Backflow Testing FAQ: What You Need to Know About This Annual Service

A backflow prevention test is an extremely routine appointment for virtually any business. This is a required annual test of your backflow prevention device, and is designed to make sure that the community water supply remains safe and protected should a backflow event happen. If you have never been around for one of these tests, have questions about an upcoming appointment, or just want to know what to expect for your upcoming test, this blog has some valuable information you should know.

Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions regarding backflow prevention tests and how they might impact you or your property.

Do I need a backflow prevention test?

Single-family residences are almost universally excluded from the backflow prevention requirement and thus the prevention test requirement as well. If all you own is a normal single-family home, then the answer is probably “no.” However, all commercial and industrial properties as well as multi-family residential properties typically are required to have backflow prevention installed, and thus they need to be tested once a year.

For those who live in a multi-family residential complex but still own their home, your backflow prevention is typically handled by your property management company or homeowner’s association. Much the same way that common area landscaping and building insurance is handled separately, this process will probably be handled automatically and you more than likely won’t need to worry about scheduling anything. All that will happen is you may get a notice from your HOA that your building may have the water shut off for a period of time on the day the test is carried out.

Will a test shut off my water?

The short answer: probably. Most backflow prevention devices require your water to be shut off for a small period of time in order for our technician to carry out your test. The test essentially simulates a backflow pressure event, and that is only possible by cutting off the supply of water into your backflow prevention device. The process won’t take long—we generally say to allow for two to three hours without water, but in reality a smooth test with no problems may only require your water to be shut off for a short period of time.

How long does a test take?

There is no way of knowing exactly how long your test will take, but the most likely answer is a few hours. Tests need to be thorough and require a lot of documentation, so expect a plumber to be on-site for a while to take care of the test. Should your plumber find any problems, the test appointment may take even longer, but that’s on a case-by-case basis.

Furthermore, the type of backflow prevention device you have will also influence how long the test takes. Some devices are more complicated to check than others, and they will therefore take a bit longer to complete. However, if time is a strong concern, feel free to talk to your technician and let them know if you have any constraints. You can also call our office in advance and reschedule if you are concerned that the test may interfere with another important appointment. Just be sure to have the test completed before your deadline.

When can I have a test performed?

By law, a test must be performed during normal business hours. Because conditions in your plumbing can change drastically on weekends or after hours (when water consumption may be significantly lower), the test must be performed when your business is operating normally. That also means you may not perform a test while your business is temporarily closed.

What happens if I fail?

Generally, a failed test means you will need to repair, overhaul, or entirely replace your backflow prevention system. Massachusetts law requires all repairs or replacements to be completed within 14 days of the initial inspection. Once the repairs are complete, you will need to have the new device tested and submit the paperwork detailing the work done as well as the passed re-test to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

At Winters Home Services, we offer testing and re-testing along with repair, replacement, new installation, and any other service you might need for your backflow prevention device. What that means is if you fail, we can work with you to schedule a quick repair or replacement service so the problem is handled as soon as possible and you can get back to business as usual.

Schedule your backflow prevention test or service by calling the team at Winters Home Services at (617) 977-3101 today!