Backflow Testing 101 for Aussie Industrial Business

If you own or operate an industrial business in Australia, you may be wondering why backflow testing is a legal requirement and what are the main advantages of proactive plumbing maintenance. Here, we will explain the basics of backflow prevention, the relevant legislation and standards, and the benefits of regular testing and servicing of your backflow devices.

Backflow is the unintended flow of water from any domestic, industrial or institutional piping system into a drinking water supply system. It can be caused by a loss of pressure in the drinking water supply main or by the flow from a pressurised system through an unprotected cross connection. Backflow can pose a serious health risk as it can contaminate the drinking water with harmful substances such as chemicals, fertilisers, pesticides, bacteria, viruses and parasites.

Backflow prevention devices are valves or assemblies that are installed in plumbing systems to prevent backflow from occurring. They are designed to either allow water to flow in one direction only or to close automatically when a pressure differential is detected. There are different types of backflow prevention devices depending on the level of risk for cross-contamination. Some examples are:

– Reduced pressure zone device (RPZD): This device consists of two independent check valves and a pressure relief valve that opens when the pressure between the two check valves drops below a preset value. This device provides the highest level of protection against backflow as it prevents both backpressure and back siphonage.

– Double check valve assembly (DCVA): This device consists of two independent check valves that allow water to flow in one direction only. This device provides medium level protection against backpressure but not against back siphonage.

– Pressure-type vacuum breaker (PVB): This device consists of a spring-loaded check valve and an air inlet valve that opens when the pressure in the downstream side drops below atmospheric pressure. This device provides medium level protection against back siphonage but not against backpressure.

– Hose connection vacuum breaker (HCVB): This device is a simple check valve that attaches to a hose bib or faucet and prevents back siphonage from hoses or other attachments. This device provides low level protection against back siphonage only.

In Australia, the legal requirements for backflow testing are based on the Australian/New Zealand Standard 3500.1 Plumbing and Drainage – Water Services and the Plumbing Code of Australia. According to these documents, testable backflow prevention devices must be commissioned and tested after installation and before service. In addition, they must be maintained and tested for operational function at intervals not exceeding 12 months. Specific backflow prevention devices, such as RPZDs, DCVAs, PVBs, registered break tanks, and registered air gaps, can only be used with a maintenance program for device registration and test certification.

The responsibility for ensuring compliance with these requirements lies with the property owner or occupier who has testable backflow prevention devices installed on their premises. The property owner or occupier must engage a licensed plumber with backflow prevention accreditation issued by a registered training organisation (backflow plumber) to inspect, commission and test their devices annually. The test reports must then be sent to the relevant authorities as part of the compliance requirements.

Apart from complying with the legal requirements, there are many advantages of proactive plumbing maintenance for industrial businesses. Some of these are:

– Protecting public health and safety: By preventing backflow from contaminating the drinking water supply, you are protecting your customers, employees and the general public from potential health hazards.

– Protecting your reputation and brand: By avoiding backflow incidents that could damage your reputation and brand image, you are maintaining your trustworthiness and credibility in the market.

– Protecting your assets and equipment: By preventing corrosion, leaks and blockages caused by backflow, you are extending the lifespan and performance of your plumbing systems, fixtures and appliances.

– Saving money and time: By avoiding costly repairs, fines and lawsuits caused by backflow incidents, you are saving money and time that could be better spent on your core business activities.

Backflow Testing Brisbane experts provide backflow testing services for industrial businesses. Qualified, experienced and licensed backflow plumbers can assess your property’s risk level, install, repair and service your backflow prevention devices, conduct annual testing and certification, and submit your test reports to the authorities on your behalf.

If you want to ensure that your industrial business is compliant with the backflow testing requirements and enjoy the benefits of proactive plumbing maintenance, contact a specialist industrial plumber for the best results.

Paul Trance

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