I Hate Backflow Valves

After replacing my backflow valve last spring I vowed to remove the entire valve in the fall so that it wouldn’t have any chance of freezing during the winter. Unfortunately, good intentions in spring are often forgotten when summer and fall roll around. Even though I turned off the water I forgot to remove the backflow valve. Yesterday (Friday) I turned on the water and checked the valve and it appeared to be fine – no major leaks of water. “Great!”, I thought, “I lucked out and survived the winter without freezing the valve”. Today Nancy was working outside and noticed that water was dripping off the valve. Not a major leak but just a slow drip drip drip. It turns out that 3 of the 4 testcocks on the valve had cracked.

Can you spot the crack?

Interestingly, each testcock had cracked in the exact same location – right in the middle of the “China” stamp. Read into that what you will. I got online and ordered three testcock replacements – at $8.00 each plus shipping it came to $30. Not great but better than $250 for a completely new valve. South Jordan requires these things be above ground which is really irritating. At $250 a valve and weighing 10lbs each they are often stolen for their bronze and copper salvage value (I was smart enough to put my valve in the back yard). In addition, the testcocks on the valve provide ready access for a terrorist or some other whacko to easily pump something back into the municipal water supply. In addition the RPZ (Reduced Pressure Zone) valves required by South Jordan are supposed to be tested every year by a certified tester at homeowner’s expense.

They’re also hard to keep from freezing. If I wait until the last spring freeze to turn the water on outside it would be well into May after Mother’s day. Unfortunately, plants need water in April in the desert – even if it may still freeze occasionally – so my only options are to constantly check the weather and shut the water on and off when a freeze is likely or to somehow try and insulate the valve above ground. If the valve was underground with a cover over it the April temperatures would be much less likely to freeze it.

I like living in South Jordan but the requirement to have an RPZ assembly 12″ above ground and inspected every year is just an artifact of South Jordan’s agricultural history (i.e. industrial fertilizers, farm animal waste, and field runoff) and is unnecessary for suburban residential developments (I’m also just mad at myself that I didn’t open the testcocks to drain the valve and keep it from freezing).


  1. wait – didn’t that thing freeze up last year? didnt you replace it last year? Or am I having some dejavu from a few decades ago when we had frozen backvalves?

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