Sprinkler System Backflow Prevention Devices
Sprinkler system backflow prevention devices are safety mechanisms to prevent contaminants from entering water supplies. These devices connect to your sprinkler system and are an important safety feature. They are required by law in many areas, but even if not required, they are still a good idea. The on and off valves included in sprinkler systems are not enough to prevent backflow. These valves can break or develop leaks, and if this happens to a sprinkler system without a backflow preventer device, all the chemicals from the irrigation water (fertilizers, pesticides, animal wastes, etc.) will flow back into the water supply. The chemicals in irrigation systems are potentially toxic and can be hazardous or even deadly. Our Sprinkler School is a great source for additional information on backflow prevention and devices, how they protect our water supply, and choosing a backflow device.
Backflow Prevention Devices
Backflow prevention devices are offered in four different types here at Sprinkler Warehouse: Double Check Valve Assemblies, Pressure Vacuum Breaker assemblies, Reduced Pressure Zone Assemblies, and Atmospheric Vacuum Breakers. Each type is suited to different needs, from small home lawn irrigation systems to large commercial property irrigation.
Double Check Valve Assemblies:
Double check valve assemblies (DCVA) are the most commonly approved type of device for inline underground sprinkler systems, and a good choice for interior or underground installations. These backflow preventers are less susceptible to frost damage because they are usually installed below ground or in a basement. This makes sprinkler system winterization much simpler. Double check assemblies are also less expensive than reduced pressure zone assemblies. However, double check valve assemblies are not approved as a backflow prevention device for water systems containing hazardous substances. There is some debate as to whether irrigation systems contain ‘hazardous’ substances (chemicals or toxins which pose a serious health risk), or water which is merely ‘objectionable’ (looks, tastes, or smells bad, but doesn’t pose a health risk). Double check assemblies are generally considered safe for sprinkler systems which do not have chemicals injected into the water.
Pressure Vacuum Breaker Assemblies:
Pressure vacuum breaker assemblies (PVBA) are the most commonly used and least expensive type of whole-system backflow prevention valve. The benefits of this type of sprinkler backflow preventer valve are its low cost and simplicity. These assemblies are easy to install, maintain, and repair. Some models of pressure vacuum breaker assemblies include built-in freeze protection valves; however, pressure vacuum breakers only protect the assembly itself, not the water lines. These breakers will also occasionally eject some water, so it is important to purchase a spill-resistant model for indoor installation, or for any area where water spillage would create a nuisance. Air gap drains are also required when installing indoors.
Reduced Pressure Zone Assemblies:
Reduced pressure zone assemblies (RPZ), also sometimes called reduced pressure principle assemblies, are the industry standard for any type of commercial property, including apartment buildings and condominiums, because they provide the highest level of protection against pollutants and toxins. Reduced pressure zone assemblies are the most expensive and complicated backflow valves to install; however, when installed correctly, these are the safest and most reliable backflow valves available. They are also usable for any type of plumbing or water system which requires a backflow device, not just irrigation systems.
Atmospheric Vacuum Breakers
Atmospheric vacuum breakers (AVB) are the simplest design of backflow preventer. If you have less than six control valves, they are also the least expensive option. These devices are not designed as a whole-system backflow prevention valve; one must be installed at every control valve.
In addition to backflow prevention valves, Sprinkler Warehouse also carries a wide assortment of backflow prevention accessories. These accessories include backflow prevention system attachments, backflow device enclosures, test kits, and repair parts.
Backflow Prevention System Attachments
Backflow prevention system attachments include Y-type strainers and Aqualine hose-end vacuum breakers. Y-type strainers are filters which protect backflow devices by filtering sediment from the system. Hose-end vacuum breakers attach to the end of your garden hose to prevent water which has passed through it from re-entering the system.
Backflow Prevention Device Enclosures
Backflow prevention device enclosures provide everything from theft-prevention to heated insulation. If you are concerned about theft of your backflow device (which can be an issue, especially during unexpected cold snaps when everyone’s backflow devices break and supplies are limited), or you want to winterize your backflow device with a heated insulation enclosure, or you simply want something more pleasing to the eye than a pipe sticking out of the ground, our backflow device enclosures are the thing for you.
Backflow Prevention Test Kits and Repair Parts
Backflow prevention test kits and repair parts are a must for the avid do-it-yourselfer. Our backflow test kits are compatible with all reduced pressure principle, double check valve, spill resistant, and pressure vacuum breaker type backflow preventers. All our kits are compact and portable, and come with the necessary gauges, hoses, and adapter fittings. Sprinkler Warehouse also supplies backflow prevention repair parts compatible with double check assemblies, pressure vacuum breakers, and reduced pressure assemblies, from a variety of manufacturers.