Health officials believe that thousands of people become ill because of contaminated water every year. Most folks think it is the stomach flu or food poisoning when contaminated water is the real culprit.Around your home, you must always separate drinking or potable water from any source of contamination. How could contamination happen? Check out your exterior hose bib (faucet) and think about how you use it. You water the dog, leave the hose lying on the ground, and maybe even connect it to a fertilizer or chemical weed sprayer. Then, if the contaminated water is allowed to flow back – yuck, some of it mingles with your drinking water.

Wherever there’s a possibility that contaminated water might contact drinking water, there should be a backflow preventer. On many exterior hoses, this is that thick brass fitting where you attach the hose. This backflow preventer stops dirty water from backing up into the drinking water. In some cases, the backflow device may be built into a hose bib.

Many devices in your home, including hot water boilers, steam boilers, and lawn sprinklers, have special backflow preventers. Other fixtures have the separation built in: a tub faucet always sits above the rim of the tub, and the toilet fill valve is placed above the water line.

If you have any questions or concerns about water backflow in your home, contact your water utility, plumber or home inspector. And don’t remove any of these safety devices. Sure, the hose connection may spray your foot when you turn it off, but that safety device is worth it to ensure clean drinking water in your home.