PRESSURE VACUUM BREAKER QUESTION

My water sprinkler system guy tells me that my "Pressure Vacuum Breaker" may have to be replaced. Unknown to me, it has been leaking. He tells me this is a "backflow" device that keeps the irrigation water separated from the home-use water. This concerns me from a heath perspective. Can the two water supplies mix if the backflow is not working properly? He say it costs about $200 (including labor) to replace the entire device. Is this price reasonable? Would appreciate responses from posters familiar with such systems and this backflow device. Thanks in advance -- Brian.
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I'm not a plumber and I don't know what a backflow preventer costs, but in downstate NY, plumbers and electricians get around $150+tax for a service call, so it doesn't sound unreasonable to me
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BrianInNY wrote:

Yes, there can be a real danger if the sprinkler system is fed from the domestic water supply.
Helpful .pdf here: http://www.src4.org/ed/PNWS-3.pdf
It's also possible that the mfr of the valve offers a repair kit, better than replacement usually.
Jim
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wrote:

I replaced mine; similar to this one *. The cost was around $60.00 for the valve. Can you install it and save the $200.00?
*
http://www.cjjstore.com/store/images/Febcowithunionsbreakoutmed.gif
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These valves have metal exteriors and plastic working parts. I know of one which failed and needed replacement. The replacement plastic parts kit, from a nearby ACE Hardware, slipped right in at a cost of less than $50. No metal needed replacement (i.e. no soldering, cutting, etc). In fact, if the fellow who did the job had had stronger fingers, he wouldn't have needed tools either.
Of course, in my town it is illegal for anyone but a licensed and certified plumber to adjust or do any type of maintenance on these devices.
Backflow devices protect the municipal water supply from contamination by any chemicals sitting around on your lawn if and when a vacuum is produced in the municipal water pipes. The most common cause of such a vacuum would be a fire department Pumper hooked up to a nearby hydrant.
Regards -J
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