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Old 10-17-2012, 03:47 AM   #1
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Default Backflow device defective?

My cousin, who has a vacation home in the mountains, asked me to go to his house and help him with a problem. His home is in a gated community and recently he was advised they would be checking everyone's backflow device to determine if it was in good working order. His was checked and found not to be working properly.

Worst part is now the codes have changed and since repairs are needed, it is necessary to conform to the new regulations, where the backflow device must be 18" above the soil line, opposed to his buried device as it is now. He was then provided a business card of one of this guy's friends, who will give him great pricing.

I personally believe this was a scam, plain and simple. is there any way for us laymen to check ourselves to see if this device is actually broken or not?

I've included some pics of his sunken system now, and a few pics of his neighbor's new raised device, which he will be required to duplicate. Please keep in mind that he has a copper pipe leading to the main, and a PVC line leading to his private well.

















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Old 10-17-2012, 11:39 AM   #2
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Havasu, where I am from you have to be certified to inspect backflows, we do not inspect them, but the inspection is opening the side ports in some sort of series while opening and closing the shutoff valves ,also inspecting the inners parts. If the backflow is not that old there is a chance it could be rebuilt. Maybe someone here is a certified inspector that can give you more info. The guy who inspect the backflow , did he have a certification and did he say what is wrong with it ?



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Old 10-17-2012, 02:46 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply. Since I wasn't there when this occurred, I can only go by what my cousin told me. He stated he was in fact certified, but since repairs are necessary, it would be necessary to move it out of the box and up 18" due to the new codes. The biggest concern is the fact that this home is in an area that gets plenty of snow, and his fence is torn down every year by the snow plows who really don't pay attention to where the curb is, and ripping out the backflow every year is going to get really expensive to repair.

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Old 10-18-2012, 05:18 PM   #4
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What about moving it on the other side of the fence or is that someone else property. We starting having cages put over some of our customers, due to thieves stealing them. Google backflow cage.

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Old 10-18-2012, 07:50 PM   #5
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Moving it is no problem since he owns all the property (5 acres) around the house. Hopefully, when Chris comes back, he can find time to go up there with me and find an ideal place to re position the backflow device. Problem with moving it towards the hill is that it is a fairly steep incline, so more digging would be necessary, along with a retaining wall to hold back the dirt.

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Old 10-20-2012, 02:41 AM   #6
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Agree that rebuilding the inner bits would be easier. Replace the unit as a whole and now you running into current code issues. The problem with RPZ backfow preventers in pits is the atmospheric port on the bottom is itself a source point for contamination when the pit is flooded.

Could not tell if anyone had touched the valve so not sure how they could test it without cleaning the side ports, where the test meter hoses connects.

Assuming your installation met code when it was installed, I would ask to see the test report on your backflow preventer.. Sort of sounds a bit of a scam to me..

If they come up with a certified report, then hire a plumber to replace the internal check valves. It may just need to be cleaned or there may be nothing wrong with it at all.. No report, then it was not tested and they just what to get you on code compliance.

I believe that repairing the valve in place does not require compliance with the current codes. Installing a new valve would....

Beni Bacon, PE, CIPE

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Old 10-20-2012, 03:14 PM   #7
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I don't have anything to do with back flow preventers, although I think they are a joke.

My biggest question is; what's going to keep it from freezing in the winter if they move it above ground? Here in Florida they are sticking up all over the place. I would like to have a nickel for everyone I have tripped over.

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Old 10-20-2012, 03:56 PM   #8
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I also am concerned about it freezing. The neighbor who moved it above ground did wrap fiber insulation and had a custom canvas wrap built for it as an attempt to keep the pipes warm, but only cold weather and time will tell.

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Old 10-20-2012, 05:11 PM   #9
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Unless he has a heat source, the entire thing will cool down over night and freeze. Heat tape has come a long way from what I've heard. They even have one that you can put inside the pipe. Moving from Michigan to Florida 30 years ago kind of took me out of that loop.

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Old 10-20-2012, 05:59 PM   #10
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Unfortunately, that device is about 200' away from the nearest electrical source, so that in itself would prove to be the biggest expense. So far, repairing where it is seems like the best option.



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