Which backflow cover is equipped to avoid damage from freezing, vandalism and tampering?
You may receive a rendering calling out some generic backflow cover or “hot box.” Now you’re likely going to have to research and specify some sort of backflow cover solution. As you inquire of colleagues and search online, you’ll find plenty of them. Bags, cages, fake rocks, stock aluminum and fiberglass enclosures for common applications like above-ground valves, today’s engineer has a wide range of options to consider.
The American Society of Sanitary Engineering created the ASSE 1060 Standard in 1996. There are five main aspects of a protective industrial backflow cover which the ASSE determined were important.
A manufacturer submits its products to the ASSE to be tested in a lab thereby earning a stamp of approval. Typically, a design engineer will be sure to note that any backflow preventer enclosures must be ASSE 1060 certified. However, that specification is still missing something as most municipalities need a certain class of enclosure. Here's how to tell what you need.
So, let’s look at what it takes for a product to become ASSE 1060 approved.
A BACKFLOW COVER Provides Freeze Protection
If your town ever gets frost or snow, you want to make certain your backflow cover is ASSE 1060 Class 1 approved and contains a heater. A class 1 protective cover has been thoroughly tested to ensure it will maintain 40° Fahrenheit in as low as -30° Fahrenheit weather.
The backflow cover is also placed in an environmental chamber to test freeze protection. The box environmental chamber replicates the conditions an enclosure may incur during a harsh winter. To pass, a heated backflow cover must maintain an internal temperature of at least 32°F (0° C) and an average of 40°F (4.4°C) in as low as -30° weather. So, if you live in a climate where winters are long and temps are cold, the ASSE 1060 class 1 will provide the freeze protection you need.
The map to the right shows the average winter temperatures for the United States.
All of the areas shaded with purple hues have average temperatures below 32° and would certainly require freeze protection. The areas on the map that are blue have average temperatures above freezing, but will sometimes fall below 32°. It's highly likely those areas would need full freeze protection as well.
An ASSE 1060 Class 2 backflow cover provides frost protection. This means they can be used in areas that reach temperatures as low as 33° Fahrenheit.
If your municipality sometimes falls below that, you could end up with a frozen backflow preventer and huge problems. The frost protection comes from a backflow cover that is insulated. This insulation is measured by R-value. A backflow cover contains rigid foam insulation, while others use polyisocyanurate board insulation, which has the highest R-value per inch of any rigid board insulation.
WHICH BACKFLOW COVER OFFERS THEFT PROTECTION?
Class 3 covers do not offer much if any protection from cold or otherwise inclement weather. They have not been built for or tested to maintain a certain temperature in cold or freezing conditions. Typically, an ASSE 1060 Class 3 backflow cover is only used to protect equipment from thieves, vandals, and accidents. There are only a few municipalities in the United States that can utilize these types of backflow covers without problems.
Get The backflow cover you need
Of course, an ASSE 1060 Class 1 backflow cover will be more expensive than one with less protection. However, this is a pay me now or pay me later situation. The pay me later ends up being much more expensive. Not only will you end up needing to buy a backflow cover heater eventually, but the water supply could be interrupted when the backflow preventer freezes. That can cost several thousand dollars without even considering the downtime.
A replacement backflow assembly won't just be sitting on a shelf at home depot or even the local waterworks supply house - they usually need to be ordered. Don't get stuck with a frozen backflow preventer next winter. Choose the backflow cover with the protection your municipality needs.
It’s surprising, but many engineers and water jurisdictions know little about ASSE backflow cover certification. Safe-T-Cover believes this standard plays an important role in the safety of clean drinking water.