Vacuum Breakers Vs. Backflow Preventers: Which One Is Better?
Most people are looking for answers about vacuum breakers vs. backflow preventers, which are vital plumbing devices that keep your home’s water supply pure.
But which one is ideal for your particular situation? Before making a final decision, you should consider numerous elements, each of which has benefits and drawbacks.
A backflow preventer and a vacuum breaker serve the same purpose: to protect the quality of your home’s water by preventing harmful external influences from contaminating it.
Read on to learn more and clear the air on the discussion between “Vacuum Breakers Vs. Backflow Preventers,” and evaluate the benefits and downsides of each device to determine which is best for you!
Vacuum Breakers vs. Backflow Preventers: Why Are Both Devices Necessary?
Backflow preventers and vacuum breakers are critical to preventing contamination of your drinking water.
Backflow preventers – A backflow preventer is designed to protect a water supply from contaminants by keeping the water pressure in the indoor plumbing system above atmospheric pressure at all times.
On the other hand, when the pressure differential between the indoor plumbing system and the pressure in an outdoor sink or piping system exceeds a specific threshold vacuum breaker is designed to reverse water flow.
Vacuum Breakers vs. Backflow Preventers: How It Works?
It would help if you understood how each device works before deciding whether a vacuum breaker or a backflow preventer is suitable for your home.
Here’s a quick rundown: A one-way valve on vacuum breakers opens automatically if there is a negative pressure in the system.
If a toilet overflows, a faucet is left running, or a stormwater line is left open, this negative pressure can occur.
Backflow preventers are installed on the main water line. They have two valves: a test valve and a retest valve. As water flows through the main water line, it contacts the retest valve and enters the city sewer.
When water flows in the opposite direction (from the sewer system to the water line), the test valve opens and closes the water flow.
Vacuum Breakers vs. Backflow Preventers: What’s The Difference?
A backflow preventer and a vacuum breaker protect your home’s water supply from contamination. The main difference between them is how they go about it.
Let’s look at the differences between a backflow preventer and a vacuum breaker.
- Location: The first distinction between a backflow preventer and a vacuum breaker is where they are installed.
A backflow preventer on the main water line is installed, and a vacuum breaker is installed downstream of an appliance, such as a washing machine, water heater, or sprinkler system.
- Operation: The second distinction between a backflow preventer and a vacuum breaker is their operation.
A vacuum breaker has a one-way valve that opens automatically if the system is under pressure. On the other hand, a backflow preventer has two valves: a test valve and a retest valve.
- Water Pressure: The third distinction between a backflow preventer and a vacuum breaker is the amount of water pressure applied.
A backflow preventer is subjected to moderate water pressure, whereas a vacuum breaker is subjected to low water pressure.
Vacuum Breakers vs. Backflow Preventers: What To Look For?
You may be wondering what to look for when selecting a vacuum breaker or a backflow preventer now that you understand the fundamental differences between these devices.
Here are some essential factors to remember:
- Flow rate: The flow rate is the volume of water that flows through the device in a given time. The higher the flow rate, the more frequently the device must be maintained or replaced.
- Size: The dimensions of the vacuum breaker or backflow preventer are critical because they determine the pipe size it will install. The pipe fitting size is determined by subtracting the vacuum breaker’s or backflow preventer’s inside diameter from the pipe’s inside diameter.
- Location: As we’ve already discussed, the vacuum breaker’s location or backflow preventer’s location is critical in determining which one to choose.
Vacuum Breakers vs. Backflow Preventers: Pros & Cons
Vacuum Breaker: Pros & Cons
- Reduces Water Pressure:A vacuum breaker can lower system water pressure. This is particularly useful in areas where there is a risk of low water pressure due to geographical features such as hills and valleys
- Does not impair water flow:A vacuum breaker also has the advantage of not reducing the volume of water flow. This is critical to remember if you have an irrigation system dependent on city water.
- Affordability:Vacuum breakers are significantly less expensive than backflow preventers, making them an excellent choice for low-income homeowners.
- Easily Misconfigured: Vacuum breakers, unlike backflow preventers, are not designed to withstand the open and closed test valve. If this occurs, the device may be misconfigured and not function properly.
- No Contamination Protection: Another disadvantage of a vacuum breaker is that it does not protect against contaminants entering your water supply from outside sources.
- Overflow Risk: Vacuum breakers are installed downstream of a device, such as a washing machine or water heater. If one of these appliances overflows, the water will discharge into the sewer system via the vacuum breaker.
Vacuum Breaker: Pros & Cons
- Prevents Contamination from Outside Sources: In the discussion on vacuum breakers vs. backflow preventers; where backflow preventer’s main advantage is that it prevents contamination from outside sources by closing the test valve when the water is flowing in the opposite direction.
- Durability: Backflow preventers, unlike vacuum breakers, are built to withstand the test valve being opened and closed. As a result, they are an excellent choice for areas with a risk of contamination from outside sources.
- Doesn’t Reduce Water Pressure: Another benefit of a backflow preventer is that it doesn’t reduce system water pressure. This is especially useful in areas where water pressure is an issue.
- Expensive: Backflow preventers are more expensive than vacuum breakers, so they are a better choice for homeowners concerned about contamination from outside sources.
- Installation: Because backflow preventers require a higher degree of precision in pipe fitting, they must also be installed by a professional. This may increase the cost of installation.
- Reduces Water Flow: In the debate between Vacuum Breakers Vs. Backflow Preventers; where backflow preventers, as opposed to vacuum breakers, reduce the volume of water flow. If you rely on municipal water for irrigation, you may run out of water sooner.
Vacuum Breakers Vs. Backflow Preventers: Which One To Choose?
As per the pointers mentioned above, you may sort yourself into the discussions between vacuum breakers vs. backflow preventers.
The debate ‘vacuum breakers vs. backflow preventers’ is based on two primary considerations: the type of water supply you have and the position of the vacuum breakers or backflow preventers near your water source. Water supply classifies into two types: inside-the-premises (ITP) and outside-the-premises (OTP):
You must install a backflow preventer if you have an ITP water supply. In case your water supply is OTP, and you’re installing a vacuum breaker, make sure the vacuum breaker and the water source are on the same side of the property line. We do this to keep contaminants from outside sources, such as pesticides and fertilizer, from entering your home’s water.
Vaccum breakers vs. backflow preventers are essential for keeping your home’s water supply clean. They approach it, however, in different ways. If the system is under pressure, a vacuum breaker’s one-way valve opens immediately.
On the other hand, a backflow preventer contains two valves: a test valve and a retest valve.
The major aspects when determining which one to choose are the type of water supply you have and the position of the vacuum breaker or backflow preventer in relation to your water source.