Backflow Testing Season is Upon Us – Do You Really Need It?

If you live in the state of Washington and have an existing sprinkler system and if you are like me then you are already anticipating the annual letter you get (I think ours comes from our local Clark County Public Utilities) reminding you to have your backflow prevention assembly checked by a registered backflow assembly tester.

backflow testing is needed for sprinkler assemblies

Source: Clark County PUD Water Irrigation Safety brochure

What is backflow?
You can read all about what backflow is from this site or download this Clark PUD Irrigation Safety brochure to learn all about backflow. The bottom line is backflow happens to an irrigation system such as lawn sprinklers when the water is siphoned back into the drinking water supply, taking with it all sorts of contaminants such as fertilizers and poisons.

Do I really need this tested?
I’m often against rampant bureaucracy and the types of hidden fees and taxes that crop up everywhere these days, but for this I can make an exception. First, it’s a Washington state law. Second, I’m not alone in thinking we have among the most beautiful areas of the country right outside our doors here and we can thank a healthy water supply for it. Contaminating our water supply is not something we want to do.

I have a sprinkler system but I don’t get a letter, do I need to get tested?
Since I’m a licensed contractor, everything I do or install needs to have permits and sprinkler systems are no exception. If you installed a sprinkler system or had one installed without a permit then the state does not know it exists. You can, of course, keep it this way and avoid the annual $40-$50 to have your backflow tested. You may never have a problem. But if you didn’t install a backflow prevention device or, if you do have an incident, you are risking contaminating your drinking water supply. I feel it’s worth it to pay the extra money for the inspection. If you feel the same click on one of the links below to find and hire a backflow tester. Your system will be on “the list,” but it’s a small price to pay for the quality of life we have here.

One type of device that does not need to be tested.

The atmospheric vacuum breaker (AVB) is one assembly that does not need to be tested annually, according to Washington state law. This type sticks above the ground and can be an eyesore on residential properties but one person commented on our Facebook fan page that you can hide it behind a bush.

Finding a certified backflow tester

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