Vacuum Breakers for waterlines in plumbing systems are nothing new. However in resent years vacuum breakers have been made standard code for plumbers to install on outside taps.
What is a Vacuum Breaker?
A Vacuum Breaker is a device that is either threaded on to an outside tap or can built in to your outside tap if you purchase a frost free hydrant with a vacuum breaker built in. What the vacuum breaker does is prevents contamination to the public water drinking system if the pressure drops from the line feeding your house. So basically if the water supply feeding your house drops in pressure, the water supply line will start to pull the water out of your house’s waterlines because the pressure in your home waterlines is greater than the waterline feeding the house.
How does a Vacuum Breaker prevent Contamination?
Contamination can occur if a faucet or outside tap has no air gap in it from a contaminated water source. For example a garden hose attached to an outside tap without a vacuum breaker that is left in a puddle of water will pull that water from the hose and from the puddle into your house’s drinking water supply lines because the negative pressure created from the waterline feeding your house from the city or well dropping in pressure creating a vacuum. If you install a vacuum breaker on that outside tap than if there is a pressure drop and a vacuum occurs the negative pressure will open the vacuum breaker and break the negative pressure, not allowing the outside tap to pull water through the garden hose and keeping contaminated water out of your homes waterlines.
How do I put a Vacuum Breaker on my Outside Taps
There are two ways to install a vacuum breaker on your outside taps. The first way is to purchase a new frost free hydrant with a vacuum breaker built into it. The second way is to purchase a vacuum breaker that threads on to your existing outside tap. You can purchase these off Ebay cheap and they are as simple as threading on a garden hose. I would strongly suggest putting vacuum breakers on your outside taps to make sure your drinking water is protected against contamination.