Using your outside faucet? Protect your drinking water with a simple device

Many people pick up a weed and fertilizer treatment from a local home center store and hook it up to their garden hose to help grow a beautiful lawn. It may seem simple and safe, and most of the time it is. But there are times that the water in your hose, and the treatment it is attached to, could be reversed back from your hose into your drinking water supply.

Louisville Water cross connection expert John Ralston said that if you lose water pressure in your house, that pressure could be lower than the pressure in your hose. In this scenario, the water in your hose, and the treatment it’s attached to, might reverse course due to pressure and flow into your drinking water supply. That pressure drop in your house might be due to you using many water-using appliances at the same time, or something on our end, like a water main break. Either way, the best way to prevent this when using your garden hose is to screw in a hose bib vacuum breaker to your outdoor faucet.

“This vacuum breaker acts like a mini backflow preventer,” said Ralston. “When the pressure drops in the house for any reason, the vacuum breaker stops the water in your hose from reversing back.”

Ralston gives the same advice to those using window washing solutions and pressure washing attachments that hook up to a garden hose. He says that water can also reverse when a hose is left in swimming pools, hot tubs and water ponds to fill or refill them. He also suggests that whenever you are done using your hose, to turn off the water at the outdoor faucet rather than using a sprayer head attachment to stop the water flow. That way, the faucet is closed, and the water left in your hose won’t flow back into your drinking water if pressure drops.

“If a customer calls us and says their water tastes funny or smells weird, we always ask if they have been using their hose, and sometimes, that is the reason,” said Ralston. “They just didn’t know that could happen.”

Ralston says that you can find hose bib vacuum breakers at your local home center store. So next time you pick up lawn treatment, window washing solution, or pool accessories, pick up a hose bib vacuum breaker too. Your family, and Louisville Water, will appreciate it!