Testing a backflow assembly can be an overwhelming process- especially if things start to go wrong in the very beginning. One important method can save the tester time, embarrassment and frustration. If performed properly at the beginning, it can set the stage for a smooth and successful test. This method is referred to as
Notify, Identify, Inspect, and Observe (NIIO)
. Let’s break down each part one at a time.
The first step when performing a backflow assembly test is to notify the occupants and owner that the water will be shut off for a short period of time. This allows the occupants to make arrangements if necessary and alert employees. If the assembly is installed on a fire sprinkler system, the fire department and the owner’s alarm monitoring company must also be contacted. No one wants firemen to show up at their test as soon as they close the shutoff valves because the fire sprinkler system went into alarm.
Next, it is important to identify the type of assembly you are testing. This may sound pretty self-explanatory, but you would be surprised at how many people try testing a reduced pressure backflow assembly (RPBA) as a double check valve assembly (DCVA) simply because of improper identification. Remember to check the identification tag on the assembly for make, model, size and serial number.
The third step is to inspect the assembly for the required components. All parts include upstream and downstream shutoff valves and test cocks. Record any non-factory parts that have been installed on your test report form. Remember to check
USC’s List of Approved Backflow Prevention Assemblies
with approved replacement and alternate shut-off valves. If a component is not listed, it is not approved for use in that assembly. Notify the owner and the water purveyor of an improper assembly.
Finally, observe the area around the assembly for signs of leakage. If water, mold or damp spots exist, the assembly may need repair. Further testing will yield more information. Further inspect the installation for unsafe conditions. Make sure the assembly is not installed in an area where water discharge or leakage would create a hazard, like near electrical equipment. It is the responsibility of the tester to note on the test report form any information that would make a backflow assembly not adequate for its purpose.
Spending a few minutes at the beginning of a test to
the components, and
the surroundings can save a lot of time and aggravation. It is always better to do it right the first time instead of having to explain to an owner why the fire department is present. Take time to execute the
method whenever testing a backflow assembly to ensure proper results.
Authored by Richard Wagoner, Washington Certification Services