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prevent backflow contamination

How Can I Prevent Backflow Contamination?

British Columbia is lucky in the sense that there is certainly not a lack of high-quality drinking water. Many countries do not have this privilege or access to fresh water. In Vancouver and the Lower-Mainland, it’s safe to drink water directly from the tap. Despite our high water quality, however, there are a few factors that can contaminate crystal clear water in your home. In this post, we will discuss the risks of backflow contamination and how you can prevent it.

What Is Backflow?

Backflow can happen in any variety of circumstances, in the field of plumbing, “backflow” is a term used to simply describe a reverse flow of water. In serious cases, it can cause harmful water contamination. This happens when unclean water flows back into the clean water, effectively tainting it.

Reversal of water flow can happen in your home and affect your drinking water. The most basic example of backflow contamination is when the backflow from a toilet bowl water taints the toilets’ water supply tank. Backflow causes two normally separate bodies of water to mix. It can contaminate otherwise clean water.

Causes Of Backflow

Problems with backflow occur when there is a change in water pressure between two, separate bodies of water. Your water must be kept at a certain pressure level in order for it to be able to flow adequately from your tap, shower, toilet and any other appliance in your home. When there is a change in the water pressure, it can disrupt the normally regular flow. There is a perfect balance of water pressure that’s required for your water to flow normally. When there is a change in this pressure, the water can “flow backward.”

The Following Are Common Causes Of Backflow Contamination:

  • Backpressure – Pressure that causes the reverse flow of water.
  • Backsiphonage – Happens when there is a type of vacuum or negative pressure in your water supply system.
  • Worn parts – Old or worn parts can lose their effectiveness over time. This can lead to problems with backflow.
  • A broken water main – When a water main breaks it can affect water pressure and cause backflow to occur.
  • Weak water pressure

In all instances where there is a change in water pressure, you are at risk for backflow and water contamination. For example, a leak or crack in your pipes can cause water pressure to change and weaken.


Backflow can also happen when there is nothing wrong with your pipes. It can occur due to an external event as well. For example, if a fire crew were to use water from several fire hydrants close to your home, the community water pressure will be lower due to the sudden surge of water supply. In this case, there is nothing wrong with your plumbing system, but it’s best to have a backflow prevention device in place to prevent contamination while you’re experiencing low water pressure.

Backflow Testing

Your backflow prevention system should be monitored annually by a plumbing professional. Your plumber can perform a routine backflow test on the appliances in your home. Likewise, if you have recently moved into a new home, or you have an older home, it’s a good idea to have a plumber perform a backflow test to ensure that all valves are functioning properly. The City of Vancouver requires backflow testing for larger residential and commercial properties, so call Hillcrest Plumbing & Heating if you require backflow testing.

Backflow Prevention Devices

Your plumber can install or replace your backflow prevention valve in your home. The most basic backflow prevention device is called a check valve. The backflow prevention device will help maintain your water pressure. It will separate pure water from unclean water to ensure they do not mix. Learn more about the many devices we use for backflow prevention by visiting our backflow prevention page.

Contact Hillcrest Plumbing & Heating

At Hillcrest Plumbing & Heating we offer same day service, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We are always there for your plumbing, heating and drainage needs. Contact us immediately if you think you may have tainted water caused by backflow. You can also contact us for backflow maintenance and yearly backflow testing. We bring over 50 years of plumbing experience to the industry, so you know that you’re choosing the professionals when you pick Hillcrest Plumbing & Heating.

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A Notice to Our Customers – COVID-19 Update

As the COVID-19 situation continues to develop, Hillcrest Plumbing & Heating remains committed to serving the communities of the Lower Mainland. Based on recommendations from provincial and federal health authorities, we have made some changes to the way we provide service during onsite calls and at our retail store to ensure the health of our customers, technicians, and the communities they live in.

Updates to our business hours and level of service will continue to be provided through our website and social media accounts, and our 24-hour emergency hotline can be called for urgent plumbing and heating repairs at (604) 879-1415.

For more information, please click the button below to visit our dedicated COVID-19 update page.