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Old 04-16-2010, 11:03 AM   #1
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Unsafe irrigation systems....? Why bother?


Let's see if I have this correct.

I have moved into a house with an extensive DIY lawn irrigation system....which is overkill for the small amount of lawn actually onsite. (It could easily be handled with regular sprinklers and hose, but the previous owner was a DIY nut)

So I have had the irrigation company around to tell me something about the setup and learned I have a "dual" check valve installed instead of the better "double" check valve to prevent backflow of contaminated water into the house and municipal supply.

The dual valve cannot be tested and the double one can.

Whaaaat! a valve is needed to prevent contamination of our water and the valve is so prone to failure and leaking and should be tested regularly by a certified technician in a metered test. Moreover I have the wrong valve and it will cost me $200 plus labour for a plumber to install the correct one.

Tell me is it worth it? Right now I am leaning to shutting off the system permanently to prevent danger to our family's health.

Seems like lawn irrigation seems dangerous and prone to failure. Or have I been alarmed by the irrigation company needlessly?

I would be grateful for any advice or words of experience from people with the mere dual check valve system, or an installer who knows the odds or frequency of these systems becoming dangerous to use.

Or should I post this in the plumbing forum?

Thanks.

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Old 04-16-2010, 11:26 AM   #2
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Unsafe irrigation systems....? Why bother?


Backfeeding the water supply is a danger, even with reg lawn hoses
I never water my lawn, unless growing new grass
I've added more gardens & gradually cut down on my lawn
Plus it really doesn't get that hot up here to need to water

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Old 04-16-2010, 03:32 PM   #3
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Unsafe irrigation systems....? Why bother?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Hossenfeffer View Post
I have had the irrigation company around to tell me something about the setup and learned I have a "dual" check valve installed instead of the better "double" check valve to prevent backflow of contaminated water into the house and municipal supply.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hossenfeffer View Post

The dual valve cannot be tested and the double one can.
The double check backflow assembly is not only better because it can be tested, it is code in a lot of areas. You haven't told us where your home is. Check with your local municipality or water district for the by-laws that affect you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hossenfeffer View Post
Whaaaat! a valve is needed to prevent contamination of our water and the valve is so prone to failure and leaking and should be tested regularly by a certified technician in a metered test.
Hmmm, that is interesting. By your statement, I gather that you expect all man-made mechanical devices to be perfect and self maintained for a lifetime of continuous, unaffected service. You've paid a lot more than $200.00 for your car/truck. Does that run perfectly without maintenance? What about your home? What do you do for a living? Does the product that you manufacture or ship, or sell always work perfectly for a lifetime? Didn't think so.

It's a mechanical device. It can and will fail over time, the same as any other mechanical device. It has to be tested annually to prevent failure, and only a certified backflow assembly tester can do it.

I can understand that you are upset by finding out that the previous owner stuck you with additional expenses, but that is the nature of some DIY's. Some of them tend to try to save money by doing things illegally.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hossenfeffer View Post
Moreover I have the wrong valve and it will cost me $200 plus labour for a plumber to install the correct one.

Tell me is it worth it? Right now I am leaning to shutting off the system permanently to prevent danger to our family's health.

Seems like lawn irrigation seems dangerous and prone to failure. Or have I been alarmed by the irrigation company needlessly?
Lawn Irrigation is not dangerous. The back-flow, or back siphonage of water from your lawn to your drinking water supply can very well be. If it is code in your district, change it and make it right. Your family’s health might depend on it.

If you so decide to shut down your irrigation system, and go with dragging hoses, make sure that you get a hose-bibb vacuum breaker for your hose bibb. Again, check with your water district or municipality on your code.

Another little tidbit that a lot of people don't know about. If something does happen, and contaminated water does get back into the public water supply, and they trace it back to you, your insurance won't cover it. There is a little section at the bottom of your insurance policy that is normally titled - Common Exclusions Applicable to Coverage(s) - Pollution Liability.

It states that if you cause 'pollutants' to be discharged, and it damages property or causes anyone loss, cost, or expense - and this is the kicker - You're not covered.

Yep, you get to pay all expenses yourself.

Mick
Certified Backflow Assembly Tester
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Old 04-16-2010, 07:38 PM   #4
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Unsafe irrigation systems....? Why bother?


Look at these for $25 give or take.
http://store.rainbird.com/custom/pro...9-fa7b109580e4

Are you handy with any kind of plumbing?
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Old 04-16-2010, 07:46 PM   #5
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Unsafe irrigation systems....? Why bother?


Yep, I'm just learning about these.

What I have is an inline brass/copper dual valve in the crawlspace.

What I was told was that I required a $200 brass/copper version of the double valve plus installation....this on a 3/4" copper pipe.

I was not told about the type of valves you have shown me. They look reasonable. But I get the impression they do not meet the standards expected by the municipality, but if I can get the local irrigation people to tell me more, I will track something like this down.

Thanks for the tip Scubadave
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Old 04-16-2010, 07:52 PM   #6
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Unsafe irrigation systems....? Why bother?


Quote:
Backfeeding the water supply is a danger, even with reg lawn hoses
Forgot to mention this but my water supply has a check valve on my side of the meter. So the only potential danger in my case is to my own house.
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Old 04-16-2010, 08:09 PM   #7
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Unsafe irrigation systems....? Why bother?


I had new freeze-proof water faucets installed w/syphon breaks
I still need 2 more outdoor faucets installed & will have the same kind installed
I never knew about the backfeeding until I read it online, not sure where
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Old 04-16-2010, 08:44 PM   #8
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Unsafe irrigation systems....? Why bother?


Thanks for all the feedback. Yes, I agree, going up to code is the smart thing to do. I just am a little confused because the "consultant" who was in and told me about the old style valve, says that is the kind he has on his house.

Moreover, the testing of the double valves seems to be something that is done by authorities in municipalities, is that correct, or is the homeowner to do this?....and one site I accessed noted that the act of testing the valve in the common way give in the manuals for the devices, can very well lead to failure by dislodging scale and causing seepage improper closure in the very next instant and this will not be detected as the test has been concluded beforehand.

What gets me is that the DIY nutbar did not even need to put in a sprinker system on a property this modest. And I do believe that if a job is worth doing, it is worth doing right...often the antithesis of this DIY phenomena.

You fellows have given me good advice. Thanks. I turned the system off with the cutoff between the valve and the house main house supply. I will use a hose with a safety device instead.

Now I don't have to worry about how to rebury the irrigation lines the guy left on the surface.....I'll just cut them out and plant more lawn.
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Old 04-17-2010, 08:31 AM   #9
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Unsafe irrigation systems....? Why bother?


A couple of parting (maybe) notes:

The primary purpose of double check valves is for when you are dealing with dangerous chemicals, i.e. in this case if you have a fertilizer injector in your irrigation system. In other words, between the house and the irrigation system. The dual check valves are fine for where there is nothing dangerous to be sucked back into the supply. In other words, between your house and the supply. The presumption is that you only have clean water in your house so only clean water would possibly be sucked back into the supply. DUHHH!

Quote:
I will use a hose with a safety device instead.
The 2.99 vacuum breaker at Xmart was going to be my suggestion to you eventually. Think of trying to siphon gas from the truck for the lawn mower and the siphon hose has a hole in it. You can't suck gas from the truck because you are sucking air through the hole. Same difference. The vacuum breaker sucks air instead of whatever may be in your hose back into the house.

Good luck on your project!
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Old 04-17-2010, 12:43 PM   #10
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Unsafe irrigation systems....? Why bother?


Quote:
Originally Posted by downunder View Post
The primary purpose of double check valves is for when you are dealing with dangerous chemicals, i.e. in this case if you have a fertilizer injector in your irrigation system.


Sorry downunder, I can't let you have the last word because most of what you have said is unfortunately wrong. I don't know where you have picked up your information, but you need to do more research or get more training from people that know what they are doing.

Nope! If you have fertilizer injector in your irrigation system you need a Reduced Pressure Backflow Assembly (RPBA), or also known as a Reduced Pressure Zone Backflow Assembly (RPZ).

RPZ's are normally placed in high hazard situations, an irrigation system on it's own is a medium hazard situation and a RPZ is not needed. A Double Check Backflow Assembly (DCVA) or a Pressure Vacuum Breaker (PVB) is used in a medium hazard situation. But again, people, you will have to verify with your municipality or your Water District exactly what they require in YOUR area. In our area they will not allow PVB's to be installed, yet they are allowed in many area of the USA.

I have a hard time understanding why you are telling people what they need in an area that is in another part of the country. Do you know exactly what the Water District needs are in OP's area? I sure don't, and I've been trained for installing, testing, and repairing of backflow assemblies. I also don't know where he lives. As far as I can tell, he hasn't told us. How can you know what his water by-law says if we don't know where he lives?

Quote:
Originally Posted by downunder View Post
In other words, between the house and the irrigation system.
Quote:
Originally Posted by downunder View Post
The dual check valves are fine for where there is nothing dangerous to be sucked back into the supply. In other words, between your house and the supply. The presumption is that you only have clean water in your house so only clean water would possibly be sucked back into the supply. DUHHH!
I some areas, yes, a dual check valve is all that is required by code, but the OP was told that he needs a DCVA by someone that works in the industry and follows the code in his area. It's dangerous and irresponsible to be telling some one that he needs a lower class type backflow device on his plumbing. You don't know what the water pressures are or flow rates in the OP's area.

You should only presume that the OP has clean water coming from the Water District. After the property line the Water District can't control what happens to the clean water and doesn't want the water back. Introduction of contaminated or polluted water can happen anywhere in the home, but that's for another thread.

An irrigation system, by definition has little teeny tiny holes in small pipes that are buried in the ground or on the surface that weeps water for plants, or has pop-up heads, and or gear drive heads that pop up out of the ground that disperse water that is distributed by mostly an underground network of pipes, hopefully is a somewhat even spray pattern.

If an irrigation system was completely sealed and didn't have any openings, ports, holes, pop-ups, gear drives, micro-sprays, drips (making it completely useless and no longer an irrigation system) or any other way for the water to get out of the pipes, then yes, this could be a way to make sure that the water in the irrigation system would be just as clean as the water in the home.
Animal feces (bird, dog, cat, rabbit, squirrel), oil and fuel from vehicles, fertilizers, pesticides, poisons (rat, mouse, ant, termite) and one of my favorites, nematodes can all be found in the lawns and gardens of homes in North America. Water is NOT clean and potable when it's in your irrigation system. Without an properly working, appreove backflow preventer, water can be sucked up from your lawn and get back into your irrigation system, then your home with all the little nasties in with it.

Nematodes are a small parasitic worm that is (to some degree) in most laws in North America. It's been estimated that there are upwards of 10-18,000 different varieties of nematodes out there. Nematodes get into the intestinal tract and can cause a variety of gastro-intestinal problems. You NEED a properly working backflow assembly on your irrigation system.

Quote:
Originally Posted by downunder View Post
The 2.99 vacuum breaker at Xmart was going to be my suggestion to you eventually. Think of trying to siphon gas from the truck for the lawn mower and the siphon hose has a hole in it. You can't suck gas from the truck because you are sucking air through the hole. Same difference. The vacuum breaker sucks air instead of whatever may be in your hose back into the house.
Quote:
Originally Posted by downunder View Post

Good luck on your project!
The vacuum breaker is great for protecting a hose bibb, but not for an irrigation system. Anti-siphon valves that you posted earlier are also not an approved backflow assembly device.

Mick
Nematode.doc
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Old 04-17-2010, 12:56 PM   #11
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Unsafe irrigation systems....? Why bother?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Hossenfeffer View Post
Thanks for all the feedback. Yes, I agree, going up to code is the smart thing to do. I just am a little confused because the "consultant" who was in and told me about the old style valve, says that is the kind he has on his house.

Moreover, the testing of the double valves seems to be something that is done by authorities in municipalities, is that correct, or is the homeowner to do this?....and one site I accessed noted that the act of testing the valve in the common way give in the manuals for the devices, can very well lead to failure by dislodging scale and causing seepage improper closure in the very next instant and this will not be detected as the test has been concluded beforehand.

What gets me is that the DIY nutbar did not even need to put in a sprinker system on a property this modest. And I do believe that if a job is worth doing, it is worth doing right...often the antithesis of this DIY phenomena.

You fellows have given me good advice. Thanks. I turned the system off with the cutoff between the valve and the house main house supply. I will use a hose with a safety device instead.

Now I don't have to worry about how to rebury the irrigation lines the guy left on the surface.....I'll just cut them out and plant more lawn.
Testing has to be performed by a Certified Backflow Assembly Tester.

A backflow assembly is a mechanical device and could fail at anytime, as could your car or truck ten minutes after you leave you mechanics shop.

If there is some scale inside the device, problems should show up during the test, and it should then be opened up and cleaned before the test is repeated.

If any scale was dislodged during testing, the scale would be sent down stream after the test was complete through the open valves. That same scale would have to arrive back at the open check valve and lodge in it at the exact time or a back-siphonage or back-pressure situation to cause a problem.

The chances of that happening at the exact specific times are astronomical. I'll will the lottery before scale causes any backflow assemblies that I test any problems.

Mick
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Old 04-17-2010, 01:12 PM   #12
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Unsafe irrigation systems....? Why bother?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Hossenfeffer View Post
I have moved into a house with an extensive DIY lawn irrigation system....which is overkill for the small amount of lawn actually onsite. (It could easily be handled with regular sprinklers and hose, but the previous owner was a DIY nut)
One possible reason for the irrigation system:
watering is often times restricted to certain hours - possibly when people are at work or later in the day/night
An irrigation system allows you to water when allowed & when it is best for the lawn
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Old 04-17-2010, 03:08 PM   #13
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Unsafe irrigation systems....? Why bother?


Thanks for the reply about watering restrictions , but I live in a community with a surfeit of water. There never has been and never will be restrictions here on this part of the Wet Coast. In fact, a mountain river that is 3 min walk from the house is used to fill one of the community water reservoirs a half mile up hill from me. The river has not altered in the past 1000 years and it will not alter in the next 1000, except dig a slightly deeper channel. It is a nice spot and I know rather enviable for many with restrictions.

We have communities in other areas of the province that sell green paint to spray on the dried and dead lawns that are not permitted to be watered in the summer.
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Old 04-19-2010, 12:01 PM   #14
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Unsafe irrigation systems....? Why bother?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Water Guy View Post

The vacuum breaker is great for protecting a hose bibb, but not for an irrigation system.

Mick
Attachment 19683
That was suggested in the event he decided to just use a hose.
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Old 04-24-2010, 06:01 PM   #15
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Unsafe irrigation systems....? Why bother?


Quote:
Sorry downunder, I can't let you have the last word because most of what you have said is unfortunately wrong.
Most?

Quote:
I don't know where you have picked up your information, but you need to do more research or get more training from people that know what they are doing.
Manufacturer's data, the University of Georgia, local codes, and my experience in commercial installation.

Quote:
I would be grateful for any advice or words of experience from people with the mere dual check valve system, or an installer who knows the odds or frequency of these systems becoming dangerous to use.
"any advice or words of experience" and "the odds or frequency" seem to be the OP's concern here.

Quote:
Tell me is it worth it? Right now I am leaning to shutting off the system permanently to prevent danger to our family's health.
This also seems to ask for opinion.

Quote:
but the OP was told that he needs a DCVA by someone that works in the industry and follows the code in his area
Hearsay! OP actually said that "So I have had the irrigation company around to tell me something about the setup and learned I have a "dual" check valve installed instead of the better "double" check valve to prevent backflow of contaminated water into the house and municipal supply." How do YOU know that this company follows all code "Or have I been alarmed by the irrigation company needlessly?" Can you vouch for this company personally?

Quote:
I just am a little confused because the "consultant" who was in and told me about the old style valve, says that is the kind he has on his house.
Seems that the OP has a little doubt (or "confused", to quote) about the accuracy of the information he was given. OP should spend money to the contractor for something that the contractor doesn't use????

Quote:
You NEED a properly working backflow assembly on your irrigation system.
Quote:
Nope! If you have fertilizer injector in your irrigation system you need a Reduced Pressure Backflow Assembly (RPBA), or also known as a Reduced Pressure Zone Backflow Assembly (RPZ).
Quote:
I have a hard time understanding why you are telling people what they need in an area that is in another part of the country. Do you know exactly what the Water District needs are in OP's area? I sure don't, and I've been trained for installing, testing, and repairing of backflow assemblies. I also don't know where he lives. As far as I can tell, he hasn't told us. How can you know what his water by-law says if we don't know where he lives?
It seems to me that you have told the OP what he "needs" twice. How do you know?
Quote:
but you need to do more research
There's your "need to" again!

Quote:
It's dangerous and irresponsible to be telling some one that he needs a lower class type backflow device on his plumbing.
Can't find where I said anyone "needs" anything.

Quote:
The presumption is that you only have clean water in your house
This is unreasonable? Is there data anywhere to the contrary? This is making me thirsty. What to drink?

operagostQuote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Water Guy

The vacuum breaker is great for protecting a hose bibb, but not for an irrigation system.

Mick
Attachment 19683

That was suggested in the event he decided to just use a hose.

Quote:
If you have fertilizer injector in your irrigation system you need a Reduced Pressure Backflow Assembly (RPBA), or also known as a Reduced Pressure Zone Backflow Assembly (RPZ).

Do you know exactly what the Water District needs are in OP's area? I sure don't, ... I also don't know where he lives. As far as I can tell, he hasn't told us. How can you know what his water by-law says if we don't know where he lives?
So how do YOU know what he needs?

Quote:
Animal feces (bird, dog, cat, rabbit, squirrel), oil and fuel from vehicles, fertilizers, pesticides, poisons (rat, mouse, ant, termite) and one of my favorites, nematodes can all be found in the lawns and gardens of homes in North America.
Sounds like two good sales jobs going on here!

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