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Backflow Test Fail: What Happens Now? A Guide to Understanding and Addressing the Issue

The backflow prevention test is a crucial step in ensuring the safety of your drinking water. It verifies that the device installed in your plumbing system is working correctly to prevent contaminated water from flowing back into your home's potable water supply. But what happens if your backflow prevention device fails the test?  

This blog explores the potential consequences of a failed backflow prevention test, outlining the steps you should take to address the issue and get your system back in working order.

The Consequences of a Failed Test:

  • Immediate Action Required: A failed backflow prevention test indicates a potential health risk. The device is not functioning as intended, and contaminated water could flow back into your home's water supply. It's crucial to take immediate action to address the issue.

  • Potential for Contamination: A malfunctioning backflow prevention device can lead to contamination of your drinking water, posing a serious health risk to you and your family. Contaminated water can carry harmful bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens that can cause illnesses like gastrointestinal infections, skin rashes, and respiratory problems.

  • Compliance Violations: Many municipalities and water districts require regular backflow prevention testing to ensure compliance with local regulations. Failing to pass the test can result in fines, penalties, or even water service disruptions.

  • Increased Risk of Backflow: A failed test indicates that your backflow prevention device is not working as intended. This increases the risk of backflow occurring, potentially contaminating your water supply and putting your health at risk.

What to Do After a Failed Test:

  • Contact Your Tester: Immediately contact the certified backflow prevention tester who conducted the test. They can provide you with a detailed explanation of the test results and identify the specific issues with your device.

  • Identify the Problem: The tester will assess the backflow prevention device and identify the cause of the failure. This could be a simple issue like a worn-out part or a more complex problem requiring a full replacement.

  • Repairs or Replacement: Depending on the nature of the problem, the tester may be able to make repairs on-site or recommend a qualified plumber to address the issue. If the device is beyond repair, a replacement will be necessary.

  • Retest After Repairs: Once repairs or replacements are completed, a retest is required to ensure that the backflow prevention device is functioning correctly. This retest will confirm that the issue has been resolved and that your water supply is safe.

Tips for Preventing Future Failures:

  • Regular Testing: Backflow prevention devices should be tested annually, and more frequently if they are located in high-risk areas or have a history of malfunctions.

  • Professional Maintenance: Have your backflow prevention device inspected and maintained by a qualified professional at least once a year. They can identify any wear and tear, perform necessary repairs, and ensure that the device is operating efficiently.

  • Know Your Device: Familiarize yourself with the type of backflow prevention device installed in your home and its operating principles. This will help you understand the importance of regular testing and maintenance.


A failed backflow prevention test is not a cause for panic, but it does require prompt action.  By understanding the potential consequences of a failed test and taking the necessary steps to address the issue, you can ensure the safety of your drinking water and protect the health of your family.  Remember, a functioning backflow prevention device is a crucial safeguard for your home and community.

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