What Happens if My Backflow Test Fails?

July 16, 2021
Backflow Testing

If your backflow test failed in the Midwest, you’ll be faced with two options: repair or replace. The right decision depends on several criteria, e.g. how old the backflow assembly is, are repair parts readily available, and whether it’s less expensive to replace the assembly than repair. Mid-West Instrument reviews some of the most important questions to help you make a more informed decision.

How Old is the Assembly?

Backflow preventers are made to last, and there are assemblies still in use that were installed fifty-plus ago that still provide invaluable protection for water systems. So, replacing a functioning assembly only because of its length of service doesn’t make sense. Instead, an examination of the assembly’s parts is to determine which parts are responsible for the failure, and the cost of these parts compared to replacing the entire assembly. If a repair scenario requires only the replacement of minor (i.e. rubber) parts, a repair makes perfect sense. However, if the replacement parts will cost several thousand dollars because the assembly coating is breaking down, a full-scale replacement might be in order.

Are Repair Parts Available?

For most existing assemblies, repair parts are available to make a proper repair. Instrument manufacturers like Mid-West Instrument have parts in stock to cover everything from backflow assembly to a backflow troubleshooting test, and we work with manufacturers of all products and sizes. Contrarily, most local plumbing suppliers don’t stock backflow repair parts, especially for older assemblies.

What’s More Expensive: Repair or Replacement?

This question has several variables, the foremost of which is the assembly size. If a small assembly fails a backflow test and no repair kit is available, it may make sense to simply replace the assembly instead of spending potentially hundreds of dollars on parts and labor. Also, replacement is usually the way to go if you’re trying to avoid any downtime about water service. For large facilities with equally large assemblies, it’s not uncommon for backup parts to be available onsite for quick in-house repairs. This is a good way for large companies to save money since changing out a twelve-inch assembly cannot be compared to the cost of replacing a three-quarter-inch assembly.

How Difficult Would a Repair Be?

As with most industrial products and machinery, modern backflow assemblies are more repair-friendly than older assemblies. The newest generation of backflow prevention assemblies incorporate captured springs and check modules, are shorter in lay length, and have superior flow rates and lighter valves–all of which make modern assemblies less challenging to repair. Also, if your business has easy access to trained personnel and the requisite parts needed, even complex repairs can be instituted quickly. In the end, each situation should be carefully considered before the proper decision is made.

Get Professional Backflow Testing and Prevention Today

A failed backflow prevention assembly isn’t something that can be quickly classified as obsolete. Like many other plumbing components, it’s important to consider every detail before deciding whether to repair or replace it. Contact Mid-West Instrument today to learn more about backflow testing and prevention and to see our full line of instruments for pressure monitoring and flow applications in the Midwest.