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What is NYC Backflow prevention and how to stay in compliance


All residential and commercial properties in New York City get water from the city’s water main at pressure and should only flow in one direction. Once the water enters any property’s water system, it should not flow back into the city’s water main since any contaminations in the property’s internal water distribution system can introduce chemicals or wastes into the city water supply. New York City Department of Environmental Protection(DEP) is the governing body to ensure the water supply is safe and clean. 

What is Backflow?

Backflow means reversal of flow of water from its intended direction either due to”backsiphonage or “backpressure”. These conditions in the water line cause the water to flow from customer’s fixtures back to the city’s main water supply. If there is any contiminations in the customer’s plumbing systems, they are now introduced into the water supply.

Backsiphonage is caused by negative pressure from a vacuum or a partial vacuum in the city’s water supply line. This negative pressure forces the water to flow backward. 

Backpressure occurs when the pressure in the city’s main water supply gets lower than any of the pressurized systems in the customer’s property such as boilers, elevated tanks, or recirculating systems. As an example, if the pressure in the boiler system is at 15-20 psi and if the supply pressure gets lower than this, then the water will flow back from the customer’s water piping into the city supply.


What is backflow

Types of properties required to install the backflow prevention devices


Large residential buildings, most commercial and mixed-use buildings, nursing homes, schools & colleges, supermarkets, laundromats and dry cleaners, restaurants and food prep facilities are some of the types of properties required to install the backflow prevention devices. A more exhaustive list can be found on the department of environmental protection’s website

Customers can also hire a registered architect or a professional engineer to assess and determine if a backflow prevention device is required for your property. 

Note that it is the property owner’s responsibility to determine if you are required to install the backflow prevention devices. For any specific questions about the requirements, you may call 311 and get directed to the right DEP department. DEP is also not responsible for the proper operation, installation, maintenance, or repair of any backflow prevention devices or the assembly.

If you are a property owner, review and understand the responsibilities noted below:

    • Installing special plumbing assemblies, known as BFP assembly on the water service pipe(s) that supply their property in compliance with CCC Code to protect the water supply system from any contaminants.
    • Making their properties accessible to DEP authorized representatives for inspection, at all reasonable times.
    • Providing DEP with any and all pertinent information concerning facilities, process, occupancy, water usage, existing BFP assemblies (if any), and other information as required by DEP.
    • Obtaining the approval of plans submitted to DEP before installing the BFP assembly(s), arranging for periodic testing of all containment BFP assemblies by an NYS certified BFP assembly tester, and submitting the Form GEN215B “Report of Test and Maintenance of Backflow Prevention Assembly” to DEP within 30 days of installation of assembly, and thereafter not exceeding one year from the date of the previous test.
    • Legalizing any existing containment BFP assembly in their property by submitting as-built plans.
    • Notifying DEP of any alterations may be set forth as pertaining to occupancy, water service(s), plumbing fixtures/equipment, and BFP assembly(s)’ status/operation in their property.
    • Installation, operation, modification, maintenance, repair, overhaul, replacement, and testing; as required; any and all containment BFP assemblies in their property, meeting or exceeding the approved standards.
    • Installing only those BFP assemblies approved by the USC-FCCCHR and in a manner that is approved by DEP and in compliance with New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) plumbing Code.
    • Installing all BFP assemblies in an area that provides a safe working environment, easily accessible, well-lit and heated, away from mechanical/electrical hazards,s and free from dirt for in-line testing and maintenance.
    • Not modifying, remodeling, or swapping any BFP assembly in any way without the pre-approval of DEP.
    • Attesting to the fact that no cross-connections will be permitted upstream of the BFP assembly(s) and not installing an unprotected bypass around any BFP assembly.
    • Ensuring that all drains and drain ports are clear and operating for all BFP assemblies.
    • Ensuring that all BFP assemblies have adequate security measures and are in good working condition.
    • Keeping the private water system in good repair and replacing any degraded plumbing connected to the city water supply. Containment assemblies do not remove the responsibility to use appropriate BFP methods.
    • Having the repair immediately if a BFP assembly needs repair before the annual test period.
    • Repair or replacement any BFP assembly which fails a test. Upon completion of the repair, replacement, or relocation; the BFP assembly(s) shall be retested to verify continuing satisfactory performance.
    • Correcting any malfunction or re-certifying with Form GEN215B improper installations until acceptable.
    • All internal cross-connection control, installation, testing, and maintenance of all internal BFP devices or assemblies as per DOB requirements. Required reports shall be filed with DOB utilizing Form OP129.
    • Working with their plumbing contractors for conducting periodic surveys of water use practices on their property to detect if there is an actual or potential cross-connection either in the utility water system or in their potable water system. Plumbing alterations may inadvertently create unprotected cross-connections.
    • The payment of all due costs of design, approvals, permits, installations, maintenance, overhaul, and testing.
    • Maintaining records for testing, repairs, and overhauls of all containment BFP assemblies on their property.


What is a Backflow Prevention Device

A backflow prevention device, also called an RPZ valve, prevents the flow of any water from a customer’s internal water distribution system or fixtures back to the city’s main water supply. Only Licensed Master Plumbers are allowed to install a backflow prevention device. A property may require more than one backflow prevention device depending on the number of water service lines, each water service line to the property must have one of these backflow prevention devices installed. 

RPZ Valve for a large commercial building

How to install a backflow prevention device

To install a backflow prevention device for your property, you must first hire a Registered Architect or a Professional Engineer to prepare the design for backflow prevention for your property. These designs must be submitted to DEP for approval. If the plans are approved, you must hire a Licensed Master Plumber to install the appropriate backflow prevention device.  At Neo Plumbing, we have a tie-up with several reputable Registered Architects and Professional Engineers who can help you with the design and approval backflow prevention plan for your property. 

Once the device is installed, a New York State certified backflow prevention device tester must test to ensure it is properly installed. Here at Neo Plumbing, we have trained and State Certified Backflow tester in our staff who can complete the test and submit the required paperwork. Once the device is tested, the certified testes must fill out the test form and have it signed by the licensed master plumber and the RA or PE who designed the plan. This signed test form must be submitted to the DEP within 30 days of installation.

On an ongoing basis, you are required to have it tested every 12 months by a certified tester. Failure to perform the annual test may result in fines or discontinuity of the water service. The test form must be completed by the certified tester and signed by a Licensed Master Plumber

At Neo Plumbing, we are licensed and insured and have in-house state-certified backflow testers to get the job quickly and efficiently. 

Call Neo Plumbing & Heating Corp or schedule online today.

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