BACKFLOW PREVENTER INSTALLATION COSTS
Almost every home in the United States has some form of sewage system (those that don’t are usually connected to a septic system, and even those have a pipe that runs sewage away from the home). In the vast majority of cases, this means being connected to a municipal sewer network, designed to collect sewage from individual homes and take them away to a centralized plant for processing.
While this is usually an efficient system, when it goes wrong it can be an extremely unpleasant experience. The most unpleasant outcome is usually ‘backflow,’ which refers to sewage being forced back up the pipe into a home. There are a number of different causes of this, but the end result is usually a flood or sewage water entering the lowest levels of your home. Aside from the general unpleasantness, this can cause a great deal of damage, both from the water as well as the biohazards present in the sewage.
One of the most common causes of backflow is flooding. High levels of rain – particularly in a short period of time – causes water to flood the sewage system, which functions like a flash flood. As the sewage system fills with water, it sends water and sewage back up the drainage pipes and into individual homes.
Although this is a relatively rare event, such is the damage it can cause that there is a range of technical devices you can install in your home to prevent it from happening.
WHAT IS A BACKFLOW PREVENTER?
The most common of these devices is a backflow preventer. These are relatively simple machines that are fitted to your home’s water pipes. They only permit fluids to flow in one direction through your pipes, sealing off your home against backflow, and thereby preventing sewage from entering your home. In addition, it can prevent your drinking water from becoming contaminated by sewage. All in all, it helps you maintain peace of mind that wastewater is only flowing away from your home, never towards.
Backflow preventers are extremely simple – they are a hinged flap installed in the wastewater pipe. As water flows in the correct direction (i.e. away from the house), the flap lies prone, allowing the water to flow over it without issue. However, if the flow changes direction and begins to go up the drainage slope, it will lift up the flap, thereby blocking off the pipe and preventing further flow. Only when the flow returns to the correct direction will the preventer lie down again.
The simplicity of this device is its real genius. They require no maintenance other than occasional inspection and allow you to ensure your home is secure from backflow. Installing one is very much preferable to dealing with the impact of sewage backflow. This guide will walk you through the costs involved in installing your own backflow preventer. The costs vary depending on type and size, although it is well worth the investment. Think of the cost as an insurance policy – well worth it when dealing with the alternative.
OF BACKFLOW PREVENTER INSTALLATION
THE OVERALL COST
Overall, for a backflow preventer and installation, you can expect to pay somewhere between $135 and $1,000, with the average cost being around $300.
This depends on the size and type of the system you have in your home, as well as your budget. A $135 installation is likely to be a fairly low-end model; a $1,000 installation represents a high-end option, in conjunction with a somewhat complex installation process, possibly in a large pipe system.
The cost of the device itself usually ranges from $35 to $600, again depending on the size of the system and the level of effectiveness you are looking for. Most devices are made of plastic, making them relatively cheap to manufacture. This also means that there is some economy of scale in case you need to install multiple devices (this will also apply to labor costs).
Generally, if you have older pipes, which are made of materials other than plastic, you will find it more difficult to install the backflow preventer, which will result in an increase in overall costs.
The labor for installation varies a great deal depending on where you are in the country (it is generally pegged to the overall cost of living, so urban areas are more expensive than rural areas, for example). However, it is likely that the labor will cost somewhere between $100 and $400.
Unlike other construction projects, installation of a backflow preventer is a fairly straightforward process, and most plumbers will charge a fixed fee to install, rather than an hourly rate. The work is usually completed in half a day or less, and will briefly involve shutting off the water to your home. However, this is the extent of the disruption.
The backflow preventer is usually accessed through the basement of your home, which should further help to minimize the disruption. Similarly, there is very little cleanup or damage that will take place, thereby ensuring that you are not inconvenienced as part of the installation process.
Other key factors involved in shaping the final cost are the size and type of the system you have in your home. Although there are myriad factors involved here, one of the main determinants of cost is the age of your pipe system. Older systems are trickier to fit, which will raise costs. Similarly, a large house will need a more robust preventer, which will increase the cost.
In addition to these essential factors in shaping the price, there are additional costs that you can choose to take on (or not) that will help shape the final bill. These are outlined below.
The below costs are all somewhat voluntary, meaning that you can choose to pay them or not. Where they are not optional, they may not be payable in every jurisdiction. Either way, they don’t count as central costs, and you will need to undertake research (in conjunction with a professional) as to whether they are applicable in your circumstances.
If you already have a backflow preventer or want to make extra sure that your new setup is working effectively, you can pay for a test. This involves a plumber pushing (clean) water through your system in the wrong direction, which will allow the backflow preventer to demonstrate whether it functions or not. This will usually cost somewhere between $20 to $100. If you choose to include it as part of your installation, it can be rolled into the overall costs, which may result in a discount.
In some municipalities, you may need a permit to install a backflow preventer. The reasoning behind this is that it can lead to leakages elsewhere in the system in case of a flood. The city, therefore, regulates who has backflow preventers in order to monitor the situation more closely. Your plumber or installer will be able to advise on whether this is the case. A permit will usually set you back $50.
Repairs to an Existing System
In some cases, you may have an existing backflow preventer that doesn’t work. If this is the case, it will usually end up being cheaper to repair than to install a totally new system. A plumber will usually run a check to see if there is a system in place before proceeding. They will usually charge somewhere between $50 and $150 to repair a system that has already been installed.
one of the problems with a backflow preventer is, once you’ve installed it, you don’t really think about it. Therefore, it can be difficult to perceive the benefits it provides. However, when there is flooding in your neighborhood, you’ll soon understand the advantages of a backflow preventer – particularly if your neighbor doesn’t have one installed. At that stage, the cost of installation will look relatively cheap.
THE SIMPLE ADDITION OF A SERIES OF VALVES
in the waste pipe of your home is – compared with other potential home improvements – a relatively easy sell. Unlike other contractor work, it’s unlikely to run you a bill of thousands of dollars, it won’t result in a great deal of work, noise, and disturbance, and the entire process takes less than a day.
On top of that, it requires little to no maintenance, other than the occasional inspection to ensure that it is in proper working order. And when the backflow happens, you’ll be infinitely grateful that you have one installed.
As a final motivator
it may also be the case that your home insurance won’t pay out if you don’t install a backflow preventer and then you experience a backflow surge. In those cases, the insurance company may regard you as negligent, and not having done the proper upkeep on your home.