Backflow Preventers for Business Costs


Old 07-17-19, 12:00 AM
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Angry Backflow Preventers for Business Costs

Hey all, I have a building in downtown Atlanta that my boss purchased more than 30 years ago. We just had the place inspected and they gave us several expensive but simple things to fix which we did promptly.

Then the Backflow Prevention Specialist from Watershed Management pays us a visit and claims we need to install backflow preventers in both of our water systems: sprinkler system and regular water for the bathrooms and kitchen.

We asked for a quote from the people who helped with the sprinkler maintenance and they gave us a quote for 5K. Everything I read online indicates it should not be that expensive.

And the 5k is just for the sprinkler side. We need to hire a plumber for the backflow preventer on the regular plumbing as well.

Can someone please tell me if I am getting the runaround? This sounds completely like a racket.

Also, there is some question about the possibility that the shutoff to our building is actually buried in the asphalt outside of the building. In other words, we may not be able to shut the water off to install the valve without digging up the street in front of our building.

Is there any way to request an exemption from having to install the backflow preventer? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 07-17-19, 04:17 AM
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We do not know the location of your business or what work is involved so we can't offer anything more than a wild guess. Your best option is to get quotes from multiple contractors. If they all fall within the same ballpark then I'd say that is a reasonable cost for doing the work.
Old 07-17-19, 04:27 AM
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Best way to establish the cost is to get multiple quotes. Have them quote both backflow devices and a main water shutoff in the house. Here in Connecticut the sprinkler backflow device must be tested annually by a licensed technician. Additional plumbing devices have to be installed to do this. This testing makes sense as the sprinkler water lines are usually drained before freezing temps arrive by pressurizing the water lines. Here, the remainder of the house doesn't require a backflow device so can't offer anything
Old 07-17-19, 02:47 PM
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I'd look for a good mechanical/plumbing contractor who is willing to come take a look and then ask them for a price meet local codes.
Old 07-17-19, 09:31 PM
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@Pilot Dane, you do know the location of my business. It's in Downtown Atlanta--about the 8th and 9th words in my post.

Regardless, thanks for the input. I am getting multiple quotes but I figured someone would be able to give me an idea within a significant digit--not looking for a literal or exact quote, just an idea if 5K for just the sprinkler side sounded right.

Thanks for the replies.
Old 07-18-19, 04:34 AM
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"Downtown Atlanta" is a big area. When working in a city the exact location it makes a huge difference in what other utilities they have to work around, possible street closures... If the work is going to be done under a vacant lot or parking lot on a queit side street it's one thing. If you have to close a major street or dig across sidewalks crossing other utilities... it's a whole other level of cost. Then, if your utilities are deeper then the workers will need trench collapse protection further adding to the cost. Heck, there could be considerable cost just in permits.
Old 07-18-19, 10:13 AM
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I don't have much experience with fire sprinkler systems, but based on current code, backflow preventers are required. I also know that everything fire sprinkler related is way more expensive than it seems like it should be. If it makes you feel better, I just googled fire system backflow preventers and it looks like most are in the $2500-$3500 range just for the part (obviously not knowing details about pipe size, flow, etc).

As far as I know none of the national codes (IPC/UPC) require backflow preventers on potable water, but Atlanta may have their own requirements. I'd imagine installation of a potable backflow preventer should be in the hundreds of dollars range. I'm sure you have a shutoff valve inside the building that the backflow preventer would be installed after - probably not requiring shutoff at the street.

In residential, many things like this can be grandfathered in, it was installed based on code at the time. Commercial though follows different rules, especially when it comes to renovations and life safety devices.
Old 07-22-19, 07:46 AM
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I'm in the Fire Sprinkler business. First off what size is the riser for the sprinkler system? You will also need 2 OS&Y control valves to be able to isolate the back flow device when it needs to be serviced. Have your sprinkler contractor add the yearly test and inspection of the new device to your sprinkler inspection schedule too. The fire marshal will now be looking for that report. 5K doesn't seem that high for adding a back flow to a sprinkler system, figure 2 guys a full day's work plus pipe & fitting and the device(s) them selves. It's not cheap, but you sure as he11 don't wan't sprinkler water in your drinking water.
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