INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — During the past year I've done a few transactions where property owners did not have a backflow device installed between the boiler for their heating system and the potable water supply. This specific type of check valve is required to be inspected whenever a property is sold in Incline Village and Crystal Bay and is actually a designated part of the home inspection process on our local real estate contracts.
Now, many readers unfamiliar with the IVGID water quality standards might be saying to themselves what is "backflow" and why should that matter to me? Backflow is just what it sounds like: the water is flowing in the opposite direction from its normal flow. With the direction of flow reversed, due to a change in pressures, backflow can allow contaminants to enter our drinking water system through cross-connections.
There are some large condominium complexes in Incline Village such as McCloud and Third Creek where virtually all of the properties have hydronic heating systems. If your house or condo has this type of heat, then there should be a backflow device installed between the boiler and the water supply to prevent cross contamination. Each year your backflow device should be inspected and certified to make sure that it is functioning properly.
IVGID has a terrific staff that provides this service and they can be reached at 775-832-1224. The staff will come to your home and check to see that you have a properly installed backflow device and recommend solutions in the event everything is not copacetic.
Backflows due to cross-connections are serious plumbing problems. They can cause sickness and even death. However, they can be avoided by the use of proper protection devices. Each spigot at your home should have a hose-bibb vacuum breaker installed. This is a simple, inexpensive device which can be purchased at any plumbing or hardware store. Installation is as easy as attaching your garden hose to a spigot.
Without proper protection devices, something as useful as your garden hose, boiler, irrigation system or any other appliance connected to the potable water supply has the potential to poison your home's water supply. In fact, over half of the nation's cross-connections involve unprotected garden hoses. A cross-connection is a permanent or temporary piping arrangement which can allow your drinking water to be contaminated if a backflow condition occurs.
A potentially hazardous cross-connection occurs every time someone uses a garden hose sprayer to apply insecticides or herbicides to their lawn. Another cross-connection occurs when someone uses their garden hose to clear a stoppage in their sewer line.
Without a backflow prevention device between your hose and hose bibb (spigot or outside faucet), the contents of the hose and anything it is connected to can backflow into the piping system and contaminate your drinking water.
This hazardous situation sometimes can affect more than a single home. In 1977, an entire town in North Dakota had to be rationed drinking water from National Guard water trucks while the town's water distribution system was flushed and disinfected following contamination by DDT. Investigation determined that two residents spraying DDT had made direct cross-connections to their homes. A backflow condition had occurred, sucking the DDT through the home piping systems and out into the town's water distribution system.
I would like to thank Darel Barlow at IVGID for his assistance with providing information for this column and wish to credit the folks at www.nobackflow.com for granting permission to reprint excerpts from their web site.
— Don Kanare is a Realtor at RE/MAX Premier Properties. Read his blog and weekly stats on his website at www.InsideIncline.com.