Protect Your Drinking Water:
Every Bibb and Hydrant Needs a Vacuum Breaker
Over the years, the courts in the United States have ruled that water delivered to homes by utility companies is considered to be a product, not a service. As a product, the water must meet various implied warranties, including that it be drinkable or fit for human consumption. As a consequence, water utility companies are heavily regulated and have optimized their operations to deliver good quality drinking water on a consistent basis. In fact, water delivered
by utility companies is sometimes cleaner than bottled water purchased at stores.
Despite the tight regulations and sophisticated systems used by water utility companies, cases of unclean water flowing out of water faucets inside homes continue to be prevalent across the country. The water leaving the water utility companies is clean; however, the water flowing out of a faucet inside a home is unclean. The source of the problem is introduced in between, while water is flowing through the vast series of pipes. The water is contaminated by pesticides, herbicides, mud, rust, and other potent substances that are injected into the pipes by backflow or backsiphonage.
Backflow is a Primary Source of Drinking Water Contamination
Although water mostly flows out of a faucet, periodically water reverses its flow direction forcing water that has already left the faucet to be siphoned back inside the faucet. This reversal of direction is called backflow. The most common type of backflow is backsiphonage. Backsiphonage is caused by a sudden drop in water pressure within the water pipes. The drop in water pressure can be caused by a sudden spike in use of water within a home, a broken water main, a fire nearby where the Fire Department is using large quantities of water, or simply
by opening a fire hydrant nearby to test it. Backsiphonage is instantaneous and short lived. Since water lines for the outside of a house are directly connected to the water lines inside the house, anything around a garden hose connected to a bibb or hydrant can get sucked into the water pipes to contaminate the drinking water.
Hence, a potential for contamination of the drinking water occurs when:
- Someone uses their garden hose sprayer to apply insecticides or herbicides to their lawn,
- Someone uses a garden hose to clear blocked toilets or sewer lines,
- Garden hose is submerged in buckets, pools, tubs, sinks, ponds, etc.,
- Drain pipe from water softener is submerged in the sewer.
Vacuum Breakers or Anti-Siphoning Devices Protect Your Drinking Water
Vacuum breakers are attached to hose bibbs and hydrants for the purpose of preventing backflow of contaminated water in the hose back into the drinking water system. Garden hoses are connected to the vacuum breaker that is connected to the hose bibb or hydrant. The vacuum breaker allows forward flow of water but prevents any backflow.
Aside from looking bulky and unpleasant, a major disadvantage of vacuum breakers is that they typically restrict the forward flow of water from the hose bibb or hydrant. However, the Arrow-Breaker technology developed by Champion-Arrowhead LLC, allows hose bibbs and hydrants to have a vacuum breaker built-in. Hose bibbs and hydrants with ArrowBreaker technology look just like a regular hose bibb or hydrant but have a built-in vacuum breaker that prevent backflow and does not restrict the forward flow of water. So hose bibbs and hydrants with ArrowBreaker technology look and function the same way as standard hose bibbs and hydrants with the added benefit of preventing any backflow to protect the drinking water.
Case Studies and Regulations
Recent changes to local codes have made vacuum breakers a requirement in 48 states. Backflow is a major source of contamination of the drinking water and has detrimentally affected various towns and neighborhoods across the country.
In 1977, an entire town in North Dakota had to have its entire water distribution system flushed out and disinfected when two residents decided to spray DDT with their garden hose. A backflow incident sucked DDT through the home piping system and out into the town’s water distribution system.
In 1983, the City of Calgary, Alberta was forced to flush its water mains because E.coli had been injected into the drinking water system through a backflow incident at a local veterinary office. The City immediately ordered the installation of vacuum breakers throughout the veterinary office to prevent any future incidents.
In 1990, the Overland Middle School in Brighton, Colorado shut down to flush its water pipes after 9 students were sent to the hospital for ethylene glycol poisoning. During a routine maintenance check of the school’s hot-water heating boiler, workers left open a valve on the potable water line feeding the boiler. This allowed water containing the antifreeze ethylene glycol to backflow into the school’s drinking water. No vacuum breakers were used on the feed
lines to the boiler.
Due to the importance of maintaining safe clean water to drink, it is strongly recommended, and required in 48 states, that all hose bibbs or hydrants have a vacuum breaker installed at all times to prevent any backflow of water into the drinking water system. Hose bibbs and hydrants with ArrowBreaker technology have a vacuum breaker built-in that does not restrict the forward flow of water and can never be removed or tampered with.
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