Backflow Prevention Assembly Device (BFPAD) The Texas Commission on Enviromental Quality (TCEQ) requires every lawn sprinkler system installed in the State of Texas to be protected by a certified backflow prevention device. A backflow device, the most important component of the system, is designed to protect the quality and safety of the drinking water supply by preventing the sprinkler water from siphoning back into your house drinking water and the city's water supply.
There are different types of BFPD 's depending on local city ordinances. The BF device is normally located close to the city water meter or may be located close to the house or BF device and is the primary water cutoff for problems with the sprinkler system.
These backflow devices are required to be tested and certified by a licensed backflow tester ( Stan Beegle, owner of Got Sprinkler Repair? is a State Certified Tester ) periodically as determined by state and local ordinances. (A test is required upon new installation, any type of repair or replacement of the device,(some cities may require a permit.) the cities of Killeen, Copperas Cove and Temple have an annual test requirement, Harker Heights is every 5 years)
Double Check Valve Assembly Pressure Vacuum Breaker Reduced Pressure Assembly
Winterizing a Pressure Vacuum Breaker (PVB) Backflow Device
This will only work for BFD’s that have a separate shut off valve for the sprinkler system located somewhere between the water meter and the BF. "" If "" a PVC Ball Shutoff Valve has been installed with the sprinkler system , it usually will be located in the ground inside a green colored valve box, close to the water meter or the backflow device. Sometimes the grass has grown over it and may be difficult to locate.
Valve Box PVC Ball Shutoff Valve
Watts BF Febco BF
1. Turn off or close the PVC shut off valve (also known as an isolation valve) in the green valve box. (Ball valves are made in different colors, the most common are, red and white, blue and grey, black and white. By turning this off, it will prevent water from shooting out the top of the backflow device if it should freeze then thaw out.
2. Take a flat tip screwdriver and slowly, fully open A the 2 test cocks screws. Water may gush out of the test cocks and may drip for a few minutes. When water stops dripping leave both test cocks at a 45 degree angle. ( On Watts PVB's one test cock is on the side by the handle and the other one is under the handle. On Febco PVB's both test cocks are on the side.)
PLEASE NOTE, (STEP # 2 )THIS ONLY RELEASES SOME OF THE WATER PRESSURE ON THE TOP OF THE BACKFLOW DEVICE
IT DOES NOT DRAIN THE WATER OUT OF THE BACKFLOW !!!!!
THE BACKFLOW IS STILL SUBJECT TO FREEZING BECAUSE THE PVC PIPES ARE STILL FULL OF WATER TO INCLUDE THE LOWER PART OF THE BACKFLOW DEVICE
THE ONLY WAY TO GET ALL THE WATER OUT OF THE BACKFLOW IS NOTED BELOW IN
********Some BF's do have drain valve(s) (they will look like the PVC ball shut off valve,some maybe smaller in size),at the bottom, one on each pipe, closer to the ground on each side of the PVC pipe, if so open them and leave them at a 45 degree, these will drain all the water from the BF device and the PVC pipes thus preventing them from freezing and bursting**********.
3. Turn B the 2 handles on the BF (usually blue, green or yellow in color) to a 45 degree angle.
4. If water continues to run out steadily for more than 4 or 5 minutes the PVC ball valve may not be completely closing. In this case close the 2 test cocks and turn both handles in off position. Now open and close the PVC ball valve several times , sometimes debris will get in it and stop it from fully closing , Leave it in closed / off position and perform the above process again.
5. Be sure to turn the selector knob to the " OFF " position on the controller for the sprinkler system, it is not necessary to unplug it.
If the test cock continues to steadily run, most likely the PVC ball valve is defective and may need to be replaced.
In addition to the above, insulated BF bags are a big help.
****** If the sprinkler system does not have a separate shut off valve or drains at the base of the PVC pipes, Stan Beegle, owner of Got Sprinkler Repair? can install these items for you. Without it , about the only help is the BF Insulated Bag and hope we dont have a super cold winter, (in Jan of 2010 and Feb 2011, even some of the covered BF's froze and broke.) ******
It’s best to " NOT " turn off the 2 Handles on the BF in this situation, it’s less expensive to replace the plastic internal parts than the brass valves.
Turn off the brass valves only when the BF freezes, ruptures and water is gushing. (Turn the water meter off at the curb for a few minutes so you don’t get soaked trying to turn off the handles!!!!!!!!!!!! Don't forget to turn the water meter back on.
RP (Reduced Pressure Assembly) Backflow Devices
RP's are basically the same as the procedures above except there are 4 test cocks on the top instead of 2 on the sides. ( Again you can only do this if there is a seperate shut off ball valve in the ground. Turn the 4 test cocks and 2 handles at 45 degree's.
Helpful Hints for Winterizing
Any pipes or fittings above ground can and will freeze. These pipes and fittings must be protected. Just placing a plastic bag over will not work. The pipes must be insulated and wrapped and a wood or metal box placed over top of them from top of the BF device to the ground . Some insulated covers only the device, it is recommened to protect the entire assembly from top to the ground. They must be protected from the wind chill factor also.
Another option is to build a "" dog house"" with lots of insulationl lined on the inside of the walls, then set place it over top of the backflow.
One other option is to purchase an aluminum garbage container, drill a small hole in the base of it, insert a piece of wire in the hole , flip it upright and hang a trouble light (approved for outdoor use) from it. Use only a 60 watt bulb in the trouble light. Generally the light bulb will provide enough heat to keep the BF device from freezing. Be sure the bulb is not located close to the any plastic or PVC pipe/parts. One final note, BE CAREFUL!!!, electricity and water are not compatible!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Also if none of the above can be done, perhaps opening the 2 test cocks just slightly and letting the water to spray out will sometimes prevent from freezing because the water is in motiom constantly running. This could be done temporarily for extremely cold nights.
Turn On Procedures for the above PVB's for summer use of the sprinkler system.
1. Make sure the PVC shut off valve in the green box is in the OFF position.
2. Turn both the test cocks with a flat tip screwdriver to the OFF position. ( Febco BF devices, both test cock slots will be in the vertical position, pointing up and down. Watts BF devices, the lower one turn to the vertical positon, pointing up and down. The higher one, turn to a horizontal position, pointing sideways. If the BF has drain valves as stated in #2 above, turn them to the OFF position.
3. Turn both handles to the off position. The lower handle will be horizontal (sideways), the higher handle will be in the vertical position, pointing up and down.
4. Go to the PVC shutoff valve in the green box, slowly turn it on.
5. Go to the BF device, slowly turn the lower handle to the ON position ,(vertical pointing up and down , water will gush out until the handle is fully in the vertical position. Now turn the upper handle in the horizontal position.
6. The backflow is now turned on and ready for use.
Backflow Testing Charges
Backflow testing includes properly testing the Backflow Prevention Assembly in accordance with State and local requirements, prepration of all documentation and proper forms to include delivery of the original document to the appropriate local water supplier or city entity. Prices start at $50.00.