Common Causes of Plumbing Leaks

Common Causes of Plumbing Leaks

It’s never a good thing to discover that you’ve got a leak somewhere in your home, and while the professionals at Garvin’s Sewer Service are always available to fix plumbing issues you may have, it doesn’t make the reality of those imminent repairs any easier to swallow. They can waste water, leave water damage on your floors and ceilings, and even lead to mold growth. In short, it’s something that should be fixed immediately.

Not knowing where those leaks are coming from can be equally frustrating, so the following is a look at the most common causes of plumbing leaks we see here at Garvin’s Sewer Service:

#1 Broken Seals

When you first buy and install appliances, there are various seals around all the water connections that ensure proper water pressure in the appliances themselves while also keeping drips and leaks from finding their way to your floor. If there’s a broken seal somewhere, you may notice condensation on the appliance or a small puddle near the seal.

#2 Clogs

Everybody has experienced a clog in their drain at some point, but in certain instances those clogs can lead to much bigger problems, such as overflowing or burst pipes. 

#3 Corrosion

The older your home gets, the older the pipes inside the walls are going to get, and sometimes, that could mean corrosion. If you notice discoloration or warping of any visible pipes, it’s possible they need replacement to repair the leaks that either are coming or may be on their way if you don’t correct the issue.

#4 Damaged Joints

The joints that connect pipes together are a common place for water to break through. If the seals in those joints fail, or excess water pressure puts too much stress on the joints, water can leak through.

#5 Extreme Changes in Temperature

There’s nothing any home or business owner can do about the weather, but it is worth knowing that extreme changes in temperature can lead to leaks. Your pipes can expand and contract with the rapid drop or rise in temperature, and in so doing they can experience the sort of damage that causes leaks.

#6 Tree Roots

This is sort of a worst-case scenario because it usually means the professionals at Garvin’s Sewer Service may have some digging to do, but tree roots can grow straight through your sewer line, causing standing water in your showers and other drains. If you notice any or all of these things, it’s important to get in touch with a plumber right away. They can clean the line to clear the roots, or even run a sewer scope through the line to discover what is causing the issues.

If you’ve got a leak in your home, Garvin’s Sewer Service offers plumbing leak repair and sewer scope services to ensure that the problem gets fixed immediately. Leaks left alone for too long can cause all sorts of damage to your home, so nipping the issue in the bud before it gets too bad is essential when these sorts of leaks appear. Call today for a Speedy Fast Quote: 303-571-5114.

What to Do If You Have a Burst Pipe

What to Do If You Have a Burst Pipe

There are few nightmarish homeowner situations worse than a burst pipe. For starters, many people don’t have the first idea what to do when this happens, but the mess alone is about as frustrating as house damages can get. The professionals at Garvin’s Sewer Service obviously can help, but there are a few things our customers can do while they wait for the professionals to arrive.

If you should experience a burst pipe, follow these tips to help get your home back in working (dry) order.

Step #1: Turn Off the Water

As is the case any time there is water behaving in ways it should not throughout your house, the first step always is to turn off the water. Whatever damage has been done, you can at least minimize any further problems by stopping the water from flowing. To do this, you’ll need to find your water main and turn the lever so it’s perpendicular to the pipe. Once it’s off, you’ll need to drain the pipes, and you can do that by running all the faucets in your house until they go dry. When there is no more running tap water, the leak should stop.

Step #2: Find the Source of the Damage

After you’ve shut off the water, you’ll want to find the source of the damage to assess exactly how big a problem you’ve got. A major water pipe, for example, is a much bigger problem than a single pipe under a sink.

Step #3: Call a Plumber

Your next step will be to make sure you get a professional to your house as soon as possible to begin the repair process. Here at Garvin’s Sewer Service, we specialize in emergency drain cleaning service and ruptured pipes, so if you want to make sure the water is truly stopped and return function to your sinks, showers, and toilets, you’ll need to call us as soon as possible so we can fix the problem and get things functional again.

Step #4: Clean Up What You Can

While you wait for our professionals to show up, you can begin cleaning up whatever water you can. Sometimes, these jobs are too big for a single person to even know where to begin, but if you can use buckets, mops, and towels to clean up some of the mess, you absolutely should. Water damage can easily lead to mold, and the sooner you clean it up, the more likely you are to avoid the worst of that.

Step #5: Consider Hiring a Drying Crew

Sometimes, it’s in your best interest to hire a professional drying crew. They can minimize the formation of mold and get your furniture up on blocks so everything can dry. There may be other repairs in the future, including replacing flooring or drywall, but a drying service can salvage what they can before making those expensive decisions.

It is not ideal to have a pipe burst but remember that Garvin’s Sewer Service can help if this should happen. Never hesitate to call us if this problem arises. We even have a call line for off-hours emergencies should something like this happen in the middle of the night. Either way, we are the plumbing professionals that can help get your pipes fixed and your water working normally again.

Flushable not flushable

Why Only Flush Toilet Paper?

Like most women, you have been to a bathroom, whether private or public, and a sign has been prominently displayed in the stall that reads: “Please don’t flush anything but toilet paper”. While this seems straightforward, it is still confusing, especially because we are told certain products are “flushable”, including tampon cores, wipes, and paper towel. So, what’s the deal?

If you’ve ever owned a home, you have likely had the unpleasant experience of a sewer line back up. It may have started with a toilet gurgle, or may have just surprised you with a basement puddle of sewage. You likely contacted a sewer cleaning company and had them take care of the problem. Often, but not always, the sewer technician will let you know what caused the problem – tree root overgrowth, tampons, and too much paper tend to be the biggest culprits. Let’s talk more about each so you can understand why just because something says it’s flushable, it doesn’t mean it is wise to do so.

Tree Root Overgrowth

The trees in your yard, or even your neighbor’s yard, can grow into the porous material of your sewer line, especially at sewer line joints. These roots act as a strainer, capturing debris and usually letting water pass. Of course, water won’t be able to flow through once too much debris has collected. This is why what you flush matters – anything that doesn’t quickly and easily break down runs the risk of being grabbed and held onto including…

Toilet Paper

All toilet papers are designed to break down in sewer and septic systems. Plush and ultra types of toilet paper tend to take longer to disintegrate and often absorb water, turning them into globs of paper before they hit the city sewer main. Clumps of this toilet paper don’t pass as easily through your home’s pipes and sit in your line like spit wads on elementary school ceilings. Add sewer roots to the mix and you can see why the wrong toilet paper can be a problem.

Tampons

Tampons, not the applicators (which most women know are not flushable), but the cotton/rayon tampon itself, is not to be flushed. Yes, they are small enough to make it through the waste lines, but don’t dissolve or breakdown like paper products do. Instead, wrap them in toilet paper like you do feminine pads and dispose of them in the trash. Again, if roots are in the line, they will grab the tampons and cause a clog. Without roots, tampons can still sit in the line, catch other debris, and prevent water from passing through.

Other Items

Other items that say they are flushable, but really can cause problems in your sewer include wipes and paper towels. They are both made out of paper, so will dissolve, but they don’t do it quickly. Instead, they are more cloth like, creating large clogs.

Overall, if it can go in the trash, rather than down the drain, it’s better to throw it away. This includes items like dental floss, cotton balls/swabs and similar items.

Bottom Line

Whether or not is says it is flushable, do your best to limit toilet waste to septic friendly paper and human waste. Anything more can result in messy sewer line back-ups and unneeded frustrations. If you experience recurring clogs or back-ups, ask your sewer line technician what steps you can take to reduce them.

Garvin’s Sewer Service has been serving the Greater Denver and Boulder resident’s home and business plumbing drain cleaning needs for over 75 years! Give us a call today if we can help you with your sewer or plumbing needs at 303-571-5114.

 

The Most Common Winter Plumbing Issues

When people agree to purchase a home, they also agree to assume all the expenses that come with such an investment, and it certainly does seem like more things go wrong in the dead of winter than at any other time of year, especially when it comes to plumbing. Here at Garvin’s Sewer Service, we field a lot of phone calls during the colder months of the year, and we obviously are happy to help how we can. Still, considering how in-demand a plumbing repair service technician is from November through March, it is worth knowing what may be going wrong with your plumbing so you can keep an eye on it throughout winter.

The following are four of the most common winter plumbing issues our professionals deal with during the colder month:

Frozen Pipes

Far and away the most common problem in the winter months is frozen pipes, which obviously happens when the weather gets so cold that your pipes (and the water therein) freeze. The first thing to do if you feel like this may be the problem is turn off your water at the supply to keep any more water from clogging up and bursting the pipes. After that, it’s best to call a plumbing repair service right away so they can diagnose and correct the problem, which can be significant if left unattended.

Water Line Break

Another side effect of standing water in freezing pipes is the potential for a water line break. When water freezes inside a line, it can cause blockages that can grow and eventually cause major leaks that can be expensive to repair. There are pressure relief valves that can be installed in your water line in certain areas to help make sure these blockages don’t occur, but that typically requires professional help.

A Lack of Hot Water

We also get a lot of phone calls about water heater problems, which happen this time of year because the water being pulled in travels through very cold pipes, meaning it takes longer for that water to heat up. While this itself is more inconvenience than major problem, it is true that water heaters work harder in the winter and that people use more hot water when it’s cold outside, so more problems do occur with these this time of year.

Clogged Drains

Interestingly, we also get more calls for clogged drains during the holidays, likely because people are cooking and hosting parties so much more often than at other times in the year. With more cooking comes more sink and garbage disposal use, and with increased use comes the higher potential for something to go wrong. If and when that does happen, a professional plumber can help clear up the problem and get your drains unclogged for even more holiday cheer.

An Experienced Englewood, Co Plumber

If any of these issues rear their ugly heads in your home this winter, give us a call here at Garvin’s Sewer Service. Our skilled professionals will have you up and running in no time, even if Jack Frost makes it harder than ever to make those repairs!

3 Plumbing Issues to Check Right Now

“Rain, rain, go away, come again another day!”

Plumbing Issues to Check Right Now

Boy, have we received tons of rain this summer! As long as the rain doesn’t turn into hail, flooding or high winds, is great for our grass and plants. However, rain can also bring some unpleasant effects as well. And, with the amount of damage water can cause, and rather quickly, we want to bring up 5 plumbing issues to check out right now.

  1. Sump pumps

The Denver area hasn’t historically been known for humidity and water, but the last few years have changed that. We have experienced flooding- whether freak rain storms to burn scar run off- and this has caused us to consider installing sump pumps. Sump pumps are designed to pump excess water from an indoor space back outside. Many Denver homeowners are considering them to protect their basements from flooding.

  1. Sprinklers and hoses

Turn on your hoses and sprinklers and walk around to look for areas of water shooting, dripping or running where it shouldn’t be. Check your basement, crawlspace and around the hose bib. Cold weather may have damaged your exterior pipes and many factors could have contributed to broken sprinkler systems including sprinkler heads broken off. Be sure to detach your hose before the first frost comes, in Denver, usually around Halloween.

  1. Sewer line & drains

Heavy rains don’t just bring grass growth, they bring root growth as well. Consider a main sewer line cleaning to clear the line of any root growth. French drains, as well as gutters and downspouts can clog with mud, leaves and other debris and could cause water to dam, creating big problems. Be proactive and save money and hassle by performing preventative rather than emergency plumbing issues.


If you are in the Greater Denver area and are looking for a quality drain and sewer cleaning service, Garvin’s Sewer Service would love to earn your business. With over 75 years in the drain and sewer cleaning business, our knowledgeable staff is here to help you. Call today with questions, for pricing, or to learn more: 303- 571- 5114

What Is Limescale, And Does It Affect Plumbing?

fb-limeWant to see something really cool and really scary? Click this link.

Okay, are you back? That was limescale, and the scary part is it’s hard to tell where the pipe ends and the limescale beings. The limescale in that photo has built up over many years and, as you can probably guess, is seriously preventing the water from flowing as it should.

What is limescale? Does it affect plumbing in Denver? Can it really be that bad? Let’s take look.

What Is It?

Limescale is a solid deposit that is found when hard water evaporates, leaving behind the minerals. These naturally-occurring minerals and compounds are mostly calcium bicarbonate, calcium carbonate, and magnesium.

Is Denver’s Water Hard or Soft?

Rainwater is naturally soft and contains no minerals, so you might think that as close as we are to the source of the country’s water that our water would be naturally soft. But you also have to remember that our relatively shallow rivers are fast-moving; more of the water touches the rocks and wears it away. That means that Denver’s water tends toward the hard side; in fact, it’s slightly harder in winter. Because of this, Denver’s water tends to form limescale.

side-limeWhere Does It Cause the Biggest Problems?

Limescale can cover the inside of pipes, making it harder for water for pass through them. (Click on that link above again…the pipe is now half the size it once was.) It can also cause scale to form in toilets, which doesn’t cause problems but can be unsightly.

Another problem that limescale causes is in reducing the efficiency of hot water heaters. The water heater will bring in water, and the limescale settles to the bottom. After many years, a substantial part of the bottom of the hot water heater can become filled with this sediment.

And Yet It Can Be Beneficial

In our previous blog we told you all about the dangers of having lead service pipes heading into your home. Interestingly enough, a home with lead pipes can have its water tested and come up completely lead-free. How is this possible? Because over the decades limescale can actually coat the inside of the lead pipes, preventing any of the water from touching the lead! While this makes for less efficient pipes, it does prevent the homeowners from drinking contaminated water.

How Do You Get Rid of It

There are ways to remove limescale from just about any surface, including the inside of a hot water heater. These solutions are often incredibly acidic and harmful to human skin and eyes, so they should be used with caution and only by a professional. An example of such a limescale-destroying chemical is hydrochloric acid, which reduces the scale to carbon dioxide and salt.

The Denver area might not have the hardest water, but it is on the hard side. How much do you have to worry about limescale? Much of it has to do with the age of the pipes in your home. If you have concerns, contact your local plumber and we can take a look.

 

 

 

Should You Consider Having a Plumber Install A Home Water Filtration System?

fb-safepipesWith the recent crisis in Flint, Michigan, regarding the high levels of toxins in their water supply, more citizens have been paying closer attention to the water supply here in Denver and all along the front range. People have been asking plumbers if installing a permanent water filter in their homes is a good idea. Well, the answer comes down to a very definite maybe/maybe not! Let’s take a look at where the water around here comes from and what could make it less than desirable.

Where’s The Water Coming From?

A few months back we wrote a blog about where Denver’s water comes from, but we’ll let denverwater.org sum it up. “Denver Water’s drinking water sources are the South Platte River and its tributaries, the streams that feed Dillon Reservoir, and the creeks and canals above the Fraser River.” All of those rivers are fed by snowmelt and supplemented by mountain storms.

Is There Anything To Be Worried About?

In short, no, but keep reading. Denver’s water turns out to be naturally clean, and the public water service’s test for microbial, chemical, and metallic contaminants all fall within allowed ranges. You might have found a booklet in your mailbox detailing this information, but if you pitched it please enjoy this .pdf from denverwater.org. Click to page 7 and you’ll see that there are no violations in the safe levels of pathogens in the water.

When it comes to lead, our mountain water is lead-free and leaves the water treatment plant lead-free. It’s those last 30 feet that can be a problem…

What About The Pipes Leading to My House?

Flint, Michigan’s main contaminant was lead. During the early part of the 20th century, lead pipes (and pipes soldered together with lead) were used to transport water from the treatment plant and into people’s homes. Lead can leach out into the freshwater, and certain other contaminants can make it leach out even faster. While the idea of using lead pipes seems insane today, the dangers of lead weren’t known as well back then.

Up until the 1950s, lead was also used in some Denver water pipes. Though the city pipes have since been replaced, there’s no way of knowing which home building contractors were using them when they constructed new neighborhoods. If your house was built during the 1950s and before, there is a chance that you still have lead freshwater pipes. We’d recommend having your water tested if you live in an older house. The good news? You can get a free lead test from your Denver water supplier here.

What If I’m Not On A Public Source?

Things can certainly change for those who are not on public water supplies. If you are using well water, the amount of water quality variation can be considerable from well to well. This depends on depth of the well, proximity to farmland and the chemicals in use, and many other factors. In Colorado, in-house water filtration is most often used by those on well water systems; your local plumber will be more than happy to help you install a water filtration system.


side-safepipesSo, Should I Invest in Water Filtration?

After all that information, you have to ask the question: should I invest in water filtration? Like we said before, the answer is a definite “maybe.” Let’s take a look at a few of the reasons homeowners have a plumber install a permanent water filtration system.

If You Suspect Lead – If you suspect lead, click that link on the free lead test from above. Simply having your service lines replaced won’t do any good if the lines supplying your neighborhood aren’t also replaced. Doing so could take years; installing a water filtration system will help protect you from lead.

If You Get Your Water From A Well – Unless you grew up drinking well water, it probably tastes bad to you. It will be worth it even if the only benefit of the water filtration system is that it helps you drink more water. Of course, you’ll also have the added benefit of filtering out heavy metals and pesticides, so having a water filtration system installed is nearly always worth it.

Discoloration – Does your water ever take on weird colors, even temporarily? If so, you most certainly need a water filtration system. The discoloration you see could be any number of things, including rust. (While you need iron in your diet, you most certainly don’t need rust!) Get that out of there with water filtration.

Foul Smell Or Taste Similarly, your water shouldn’t smell or taste funny. We have excellent source water and a very good water treatment plant, so if there’s something wrong with your water, the problem is probably closer than you think.

If You’ll Only Accept the Absolute Cleanest Water Denver’s water is pretty clean, but is it 100% contaminant free? No. The chances of it hurting you are astronomically low, but just because it passes government muster doesn’t mean that there’s no chance. If you’re the type of person who buys pesticide-free, non-GMO food, then perhaps that one extra step of filtering your water will put your mind further at ease.

The fact is, Denver’s water is pretty clean. But there are certain times when households might want that extra level of water filtration. A local plumber can help you install one that will put your mind at ease. Contact Garvin’s and we can help!

Happy New Years! Make a Resolution To Take Care of Your Plumbing

side-image_sinks

On behalf of Garvin’s Sewer Service, we’d like to wish you a happy and healthy new year! 2017 will make the 77th year that Garvin’s has been serving the people of Denver and all along the Front Range. We started with rooter service back in the days of less-than-awesome public plumbing, continued with excellent drain cleaning, and then continued our growth with full plumbing services.

As we’ve done for the past seven decades, Garvin’s has resolved to take care of the people of the Front Range when it comes to their plumbing and sewer problems. But we’re also dedicated to helping our neighbors avoid problematic plumbing as much as possible. That’s where this blog comes in, helping you make the best decision when it comes to your freshwater and wastewater. Let’s take a look at some simple resolutions that can make your life easier in 2017.

Compost!

Strangely, composting is one of the most effective ways to take care of your drains and prevent the need for constant drain cleaning. The fact is, garbage disposals are best for incidental food particles that fall down the drain, but there are many food items that aren’t meant to be ground up. The most common offenders are potato peels, mango peels, and other fibrous materials that the disposal simply wasn’t designed to handle. (If you don’t believe us, read your manual. Most say that you shouldn’t try to grind these.)

What should you do with all of these peels? Compost them! Composting cuts down on what goes to the landfill, and it’s a great way to get nutrient-rich dirt for free. Trust us, it’s a great way to get rid of your peels, and if you have kids it makes a great learning experience.

side-thinsinkBe Aware of Warning Signs

If you’ve lived in your house for any length of time, you’ll probably notice when something starts to change. Years ago the water in the kitchen sink drained in a minutes, and now it takes three. Toilets never clogged before, but now you’re having to use the plunger three times a week. Cleaning hair from the first foot of the shower drain simply isn’t fixing the problem like it once did. When you notice that the efficiency of your fixtures is slowly going downhill, maybe it’s time to call a drain cleaning service and have them send everything on its way.

If you’ve just moved into a house, you might not be aware what to look for. After all, you might blame the clogged toilets on the toilet design; maybe you got one of those inefficient low-flow toilets from 1995. But if the house you just moved into is newer than that, it could be that the previous owners simply abused the drain systems more than they should have. And if your house is old and predates the use of PVC (before the 1960s) there’s a good chance that any house-wide problem mean that the iron pipes have given out. Give us a call and we can perform sewer cleaning as well as using a sewer camera to perform a sewer inspection.

Keep That Grease Out Of The Drains

Ah, c’mon, you knew this one was coming. We harp on it quite a bit, but that’s only because we want to deal with the sewer cleaning problems you can’t avoid. This is one you can deal with preventatively. Bacon grease is one of the most obvious offenders, and all you have to do is toss it into the trash instead. Oil is another, because, as slick as it is when it heads down the drain, it can solidify when it hits cold pipes. Do that enough times and you’ll need drain cleaning, or even more involved sewer cleaning. Most people swear they’ll change their habits in the future, but they fall away like so many New Year’s resolutions. Make this the year that you treat your drains better!

Give us a call when you’re having trouble with your sewer system, but we also want to help you prevent some problems that are easy to avoid. Make a New Year’s resolution to take better care of your plumbing, and at the same time you’re taking better care of your home as a whole.

 

 

 

What is PVC, and Why Is It So Amazing?

fb-pvcAbout a year ago we wrote a blog about the many materials that have been used over the years as sewer pipes. The most common types of materials that have been used through the ages are clay, concrete, Orangeburg (wood pulp and tar), transite (concrete and…gulp…asbestos), and cast iron. Each of these had their place in the world during the time they were used, and there’s no doubt that you’ll still see some of them in use for larger projects; we often drive by large-scale plumbing projects with huge concrete sewer pipes.

When it comes to home pipes, almost all wastewater plumbing pipes are made from plastic. And while plastics often get a bad reputation because of the amount that we use once and throw away (water bottles, for example), plastics have amazing properties that make them the ideal choice for certain applications in plumbing. PVC, also known as polyvinyl chloride, is the third most widely used plastic in the world. You might touch it when you push on your home’s screen door, use it when you swipe your bank card, or cut through it when you destroy the packing on a new toy.

Why use PVC? Let’s take a look a the advantages of PVC pipes as it’s used in household plumbing.

It’s Flexible

The types of PVC used in sewer applications is often called RPVC, with the “r” meaning “rigid.” So when we say that PVC pipes are rigid, they are indeed solid and won’t bend when you pick one up. But they are somewhat flexible when they are underground. This is important when soil is placed above a sewer line, allowing the pipe to bend a little in circumstances where concrete pipes might break. It’s also important that they’re slightly flexible as the ground settles and shifts over the years, or as tree roots try to push them out of the way.

It’s Lightweight

Another great advantage of PVC pipe is how light it is. This means it takes fewer workers to install PVC pipes. A single worker can carry a long length of PVC pipe, while it might take many workers and heavy machinery to get steel or concrete pipes into place. There’s also less fuel used to transport lightweight PVC pipes when compared to other types of materials.

It Lasts

The fact that plastic sticks around for thousands of years can be bad for the world. After all, the future doesn’t need billions of straws to deal with. But when it comes to your plumbing, you want it to last as long as possible. Metal pipes will rust, concrete pipes can give out under shifting soils, and the less said about the longevity of Orangeburg, the better! PVC won’t rot or disintegrate, and even the most ardent environmentalist should be pretty happy that the PVC pipes stand up to the rigors of sewage so that the tree in their front yard doesn’t have to be ripped up during sewer pipe replacement!

side-pvcIt’s Watertight At Joints

What’s one thing you don’t want in your plumbing system? Leaks. Push two pieces of PVC together and they form a tight bond. Put some plastic cement at the point of contact and they become more watertight than any other type of pipe.

It’s Smooth Inside

You want your water to enter you house and leave your house as quickly as possible. You also want everything else you send down to have a fast trip out of your life…toilet paper and human waste, for example. PVC is the smoothest of pipes, allowing everything to move freely on its way. If a clog can’t get started, it can’t grab other detritus and cause the need for drain cleaning.

It’s Non-Toxic

PVC is the most researched plastic in the world, and is found to be non-toxic. And considering that it’s mostly used for wastewater that you have no contact with, it’s really not an issue anyway.

Making Joints Is Easier

If you’ve ever done any pipe fitting with metal, you know how difficult even the most simple joint can be. If you’re not a master with solder, it can lead to big messes and even injuries. PVC joints are considerably less labor intensive; it’s easy to cut and easy to join. Under-sink pipes are easier to assemble (and disassemble, in the case of drain cleaning) than ever before.

While it would be great if the world would use less of some types of plastic, it’s pretty obvious that some plastics serve a purpose that’s hard to rival. PVC has been used for sewer purposes for more than 50 years here in Denver, and Garvin’s Sewer Service has been cleaning them for just as long. While the problems are few, every sewer system is going to have the occasional hiccup. When this happens, give Garvin’s a call!

 

 

What Is Backflow Prevention, and Why Is It So Important?

feature-image_backflow1200x628When you do something day after day, thinking about it all day long and talking about it with our coworkers, sometimes it’s hard to remember that people who aren’t in the industry might be completely baffled by some terminology and technology we use. Today we’re going to discuss a concept in plumbing that many people don’t even realize exists: backflow prevention.

What Is Backflow?

In a properly built system (such as your house), water only moves in one direction. It comes in through one set of pipes as freshwater and leaves via another set of pipes as wastewater. Backflow prevention devices ensure that no contaminated water can go into your freshwater pipes and contaminate your water supply.

Where Can They Be Located?

Backflow prevention devices are used throughout freshwater supply. Ones on houses can be smaller than a golf ball while those at the treatment plant will be huge and employ multiple check valves.

side-image_backflowWhy Is Backflow Prevention So Important?

We often forget that the water we’re getting is connected to the water systems of nearly every other person in the city. While you have your own pipes coming into your home, think of how it gets to you: your freshwater pipes connect to your neighborhood pipes, which connect to city pipes, which connect to the city fresh water treatment plant, which is getting its water from rivers and reservoirs across the front range.

So why is backflow prevention so important? If you didn’t have backflow prevention, contaminated water could be siphoned back into your home’s and neighborhood’s water supply. One of the most common concerns involve garden hoses. Without backflow prevention, fertilizer attachment bottles like this one that have a nozzle on one end and a hose attachment on the other could have their contents sucked into the freshwater system should there be a pressure change.

How Can Backflow Occur?

Backflow occurs due to one of two scenarios: back-siphonage and back-pressure. Back-siphonage occurs when high-pressure contaminated water is pulled into the system due to a lower pressure area. Back-pressure occurs when water is pushed into a system. Both are highly undesirable.

What Are Some Examples or Backflow Preventers?

Backflow prevention occurs throughout your house, but the ones that most people see are at the exterior of your home. Water spigots are required to have backflow prevention devices, so if you’ve ever wondered what that extra knob is on top of the spigot is when you’re hooking up your garden hose, now you know. Another place you’ll find them is in sprinkler systems. The pressure vacuum breaker prevents backflow, and unfortunately is the most likely part to freeze and break if you don’t blow your sprinklers out every fall.

If you’ve noticed that your water spigots or backflow preventers have cracked, make sure to call a local plumber in order to get them fixed. After all, under certain circumstances you could poison your home’s water supply, as well as that of your neighbors. For all of your plumbing needs, contact Garvin’s and we’ll get everything flowing in the right direction!