underground sprinkler system in your yard it is likely that you have a backflow device that is required by the water company to be tested and certified periodically. The number one question we receive about backflows is why the city requires that they be tested. To answer this it is easiest to explain what a backflow device does and how it protects your and your neighbors.

A backflow device is installed where a drinking water source is connected to a non-drinking water source such as in the case of your sprinkler system. The backflow device is basically a one way valve that only allows water to go from the water supply lines from the city towards the output of the lines you have installed in your lawn. This one way valve prevents water that is in your sprinkler system and any contaminants in it from re-entering the water source that feeds water to your home protecting your water supply. One of the biggest concerns would be damaged sprinkler lines allowing contaminants in to the water lines as well as fertilizers and pesticides applied to the lawn. So really the backflow device is to protect you and your neighbors.

How often does my backflow device need to be tested?

This is ultimately determined by the source of your water, however most municipalities require annual testing of backflow devices and will typically send you a notification with your water bill.

Would I know if the backflow device is bad?

In all likelihood you would probably not notice if your backflow was not working properly which is why the cities require testing and certification. If you notice your backflow device leaking water or making an gurgling noise while water is not turned on you probably need to have the backflow preventer checked out.

Who can test and certify my backflow device?

Only licensed backflow testing and certification contractors are permitted to test and certify backflow devices in the State of Tennessee.

What if I don't get my backflow device checked?

It will depend on your water provider but most will give you some time to comply with the required test, if you ignore the request and don't have the certification performed they may disrupt service to your home and irrigation system until you comply.