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Secrets Every Sprinkler System Owner Must Know About Pressure Vacuum Breakers

Secrets Every Sprinkler System Owner Must Know About Pressure Vacuum Breakers

Welcome to our guide on sprinkler irrigation system pressure vacuum breakers (PVB).

This article will provide a detailed understanding of PVBs, their significance, and why you need one for your irrigation system.

We will explore how PVBs work, discuss maintenance requirements, and provide insights into necessary repairs.

Pressure Vacuum Breakers

By the end of this guide, you will have a thorough knowledge of pressure vacuum breakers, enabling you to make informed decisions for protecting your home's freshwater supply.

Why You Need a Pressure Vacuum Breaker

Contamination of the water supply poses significant risks, making prevention crucial.

Local building codes typically mandate the installation of backflow prevention devices on all water systems.

Since most homes have a single water system for drinking water and other household uses, including irrigation, contamination through cross-connections always exists.

A pressure vacuum breaker is an indispensable component that safeguards your home's freshwater supply by preventing backflow or back siphoning of water from the irrigation system.

Backflow can occur if there is a sudden drop in water pressure in the main water supply.

For instance, if the city water is interrupted, negative pressure may develop in the home's main supply.

Negative pressure creates a siphoning effect, allowing water to flow backward in the pipes.

Although such events are rare, they can lead to the suction of water from sprinkler lines into the main water supply and, subsequently, enter your household fixtures.

Installing a pressure vacuum breaker is crucial to mitigate these risks effectively.

Pressure Vacuum Breakers

How a Pressure Vacuum Breaker Works

A pressure vacuum breaker comprises a check device or check valve and an air inlet vented to the atmosphere.

The check valve allows water to flow through while keeping the air inlet closed under normal conditions.

However, when the air pressure surpasses the water pressure, the vented chamber opens, breaking the suction effect of the low pressure and preventing the backflow of water.

It is vital to install the pressure vacuum breaker close to the water source before it enters the sprinkler valves.

Typically, it should be placed above the highest point in the system, such as the highest sprinkler head or the highest slope in your yard.

Pressure Vacuum Breakers

Maintenance of Pressure Vacuum Breakers

Maintaining a pressure vacuum breaker is relatively straightforward, requiring only minimal effort.

Periodically, it is essential to check the breaker for leaks. Leaks may occur if the sealing tape or plumber's putty connecting the sides of the breaker is worn, incorrectly installed, or missing.

Inspect the connections thoroughly and replace any seals showing signs of wear or damage.

Additionally, internal components may require replacement every five years or as the manufacturer specifies.

O-ring gaskets that seal against the inner walls of the breaker may become brittle and crack over time, while the plastic poppet and bonnet can also experience wear.

Malfunctioning components can affect vacuum pressure and result in water leakage from under the cap.

Therefore, monitoring these parts regularly and replacing them when necessary is crucial.

Protecting the pressure vacuum breaker from freezing during cold weather is paramount.

Winterizing your sprinkler system involves draining the PVB to prevent damage caused by freezing temperatures.

Failure to drain the PVB can lead to cracking or bursting of internal parts, necessitating replacement. A

After winterization, it is recommended to open the valves on the PVB halfway to allow any residual water to escape as air, preventing pressure buildup that may cause damage.

To summarize, here is a maintenance checklist for your pressure vacuum breaker:

  1. Check sealing tape or plumber's putty at connection points for leaks.
  2. Inspect the integrity of o-ring gaskets.
  3. Drain the PVB during winterization to prevent damage.
  4. Open valves halfway after winterization to release residual water.
Pressure Vacuum Breakers

Repairs of Pressure Vacuum Breakers

Over time, the internal components of a pressure vacuum breaker can become damaged due to freezing or regular use.

If you notice leaking from under the bell or bonnet assembly of the valve, it is a clear indication that something is not functioning correctly.

In such cases, repair kits specific to each PVB model are available from the manufacturer.

A standard repair involves turning off the inlet and outlet ball valves and removing the bonnet assembly. Organizing the components during disassembly is advisable to facilitate the reverse installation process.

Once the repair parts are installed, the water supply can be turned on, starting with the inlet water supply valve.

Local building codes may govern whether homeowners can repair the backflow device, possibly requiring an inspection.

A pressure vacuum breaker is an indispensable safety device for any sprinkler irrigation system.

It protects against backflow or back siphoning of water, safeguarding your home's freshwater supply from contamination.

By understanding how PVBs work, performing regular maintenance, and addressing necessary repairs, you can ensure your irrigation system's continued functionality and reliability.

Implementing these measures will adhere to building codes and provide you with peace of mind knowing that your water supply remains secure.

Remember, for the proper functioning of your pressure vacuum breaker:

  1. Install it close to the water source, above the highest point in the system.
  2. Check for leaks periodically and replace seals if necessary.
  3. Replace internal components as recommended by the manufacturer.
  4. Drain the PVB during winterization to prevent damage.
  5. Follow repair procedures specific to your PVB model.

By following these guidelines, you can maintain a robust and reliable pressure vacuum breaker, ensuring the safety and integrity of your home's freshwater supply for years to come.

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