Why do I need to have my sprinkler system backflow prevention device tested? You may have recently received a notice and/or device test form from your city, township, or cross connection control management service provider stating that you are required to have a backflow test performed on your cross connection prevention device. The water that is used by your irrigation system is supplied by a public drinking source, which is the same water that you drink, bathe, and cook with. Fertilizers, pesticides, and/or other contaminants can collect in the water that ‘pools’ around your sprinkler heads. This can create a potential for the contaminants to be back-siphoned through the sprinkler irrigation system and into the water source. A properly functioning backflow prevention device helps protect your water. Other residential cross connection applications include but are not limited to water-powered backup sump pumps, pool fill lines, and boilers.
Do I need to have the water to my sprinkler system turned on to have the backflow test performed? Yes, there must be water pressure in the backflow preventer device to perform the backflow test. Therefore, the water to your sprinkler system must be turned on/energized. Your sprinklers do not need to be running in the lawn at the time of the test – just the water turned on to the sprinkler system.
IMPORTANT: Some homeowners mistakenly believe that because the water to their outside faucet(s) is turned on, that the water to their sprinkler system is also turned on. This is almost never true. Most homes are plumbed with the outside faucet(s) and sprinkler system on separate water lines. Please ensure that the water to your sprinkler system is on before we come to your home.
If I don’t turn on my sprinklers for the season, do I still need to have the backflow test performed? Yes, in accordance with the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act, you are required by State law to have your backflow prevention device tested – regardless of whether you are currently using your sprinkler system.
Do I need to have the test performed if I no longer use my sprinkler system? As long as the backflow preventer device is attached, you are required to have the backflow test performed. However, if you are no longer using your sprinkler system, you can have your backflow preventer device disconnected (cut and capped). After the device is cut and capped, we will submit the required paperwork to your city, township, or cross connection control management service provider. Shortly after, your city, township, or cross connection control management service provider will perform a visual inspection at your home to ensure the device has been properly removed. With the backflow preventer device properly removed and water line(s) capped, you will no longer be required to have the backflow test performed. We can cut and cap your backflow preventer device for $75.
IMPORTANT: You can no longer use your sprinkler system once the backflow preventer device has been removed. If you reinstall another backflow preventer device in the future, you will again be required to have the device regularly tested.
I’m not turning my sprinkler on for the season, but I don’t want to remove my backflow preventer device. Can I have the backflow test performed without having to winterize my sprinkler system? There must be water pressure in the backflow preventer device to perform a backflow test. However, it is not necessary that water flow into the lines in the lawn to perform a backflow test. This is helpful if you don’t want to winterize your entire lawn sprinkler system. You can accomplish this by doing the following: 1) Turn the 1st shutoff valve in the open position (this is the valve typically located below the backflow preventer device), and turn the 2nd shutoff valve in the closed position (this is the valve located after the backflow preventer device and before the pipe leads into the ground); 2) Close the test ports; and 3) Close the drain valve (if present). [Shutoff valve open position: handle is parallel with the pipe. Shutoff valve closed position: handle is perpendicular to the pipe.] After the shutoff valves have been correctly positioned and the test ports and drain valve closed, water to the sprinkler system can be turned on without energizing/filling the lines in the lawn (assuming shutoff valves are functioning properly).
IMPORTANT: These instructions are intended as a guide for water customers who do not want to energize their lawn sprinkler lines. To prevent damage from freezing temperatures after the test has been performed, water to the sprinklers must be turned off; all valves and test ports opened; and water drained from the backflow assembly. All backflow assembly maintenance (prior to and after testing) is the sole responsibility of the homeowner. Water Works Solutions, LLC is not responsible for the correct set-up of the backflow preventer assembly before testing or draining of water from the assembly after testing.
What if my test fails? If a test fails and everything looks fine with the backflow device (no obvious leaks or cracks), we clean the device and re-test at no charge. If we find the failure is due to broken or missing parts, we inform the water customer of the necessary repair and additional charge (if any) for parts and labor before proceeding. We may have to return later to complete the repair if the water customer is not available or if we do not have the necessary parts at that time.
What is your scheduling and testing process for residential lawn sprinkler systems?
- Homeowners do not need to be home to have the backflow test performed. However, water to the sprinkler system must be turned on to perform the test (sprinklers don’t need to be running in the lawn, just the water turned on to the system so there is water pressure at the device).
- Leave 2 copies of the form you received from your your city, township, or cross connection control management service provider (the original and a copy) along with a check made payable to Water Works Solutions for $60 in a zip-top bag under the mat at your front door the morning of or night before your test date. The time it takes to perform each test can vary greatly, so we are not able to provide specific test times.
- We will leave a completed test form for your records and will submit the other form to the your city, township, or cross connection control management service provider.
- The fastest way to schedule your backflow test during our peak season (May – August) is to complete our Contact Form. Please include your name, address, phone number, and confirmation the water is/will be on to your sprinkler system. You will receive an e-mail within 24 hours confirming your test date. You may also call us to schedule your test, but again, during our peak season, completing our contact form is the most efficient way to schedule.
- You will also receive a reminder call the day before your test.
Who can test my backflow prevention device? Per the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), effective January 1, 2018, backflow assembly testing results on public water systems will only be valid if performed by a tester certified in accordance to ASSE Standard 5110 and listed as such at www.asse-plumbing.org. Additionally, repairs of any backflow preventers must be completed by a licensed plumber. A nationwide list of certified testers is available at www.asse-plumbing.org or at HydroCorp. Or visit the Oakland County Water Resource Commissioner’s (WRC) website for an abbreviated list of State Certified Backflow Testers that are registered with the WRC.