How to control cross connections in your home
Editor’s Note: The following is sidebar information from a longer article that appeared in Coloradoan.com detailing the dangers of plumbing cross connections.
According to the article:
. . .30 percent of water providers inspected by the state since 2009 were found to be in violation for something related to cross connections or backflow — most often issues related to documenting or managing risks. And 9 percent of the water systems were found to have potentially hazardous cross connections.
Among schools operating their own small water systems, inspectors found cross connection issues to be even more prevalent. Roughly 47 percent were found to be in some kind of violation of cross connection or backflow rules, while risky cross connections were found in 19 percent of the schools, according to a recent analysis by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
If left unchecked, these routine plumbing problems can make people sick. Last fall, 26 people at a medical facility in Colorado Springs fell ill after drinking water that tasted and smelled odd. –Hardly Waite.
A few simple steps can help protect your drinking water from contamination via backflow in your home. Hiring a backflow prevention technician or a licensed plumber is the best way to make sure your plumbing is safe.
• Make sure the lower end of each faucet is at least an inch above the top edge of the sink or tub.
• Lift the top of your toilet tank and look inside. Make sure the fill valve is at least an inch above the water. • The bowl refill tube also should be above the water line.
• Install a backflow preventer on your boiler. Otherwise, pressure from the boiler water — which is often treated with hazardous anti-corrosion chemicals — may be pushed into the potable water line.
• Install a vacuum breaker on each outside spigot. • Never leave a hose submerged in a bucket, hot tub or swimming pool. Contaminants from the yard can be sucked back into your drinking water. • If you’re using a Miracle-Gro nozzle or other add-on to your hose, unscrew it when you’re done using it. Without a backflow preventer in place, fertilizer or other chemicals can contaminate your water.
• Install a vacuum breaker well above the ground and above the level of all sprinkler heads in your yard to ensure that chemicals, fertilizer or pet waste aren’t pulled into your drinking water.