RPZ devices may be among the least known plumbing devices out there, but they are also extremely important.
RPZ (which stands for Reduced Pressure Zone) devices protect your drinking water and municipal water supply from contamination, bacteria and pollution. That is why many states and municipalities – including Illinois – require RZP devices for certain plumbing applications. In Illinois, you need an RPZ valve if your house or building has any of the following:
- Large boiler (over 200,000 Btuh)
- Irrigation system
- Fire suppression system
- Manufacturing equipment connected to the water supply
Contaminants from these systems can enter your drinking water or municipal water supply when reduced pressure exists in the piping that carries water for them. Reduced pressure could be the result of a water leak in the house, a break in building water service, a municipal water main break, or fire hydrant flushing. It could even be caused by uneven water use from one neighborhood to the next.
If any of those events occur, the water pressure in the house of city water supply can drop lower than the water pressure in the above systems. This can cause potentially contaminated water from the above systems to back up into the main water supply. When the water pressure drops, the RPZ valve opens up and dumps the water out and away from your drinking water and municipal water supplies, rather than allowing it to backflow into those supplies.
Also note that Illinois law requires that you have your RPZ device tested annually. Only a licensed plumber with a Cross Connection Certification License can test and certify the proper operation of an RPZ valve. Once the RPZ is tested, the certification paperwork is forwarded by the plumber to the city.
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