A backflow preventer is a crucial part of protecting your clean drinking water. This device prevents contaminated water from the ground and other undesirable areas from entering your pipes. Many Florida municipalities require that all homes have a backflow preventer installed, and that it receives yearly inspection from a licensed plumber.
Unfortunately, homeowners and businesses have had to endure a rash of thefts of backflow prevention devices in recent years. In some areas of Florida, up to 30 backflow preventers are stolen a month from a single major street.
Why is backflow preventer theft a major problem?
Aside from the expense involved in installing a new device after one is stolen, the loss of a backflow preventer causes water to flow freely from a pipe after it is removed. This results in a huge waste of water that is not only expensive, but risks flood damage to property. The thieves are not only causing problems for homeowners, they are putting the public supply of drinking water at risk.
Why would somebody steal a backflow preventer?
It sounds odd that thieves would target a piece of plumbing. However, backflow preventers offer a tempting target because they contain valuable copper and brass in their assemblies. The prices of both metals has risen in recent years because of a shortage in the U.S., making them tempting targets for criminals. Thieves can reap high profits from reselling the metal in backflow preventers to scrap yards.
How does backflow preventer theft occur?
Most thieves use metal saws to remove backflow preventers. But there are even more simple and brute-force ways of removing these valuable components from outside your home, such as tying a chain to the preventer, attaching the other end of the chain to a car, and then driving away to rip it off.
What can be done to prevent this theft?
Police advise that residents and business owners purchase a security cage with a lock on it to protect their backflow preventers. To help make the parts less appealing to thieves, police also suggest that homeowners paint the device with black or brown paint. This makes the parts less valuable at scrapyards and harder to resell as if they were new. In addition to steps to protect their own backflow preventers, people are encouraged to call the police should they witness metal theft occurring anywhere in their neighborhood.
If you experience theft of a backflow preventer, you should first inform the police. Then call for service from Modern Plumbing Industries, Inc. for professional installation of a new device. We can also help you with maintenance for the unit to make sure that it is doing its job of keeping your drinking water healthy.