The water in your drains and faucets should run in one direction. However, backflow issues can happen and aren't always easy to find and fix. Don't ignore backflow issues, as they can affect your health. Here is more information about backflow and how a plumber can help.
What Is Backflow?
Backflow in plumbing refers to situations where the water flows backward through the system. For example, your drains should flow out of the house into the sewer system. Your freshwater pipes should flow from your municipal water supply or well into your home. However, when you have a backflow problem, sewage can enter the freshwater supply, and wastewater doesn't flow outward.
Signs you might have a backflow problem include:
- Discolored water coming out of your faucets
- Dripping faucets
- Slow (or no) drainage
- A sulfur smell from the faucets
- Uneven water flow (some areas drain better than others)
There are two types of backflow problems: Back pressure issues and back siphonage problems. Both involve changes in pressure along the line. Back pressure issues usually involve unusually high pressures. Back siphonage problems involve a sudden drop in pressure in the system.
Why Is Backflow Bad?
Backflow failure can potentially cause health issues, especially with cross-connected contamination. Your freshwater supply could have sewage or other contaminants in it. You could also be contaminating the local water supply. Leaks from backflow problems can also increase mold and potentially harm your plumbing system.
What Causes Backflow Problems?
Most homes have some sort of backflow prevention device. Often, backflow problems happen when these devices break down or are overwhelmed. If something causes a drop in pressure, like a broken pipe or seal, you may have a siphonage issue. A clog in the system can cause pressure issues. A plumber can help locate and repair the cause of your backflow problem.
The only areas a plumber may not be able to help you is if the problem is external. For example, areal flooding and water main breaks can also cause backflow problems. In those cases, you may have to wait until the resolution of those problems for the bad backflow to go away. Still, have a plumber check out your plumbing after these events to ensure the proper restoration of your home's backflow.
A professional plumber can check your plumbing's backflow as part of a routine plumbing inspection. They can also repair most plumbing issues that can lead to backflow problems. Backflow issues can be a health hazard and a plumbing emergency. Call a plumbing service any time you notice unusual plumbing issues that could indicate a backflow problem.