When you own or manage a restaurant, water backflow prevention is critical to avert drinking water contamination of restaurant water systems. That is why a commercial backflow preventer is required by law.

Not sure if you have a backflow device or what the purpose of your backflow preventer is?  Most likely, your restaurant has at least one commercial backflow prevention device located within the water pipes to ensure water only flows one way, preventing drinking water from being contaminated due to “backflow.” It is imperative that it remain in working order to protect your customers, staff, and community. It is also important to understand the potential signs of a broken backflow preventer to avoid contaminated water in your restaurant. 

What is the Purpose of a Backflow Preventer & Bacfklow Prevention?

The purpose of a backflow preventer is to ensure when water enters your restaurant water systems from the main water supply, it should only ever flow IN. However, sometimes a pressure change in the line can occur from a water main break, power outage, or an open fire hydrant, leaving the potential for water to flow backwards and seep into the main water supply line. 

Why Your Restaurant Needs a Commercial Backflow Preventer 

When your backflow prevention device is working, it stops this from happening. If your commercial backflow preventer stops working and there is a pressure change, backflow of water could lead to serious problems.

1. Contamination of Public Drinking Water.  Dirty water and soap from sinks and dishwashers, other solid waste from drains and disposals, human waste, and chemical cleaning agents can back up into the community’s water supply and potentially make people ill.

2. Pollution of Restaurant Water Systems. Dangerous water can get into your restaurant’s drinking water sources and beverage systems, sinks and kitchen areas – anywhere there are water lines cross-connected to a potable water system. This is a more direct threat to your customers and staff, especially when backflow impurities go undetected and people become sick. That’s why each “cross-connection” point is required by law to have a backflow device and undergo an annual inspection.

Restaurants’ potential cross-connections that require a backflow prevention device:

  • Beverage systems using CO2 tanks
  • Dishwashers
  • Ice makers
  • Coffee machines
  • Steam cooking systems
  • Preparation areas
  • Water fountains
  • Fire Sprinkler Systems
  • Irrigation Systems

How to Identify Broken Backflow Devices in Your Water System

When you run a busy restaurant, there a few general indicators of a broken backflow preventer you need to watch for, including cloudy, muddy, or strange looking/smelling/tasting water, as well as backflow preventer leaking. Also, less water pressure and/or an illness outbreak can be an indication there is a backflow prevention problem.

Sometimes the signs of a broken backflow prevention device are not obvious but can still cause prolonged bouts of chronic illness, which is why regular inspections and testing by a certified backflow preventer technician are critical to the health of your customers, staff, and restaurant.

Restaurant Backflow Preventer Inspection Requirements?

According to the Certified Commercial Property Inspectors Association (CCPIA), the EPA holds each municipality accountable for its own water purity, therefore commercial backflow preventer inspection requirements, testing and pricing may differ slightly by region, however, typical inspection requirements include the following:

  • When your backflow prevention assembly is first installed by a licensed plumber, it should be tested.
  • There should be an annual inspection/test of each cross-connection control and backflow preventer by a certified backflow prevention inspection company.
  • Inspect and test after any repair, replacement, or relocation of the backflow prevention assembly.

When it comes to backflow preventer inspections, it is important for you to know that a licensed fire protection sprinkler inspector can legally inspect your backflow preventors, but a backflow inspector cannot, by code, inspect your sprinkler system. Therefore, you can save time and money by hiring AIE’s sprinkler inspector to also inspect your backflow preventers when performing your annual certifications. 

Ensure Water Systems Safety with Inspections & Cross-Connection

Now that you know how vital your restaurant backflow prevention device and cross-connection devices are to the safety of your customers, staff, and business, you can see why AIE recommends backflow prevention inspections occur more often than backflow preventer inspection requirements. When you work with a company that provides all fire and water services, it is convenient to test them along with your other regularly scheduled NFPA fire protection and safety inspections.

Commercial backflow preventer issues can be subtle yet dangerous, so be sure to make this critically important action part of your overall life-safety plan. If you have any questions about your restaurant’s backflow preventers, contact us today. Our helpful, in-house customer care team is available, 24/7/365. 800-892-9863




Information posted in our blog is merely for educational and informational purposes. While the information has been verified to the best of our abilities, we cannot guarantee its total accuracy, and it should not be considered legally binding advice. This blog is not intended as a substitute for professional advice, and should you decide to act upon the information, you do so at your own risk.