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Backflow Prevention

The Zanesville-Muskingum County Health Department Plumbing Division tracks backflow devices. The program works to identify all backflow devices within our jurisdiction and to make sure they are tested on an annual basis.

What is backflow?

Backflow is the unintentional reversal of the normal direction of flow in a drinking water system that may result in pollution or contamination of the system by a liquid, gas, solid, or mixture.

Why should I be concerned about backflow?

When backflow occurs, the water drawn back into your main water supply may be contaminated. This contaminated water remains in water lines until it is drained from another fixture in your home. A serious health hazard could result when this contaminated water is used for drinking, cooking, or bathing.

What is back siphonage backflow?

Backsiphonage backflow is the reversal of the normal flow direction in the piping due to a drop in supply pressure, a vacuum, or a negative pressure in the supply piping.

How can I prevent backflow or back siphonage?

Eliminate cross-connections to the drinking water supply or install a backflow device and have it tested annually. A backflow device protects drinking water from coming into contact with a questionable contaminant. When installed correctly and operating properly, it will prevent contaminants from entering the drinking water supply, even when low or negative pressure situations occur.

Any device that is mechanical is apt to fail and must be regularly tested. Backflow devices are required to be tested annually.

2019 Certified Backflow Testers are listed below under Resources. Always remember to get bids from at least three contractors before you pay someone to test your backflow device.

Commercial Backflow

Inspectors survey commercial buildings (factories, hospitals, and schools) for possible cross-connections. This could potentially cause contamination of the drinking water supply. If problems are identified, our plumbing inspectors work with building owners to eliminate cross-connections or ensure the proper installation of a backflow prevention device.

Lawn Irrigation

When installing and testing an A.S.S.E (American Society of Sanitary Engineers) 1013 backflow device on your lawn irrigation system you need to consider that this backflow device is capable of discharging or “dumping” a large quantity of water through the relief port, which may cause damage to your home. This “Dumping” may occur if a spring-loaded check becomes fouled by debris or if a backflow event occurs.

We recommend that you locate this backflow device outside where no damage can occur. It will need to be “winterized” and not subjected to freezing temperatures. If your device is located inside your home, we recommend you contact your plumber to properly pipe the discharge to a floor drain or laundry sink capable of handling this discharge or have the device located outside to a place of safety where “dumping” of this device will not cause harm.

Lawn Irrigation Systems & Backflow Testing

Lawn irrigation systems should be tested annually to ensure they are functioning properly. For example, if a backflow device attached to a lawn irrigation system malfunctions, animal excrement, pesticides, fertilizers, and other harmful substances can e back-siphoned into a water supply. This contaminated water remains in water lines until drained from another source or fixture in the home. A serious health hazard can result when contaminated water is used for drinking, cooking, or bathing.

The Ohio Basic Plumbing Code requires all testable lawn irrigation backflow prevention devices to be tested yearly, If a lawn irrigation system waters your yard through the summer months, contact a plumber who is a certified backflow tester for your yearly check.

Backflow Permits & Testing

When a backflow device is installed by a licensed plumber, a permit must be obtained. Every year thereafter, the device must be tested by a certified backflow tester. When it is time to have your backflow device tested each year, you will receive a reminder letter from the Health Department.

The Backflow Test Sheet must be completed by the tester and filed in our office. There is a $25 annual fee.

Why do I have to pay a $25 fee each time a device is installed or tested?

The $25 fee covers the cost for the Health Department to track all backflow devices for Muskingum and Coshocton Counties in a computer database and on hard copy files for water purveyors and the EPA. The cost also covers the expense of mailing yearly reminder letters to our customers to have their devices tested, and we often have to send more than one letter to get a response.

A brand new device install has no fee associated with it, but a test form should still be submitted to our office. Annual tests for your device are due to us each year (one year from the install date) along with the $25 fee.

PLEASE REMEMBER: Many licensed backflow installers will hold your test form and will NOT submit it to the Health Department with the $25 fee until YOU have paid them for their services. Please ensure that you have compensated your tester for the work they have performed to avoid additional inquiries from our office regarding the late submission of your test report. It is also possible for water service interruptions our when your backflow device has not been tested. Notices from our office are sent to your water purveyor to inform them of the failure to test.

Backflow Scenarios & Prevention Tips

SCENARIO: Soapy water or other cleaning compounds are back siphoned into your water supply via a faucet or hose submerged in a bucket or laundry basin.
PREVENTION TIP: Install an American Society of Sanitary Express (ASSE) 1011-approved vacuum breaker that permits manual draining for freezing conditions.

SCENARIO: Fertilizers/pesticides are back siphoned into your water supply via a garden hose attached to a fertilizer/pesticide sprayer.
PREVENTION TIP: Install an ASSE 1011 approve vacuum breaker that permits manual drainage for freezing conditions on outside spigots.

SCENARIO: Toilet tank cleaner/dye (blue color) is back siphoned into your water supply via a refill valve or ballcock without antisiphonage protection.
PREVENTION TIP: Use only “anti-siphonage” or “code approved” ballcock repair/replacement kit.

SCENARIO: Bacteria/chemicals/additives present in a boiler system are back-siphoned into the water supply.
PREVENTION TIP: Contact your plumber. You may need to have an ASSE 1013 or 1012 backflow device installed. Use only food-grade or pharmacologic chemicals or additives.

SCENARIO: Chemicals/pesticides/animal feces are drawn into your supply from a lawn irrigation system.
PREVENTION TIP: Contact your irrigation contractor/plumber. Lawn irrigation systems require s a testable backflow device. These devices should be tested annually to ensure reliability.

 

Resources

Backflow Online Search Key

2022 Certified Backflow Testers

Backflow Test Report: For new installation only.

City of Zanesville Commercial Backflow: Commercial water customers must have a backflow prevention device installed and tested.

 

Contact

Email Robert Lewis, Lead Certified Plumbing Inspector, or call 740-454-9741 extension 229.
Email Dave Baker, Certified Plumbing Inspector, or call 740-454-9741 extension 228.

Quick Resources

Public Health nuisance or hazard complaint form:

Nuisance Complaint Form

Online Inspection Reports:

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Program Fees:

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