Backflow check valve necessity?

Durring renovations of my home eight years ago, my contractor installed a water backflow prevention valve on my water heater. I think he told me it was required by code at the time, so I didn't think anything of it. All these years later, my wife and I keep trying to find a shower head that gives us enough pressure to take good showers with the reduced hot water pressure that is caused by this backflow preventer valve. We are tired of it. After reading that it is typically required by cities to prevent water from flowing back into the main water supply of a city after entering your house, I question it's necessity since I live in the country and get my water from a well. My water pressure setting on my well is 50 -80psi (cut in/ cut out). I also am experiencing frequent releases of hot water our of the pressure relief fitting on the tank, which is directed outside. I read that the backflow preventer could be causing this and isn't a desireable thing. So, my question is if it would be considered okay to simply remove the backflow preventer valve from my water heater, thus eliminating the high pressure releases from my water heater pressure relief valve, and also allowing full well tank pressure through the water heater tank and out my shower head? Thanks for any help.
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As you state, they are required by code on the city water system. I have no idea what your local codes are. They are also used on sprinkler systems to prevent sucking in lawn chemicals in the event of a pressure loss.
I theory, the backflow device is protecting your system in the same manner as the city system. Personally, I'd take it out if it was a problem. I don't know anyone that has ever heard of a contamination problem caused by residential backflow.
At work, we have one on our main water line coming into the building, but they still make us have on on boiler feeds since they are pressurized.
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If the tank is releasing water, it should have an expansion tank in the line to prevent this. It is either missing or not working. As the cold watr heats up, it expands and has to go somewhere. If you have a backflow valve inline, the water can not go anywhere as it expands and builds presure so it goes out the relief valve.
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As an adult, I've lived in two places with pump water and one with city water, all in Florida. Never had a backflow preventer anywhere in any of the systems. I suppose the idea is that heating the water might increase the pressure enough to push it back into the water main. Would have to push a lot of water in most cases, and would not apply at all to an isolated, single-family system.
My sister's house (used to be our parents' house when they were alive) has a backflow preventer at the street, and it requires annual inspection. The reason is that there is also a pump on the property, which for nearly 50 years was the water supply for the house. The pump now only supplies the water-modulated heat exchanger for the heat pump. That system is completely isolated from the city water system. However, it seems a reasonable precaution to require the backflow preventer in that situation.
Edward
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On 11/21/2010 9:07 PM, Michael wrote:

You don't need it.
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Steve Barker
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<snip>
As I understand it a backflow preventer valve prevents water from flowing back towards its source, but it should not prevent flow in the direction of the user. Either the valve is plugged up from frequent use (and minerals), or the showerhead has a flow restrictor or 2 preventing full flow to the showerhead. I would look first for flow restrictors in the showerhead and faucet valves to it, then (if that isn't enough) to replacing the backflow valve.
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Han
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A good backflow preventer should not reduce the pressure. I have a 3/4 one on my sprinkler system and I have branches with 3 and 4 sprinkler heads on them. If it is too small it could be a flow restriction and that may be what you are experiencing. A larger diameter one should solve that. As others have poited out any sort of check valve on the water supply to the hw heater should also include an expansion tank. Some code may require it even on a well. The problems started showing up with efforts to reduce energy usage. People turned down their hw temp and there is stuff that will grow in hw if it's not too hot. Pressure drop on the cold side can draw water out of the hw tank in reverse and you end up drinking it. It's really not much of an issue for the other water customers as it's about impossible to end up with a backflow situation that is so bad that water from a hw tank ends up all the way back out in the street. But that is often cited as the reason for the code anyway.
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minerals),

check for clogged shower head, remove flow restrictor, and my favorite wierd problem.........
if you have a sprayer on a hose replace the entire assembly.
the hoses interior sometimes detoriates and flow will be obstructed. symptom great initial flow but quickly drops.
its a realtive of bad brake hoses causing the caiper to stick on burning out shoes and rotors.
the rubber inside line acts like a check valve....
i had both the shower low flow, and stuck caliper in same week. at least found both in same week, the problems had been going on forever....
its not a bad idea to cycle all valves close and open a couple times with shower full on and showerhead removed in case dirt is clogging a valve.
you could also have a bad shower control valve espically the temp control type...
they can cause low flow
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If it is restricting the flow, it must be really gunged up, and not functioning anyway. I'd put the next size larger in there to insure flow, sweat the larger reducing couplings on there, to get down to the original sized line, and then SharkBite the whole new assembly into the old line. A one way is not a bad idea, and would prevent major disaster if the water ever did go backwards for any reason, and had gunge in it, and if it is code, it would at least be done right, although, who's going to check it?
Steve
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Since he is on a well the possibility of it getting clogged up are pretty good. I vote for just taking the thing out. Replacing it with a good filter may not be a bad idea.
Jimmie
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Michael wrote:

What makes you think it is the check valve that keeps you from having an invigorating shower and not the government mandated low flow shower head itself?
--

dadiOH
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Might be interesting to install a decent pressure gage on the shower outlet to establish the true operating water pressure. A reading close to the well settings would indicate that supply lines to the shower are adequate and that the problem then is lack of an expansion tank. After installing one, the readings will be much more uniform.
Joe
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i once found a ball valve that was stuck it refused to close ..... after closing and reopening the shower flow increased dramatically.
my theory was debris were somehow jammed at the ball valve....
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