Friday, April 6, 2012

I installed a testable RP valve recently and now they tell me that the brass has turned white. It's in a chemical plant. Do you know why?

Yes - It happens especially quick when around chemicals. Brass is effected by the surrounding air and often turns white. Similar to how copper turns green. The environment around the backflow preventer is what's causing your issue. Sometimes it takes years, sometimes it happens quickly, sometimes it doesn't happen at all. This issue should not effect the operation of your assembly.

We are in the process of updating our local Plumbing Code. We are considering backflow prevention on residential services...

To answer your question directly, we are not aware of any Illinois communities that currently require containment for residential services though there are more and more requiring them around the country. The IEPA does require that a survey be performed every other year for every water customer and that cross connections be eliminated or protected with the proper backflow device or assembly. All communities should have backflow programs that encompass both commercial and residential customers. Whether a community has a “backflow program” or not, it is still responsible to protect the potable water supply from backflows.

Most residential backflow preventers are either on lawn irrigation or fire system sprinklers. A survey can help locate these existing assemblies for you as well as possibly identify locations where backflow protection should be installed.

Along with regulations requiring testable assemblies on fire and lawn irrigation systems, some water purveyors are now supplying and installing a dual check valve at the meter on all residential connections. While not a requirement by any current Illinois or federal regulation, some communities may determine that the cost of containment of each residential service is an effective means to minimize the risks of backflows from the most common source of backflows – the home. Meter manufacturers actually offer meters with check valves built-in. When a meter is swapped out, you can replace and/or install backflow protection at the meter at the same time.

If you do decide to require containment at each service, be sure that steps are taken to prevent damage due to thermal expansion, as you will have created a closed system.

Do I need a backflow device installed on a water supply line that only fills the pool? I have a valve on it and the pipe terminates above the pool.

The answer is not always a simple yes or no. In your particular circumstance, it appears as though you have a sufficient air gap from preventing any backflow. Regardless of whether or not a ball valve is on your water supply and is generally turned off, a valve is not a backflow preventer. Please contact your city inspector to verify your conditions. The city should have a plumbing inspector who is a licensed plumber. Have them make the final judgement call for you. Thank you for contacting us!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


There is not a definitive answer in IEPA Title 35 or in the IDPH Plumbing Code. Federal requirements say a minimum of 13 years of records must be kept by a water purveyor. We recommend however that records be kept indefinately with or on the backflow preventer itself as well as in the water purveyor's offices.