What Does Backflow Prevention Mean for Your Condo Community? The Risks to Your Residents and How to Avoid Them
-+*When you use your faucet or shower, or turn on an appliance that is connected to your plumbing system, your
When you use your faucet or shower, or turn on an appliance that is connected to your plumbing system, your expectation is that the water flowing into your home will be clean. In most instances, you would be right: the water provided by the City of Toronto comes from its very own water supply system, and is potable, meaning safe to handle and to consume.
However, there are times when the water you are accessing could become contaminated, and it could be happening without you even realizing it. This is a result of a lack of backflow prevention, and it is a dangerous condition for your community to live with.
What is Backflow?
Backflow is fairly simple to understand: it is a reversal of proper water flow, causing used, dirty, contaminated, or otherwise undesirable water to move in the opposite direction of where it should go.
This reversed flow has the potential to cause contaminated water to mingle with water that is supposed to be potable, meaning you could be exposed to harmful materials when you use your water.
What Causes Backflow?
There are a number of potential causes for backflow, making preventing backflow in Toronto a top priority for residents and commercial entities.
- Water main breaks are a top cause of backflow. The resulting sudden loss of water pressure causes undesirable materials to be drawn into your pipes. Toronto experiences an average of 1100 water main breaks per year.In 2014, water main breaks peaked at nearly 1400 total. Many of these occur during the winter, when changing temperatures cause expansion of soil that can put additional pressure on the watermain.
- Another cause is back pressure, which happens when the water pressure in a private system is greater than the pressure of the public water system.
- Maintaining the water system in order to prevent backflow is a monumental task: the Toronto water system is made up of enough pipe to reach from Toronto to Glasgow in Scotland; the infrastructure itself is worth $28 billion.
How the City of Toronto is Addressing Backflow Issues
With watermain breaks being increasingly common as the city’s infrastructure starts to age, there is a growing concern with backflow prevention in Toronto.
On January 1, 2008, Municipal Code Chapter 851 went into effect, which is a bylaw concerning the water supply. Per this bylaw, certain facilities are required to install backflow devices in order to reduce the risk of contaminating the City’s water supply.
The bylaw required different manufacturing, commercial, and industrial facilities to install backflow devices by certain deadlines ranging from December of 2008 to December of 2009. It also applies to residential buildings of more than five units, including high rise condos, where there is definitely a need to address backflow due to the increased risk of contaminating the water supply.
Responsibility for Backflow Prevention
If you operate or manage any type of building, structure, or property as described above – i.e. multi-unit residences, and industrial, commercial, or manufacturing facilities – then it is your responsibility to ensure that you have taken adequate measures to prevent backflow at each water service connection on the property.
The bylaws specifically state that it is the property owner who bears the responsibility for ensuring such measures are taken.
What You Can Do To Avoid Contaminated Water
The key way to prevent backflow is to do what is known as premises isolation. This means that the private water system within a particular property, such as an individual building or structure, is isolated from the City water supply. There are devices that allow for such isolation, and they should be installed by a highly qualified technician as detailed in the Water Supply Bylaw.
This is where CPL Tech can help. We can conduct a thorough evaluation of your system to determine what risks you have for potential backflow, and what measures you can take to prevent it in your building. Have you had your system evaluated? Contact Canada Pipelining Technology directly to schedule an evaluation and receive a full assessment.
CPL Tech is able to test backflow, and to see if your system is currently operating as it should. We offer only licensed plumbers and testers who know exactly what to do and how to check your systems. If there are any deficiencies, we can provide you with a full report, as well as recommendations for rectifying them.
Our services ensure that you, your family, your business, and your community are protected.
What to do if you Need Backflow Prevention
If your structure or property ends up needing a backflow device in Toronto, then you have some potential options in Toronto.
Reduced Pressure Principle Assembly (RP). This simple but effective device uses check valves, which open when water flows in the right direction. However, it is loaded with a spring, which causes the valves to close when water tries to flow in the opposite direction.
Double Check Valve Assembly. Appropriate for non-health hazards, this type of assembly has two spring-loaded check valves which act independently, and also has a shutoff valve at each end.
CPL Tech can recommend which assembly is most appropriate for your needs, and can test existing assemblies to ensure they are operating properly. It is essential that proper backflow prevention be observed in Toronto, as residents consume almost 1 billion liters of water per day.
Keeping the water system in good condition is important not just for health reasons, but for cost reasons as well, to avoid unnecessary maintenance problems that can consume resources. In 2014, Toronto saw water costs go up by 9%. By ensuring proper backflow protocols are observed, businesses and condo owners can do their part to keep water systems in good shape, keeping this vital resource affordable to all.
If you need backflow prevention services, contact CPL Tech today. We can evaluate your system and determine which solutions will work best for you.Read More