Running your business out of a building in Australia requires staying on top of various aspects including the health and safety of your employees and customers. A comfortable and functioning workplace improves the productivity and morale of your team. It also means any visitor to your brick-and-mortar establishment will be impressed by a space that’s professionally maintained.
Besides ensuring that the building looks good, you’re also responsible for proper management of water and energy supplies to the workplace. By law, you’re required to provide clean water. This includes doing annual backflow testing Melbourne and other cities’ plumbing companies perform on commercial properties.
But, what exactly is backflow testing and why do you need to do it every year? Read on to find out everything you need to know about this service.
Backflow: What is It?
In a normal water supply system, certain pressure is applied and maintained. This guarantees fresh, clean water coming through a tap or showerhead. This water is also safe for human consumption. However, if this pressure drops for any reason in the piping, contaminated water from the ground or another source may enter the supply system. This is known as backflow.
The Dangers of Backflow
Backflow can cause any of the following contaminants to pollute drinking water:
- Industrial waste
When backflow happens, the contaminated water supply system increases the risk of serious illnesses and diseases. Drinking contaminated water can lead to stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhoea. Legionnaire’s disease is another serious illness caused by contaminated water and is considered an “urgent notifiable condition” in Australia.
Should any of your employees or visitors to your building fall ill because of contaminated water on site, you could be faced with paying expensive medical bills. To safeguard the health of your employees and customers using your building, you need to prevent backflow from happening.
Backflow Prevention: What Needs to Be Done?
To prevent backflow causing havoc with your water supply system, you need to install devices specifically designed for this purpose. It’s essential to know that water filters aren’t sufficient for preventing serious contamination and that backflow valves are the only solution.
Backflow prevention devices are designed to stop water flowing, in an opposite direction, from polluted sources into drinking water. These devices come in three hazard ratings:
An accredited plumber will advise which device rating needs to be installed for your water supply system based on the conditions and associated risks. A high rating is indicated for those conditions which could result in death, while a medium rating is for water supply systems that potentially endanger health. A low rating device is installed in water supply systems with minimal hazardous conditions.
Backflow prevention devices need to be installed and tested annually by licensed plumbers to ensure they’re in good working order. In Australia, this is a legal requirement that needs to be met by all business owners of commercial properties. Testable backflow prevention devices need to comply with the national plumbing standard: AZ/NZS 3500.1.
Backflow Testing: What is It?
Backflow testing needs to be done every 12 months. By law, this testing needs to be carried out by a licensed plumbing technician. The testing procedure includes checking that all backflow prevention devices are working optimally. This is done by a mechanical plumber who’ll check for any problems by opening and closing valves in the water supply system.
Part of the testing requirement includes writing up a backflow prevention device inspection and maintenance report. Again, this can only be done by an accredited plumber who’ll also submit it to the local water board. If businesses don’t comply with these legal requirements, they could be exposing themselves to serious liabilities.
What Else You Need to Know About Backflow
If you take up a discussion with a plumbing company about backflow testing and prevention devices, you may hear some words that sound confusing! Here’s some terminology to be aware of so you’re not left in the dark when talking about backflow issues on your property.
- Back pressure: When a plumber talks about back pressure they’re referring to an increase in pressure downstream which causes the reversal of the normal directional flow of water in the supply system.
- Back siphonage: This is when there’s a drop in water supply pressure which causes negative pressure resulting in backflow.
- Cross connection: This refers to an actual or potential connection that could take place between an installed water supply system and contaminated or polluted sources.
A professional plumbing company will send an accredited plumber to inspect your business property. In doing so, you can rest assured you’re getting the best advice on testing, maintenance, and regular reporting to keep you on the right side of the law.
The health and safety of your employees and visitors to your commercial property lies in your hands. Maintaining the plumbing system in your building is a number one priority and it includes annual backflow testing. By calling on a professional plumbing company to assist you, you can have peace of mind the water supply to your building is clean and safe for human consumption at all times.