Irrigation backflow

Discussion in 'Irrigation / Sprinkler Forum' started by Cygarbuff, Mar 20, 2010.

  1. Cygarbuff

    Cygarbuff New Member

    Messages:
    19
    Location:
    Tewksbury, Ma
    I had a sprinkler system installed last year in Mass. I turned on the system yesterday and the pipe that comes out of the house that goes into the backflow blew. Water was going everywhere including through the hole in my house they used to run the pipe through to the outside. I thought that was supposed to be sealed. Anyway back to the pipe, when I went outside the seal broke and not the pipe. I had a plumber look at it and he said the installation was wrong as they solder a street 90 copper into the backflow that is 1" threaded. I was told a male adapter was supposed to go into the female threaded of the backflow and those two straight copper pieces should have been solder and not a straight to a threaded. Is this true? I have a picture but can't seem to upload on here but can email it to anybody who would like to see. I called my GC, plumber, irrigation company and they are all pointing the finger at each other. I was told it's not more of a warranty issue than an improper installation. I still don't understand why the town inspector signed off on it. Any information anyone can give me would help me if I have a say or fight in this. They are saying they aren't sure they can get the solder out of the threads of the backflow and I might have to purchase a new one but I don't see why I should inherit that cost as I paid for it once already 10 months ago. Thank you for any help.
  2. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,510
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    They would have to have completely disassembled that BFP to solder directly into the threaded ports without damaging the rubber and plastic components. Even if they did not, it will have to be done now in order to heat the valve body. The solder will come out of the threads once the valve is reheated. At the very worst, rather than buy a new BFP, I would flux both the male and female threads and then screw them together while the solder is molten, and then just solder the joint closed. Finally, put the valve back together. As far as responsibility, the initial responsibility is with the incompetent plumber, but it goes up the line to whoever hired him, (i.e., the irrigation contractor), and then whoever hired that person/company, (possibly the general contractor). YOU should not have to pay, or buy, ANYTHING. If the valve was damaged for any reason, and I would suspect heating would have caused problems, that is the installer's problem, not yours.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2010
  3. Fireguy97

    Fireguy97 Irrigation Contractor

    From the sounds of it, the person that is responsible for the poor installation is the person that installed (soldered) the backflow prevention assembly. The problem with the pipe failure is a different story. I would also find out if the same person is the one that installed the street 90. Here in British Columbia plumbers don't want to have anything to do with irrigation systems. They provide a plumbed stub out of the house. Everything after that is the responsibility of the irrigation contractor including the backflow prevention assembly. Different jurisdictions have different plumbing codes. Who pulled the permit on the installation? I would love to see a picture of what happened and of the backflow preventer.

    Was it copper pipe going to the backflow preventer? Was the pipe going through your foundation? If the answer to both of those questions is yes, then what is your foundation made up or? Concrete, Block, Wood, Stone? Copper pipe should never, ever be in contact with concrete or concrete products. They will rot away the copper pipe, and should always be in a sleeve. You will also get abrasion with the vibration of the water going through the pipe.

    In my installations, I get a licensed plumber to install pipe through the foundation for my stub. I supply a piece of PVC pipe for the sleeve.

    Mick
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2010
  4. Cygarbuff

    Cygarbuff New Member

    Messages:
    19
    Location:
    Tewksbury, Ma
    Thanks for the responses guys. I do have a picture if you have an email address for me to send it to but I can't figure out how to upload it on this site. I would love for you guys to check it out and see it. A picture is worth a thousand words. In Mass I've found out that the plumber brings the copper outside the house into the back flow and then the irrigation company takes it from there. The plumber ran it from inside the house through the side of my house(wood) and into the backflow. Not through concrete but a few inches above the foundation. Now I know why I was getting monster bugs in my basement, through the hole he drilled for the pipe but never sealed afterwards. Wouldn't the town plumbing inspector need to sign off on the backflow installation or does that depend on the town and state? I just feel like I should not have to repay for this 10 months after I paid to have it installed. The plumber from what I hear is no longer a plumber so it would have to fall on the GC that was on this project at the time of the backflow install, right?





    Attached Files:

  5. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,510
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    At least you don't have to worry about having the "plumber" come back and fix it, because that was NOT done by a plumber. At least not a competent one. That is something that even a handyman would not have done. But then he also ran PVC or some other type of plastic directly up to the outlet, without protecting it from direct sunlight, so that side will eventually fail also.
  6. BRD

    BRD New Member

    Messages:
    53
    Location:
    northeast
    Wow, I've seen everthing now!. I can't for the life of me figure why they would solder a connection when there are threads for a male adapter????. It looks to me from the picture that it is a pressure vacuum breaker device backflow unit. If it were mine I would unthread that ball valve and replace with another, then plumb the copper to the backflow with the proper male adapter and tighten the unit on. Of course the poly pipe connection on the outlet side will have to be disconnected so you can thread the unit on. I agree with the other posts that this is not something you should have to pay one dime for. The person who made the connection is on the hook. This is a terrible hook-up by unqualified people. Also, if the system worked through out last summer, you have to wonder if it was winterized correctly in the fall and does it have the proper drains to allow for complete evacuation of the water from the copper pipe and the backflow device. A drain at the bottom of the device is recommended.
  7. Fireguy97

    Fireguy97 Irrigation Contractor

    That might be fine and dandy, but don't forget to include that the replacement has to the EXACT manufacturers replacement part for this assembly, otherwise the device will fail the test, and then will have to be replaced yet again. You can't just replace the number one shut off (ball valve) with any ball valve. Backflow assemblies don't work that way.

    Cygar, as hj said in an earlier quote, who did you actually contract and pay. Did you contract the plumber yourself? If you paid the General to 'get the job done', the it's his problem. If you are the one that paid the plumber, then it's your problem. You are right though, you shouldn't have to pay twice.

    That is a different problem might have been caused by this, but a good irrigation contractor would have caught the fault on blow out. But then again, you don't blow high pressure air through a backflow prevention assembly either, you drain it and blow out after the assembly.

    Mick
  8. BRD

    BRD New Member

    Messages:
    53
    Location:
    northeast
    Sorry, I was not real clear on my post. Yes, Fireguy is correct that the replacement ball shut off should be the manufacturers brand. It could otherwise fail any inspection/test.
  9. Cygarbuff

    Cygarbuff New Member

    Messages:
    19
    Location:
    Tewksbury, Ma
    Thanks for all the advice guys. It was my GC that hired this plumber. Let me clarify that, my first GC I had to fire originally hired this plumber. I just found out he found him on Craigslist for $40 and hour now apparently he installs cable television. I never knew a plumber really needed to advertise on Craigslist and always thought they made more than $40 an hour. If I only had this knowledge earlier. So after firing this GC the new GC kept him on, maybe for budget reasons. So to answer the question he was employeed by my GC as we paid our GC for everything. The house is new construction and the irrigation system was just one component of what he was doing on this project. I see know that I have to go after the GC for this. All of the information you guys have gave me is much appreciated and allows me to be more sure on this and talk more confident. Thanks again.
  10. Fireguy97

    Fireguy97 Irrigation Contractor

    Cygar,
    Doesn't sound like your job was a happy one. Sorry to hear that. Good luck with this. Let us know what happens.

    Check your PM

    Mick
  11. johnjh2o1

    johnjh2o1 Plumbing Contractor for 49 years

    Messages:
    1,143
    Location:
    South*East
    Actually the only requirement on the ball valve is that it must be full port.

    John
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