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What are the dangers of drain and sewer back-ups?
Primary problems stemming from the defective functioning of a sewer system include serious health risks to humans caused by direct exposure to raw sewage and the great possibility of contaminating water supplies. A malfunctioning sewer system can also cause raw sewage to back up into plumbing fixtures and become present in a dwelling. Once this waste is exposed, the possibility of humans contracting any number of diseases is greatly multiplied. This is particularly true of children who do not yet understand the dangers of raw sewage.
Common Diseases Capable of Transmission from Sewage
  • Cholera Profuse watery stools, vomiting, rapid dehydration; if untreated may produce fatality rate of 50% plus.
  • Cryptosporidiosis More than 400,000 cases reported in one outbreak from contaminated drinking water; profuse diarrhea with mild nausea & vomiting.
  • Shigellosis Bloody diarrhea, cramps, vomiting; the severity of the illness and the possibility of death depend on the host.
  • Typhoid Prolonged fever, headaches, nausea, diarrhea; fatality rate as high as 10%, if untreated.
  • Infectious Hepatitis Fever, fatigue, headache, nausea, dark urine & jaundice; can impair liver function.
  • Amebiasis Fever, chills & bloody diarrhea; may also produce abscess of liver, lungs & brain.
  • The HIV virus has recently been detected in the raw wastewater of two communities. HIV appears capable of surviving for 2-3 days in raw sewage at room temperature, but may survive for more than 2 weeks in raw sewage at lower temperatures. Although the HIV virus may be found in raw sewage, the risk of becoming infected seems highly unlikely. Transmission would require puncture of the skin or contact with cuts or other damaged skin tissue.
Backflow Prevention
Congress established the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) in 1974 to protect human health from contaminants in drinking water and to prevent contamination of existing groundwater supplies. This act and its amendments (1986 and 1996) require many actions to protect drinking water and its sources.  One of these actions is the installation and maintenance of an approved backflow prevention assembly at the water service connection whenever a potential hazard is determined to exist in the customer’s system. Without proper protection devices, cross connections can occur.  
What is a cross connection?
A connection between your drinking water and another source of water that combines the two when a backflow condition occurs. When this occurs, your drinking water can become contaminated.
OK. So? What is backflow?
Backflow is when the water in your pipes (the pipes after the water meter) goes backward (the opposite direction from its normal flow). There are two situations that can cause the water to go backward (backflow):
* Backpressure – the pressure in your pipes is greater than the pressure coming in.  
* Backsiphonage – a negative pressure in one of the pipes.  
To protect the water system, two kinds of backflow prevention assemblies (devices that prevent the backflow of water) are required for all business customers that present a potential hazard.  
External – to protect the City’s water from cross connection with the water on the customer’s premises.  
Internal – to protect the customer from potentially hazardous cross connections in his own system.  
Pipe Insulation:
Pipe insulation will keep cold-water pipes from sweating in warm weather & will reduce heat loss from hot-water pipes too. This will help to reduce water usage and utility usage since the water can stay at a more constant temperature.   Making sure to insulate piping exposed to the cold or in attics before it gets cold will reduce the risk of frozen pipes when temperatures are at or below freezing.  Running a steady drop of hot or cold water from your faucets may help to keep your pipes from freezing, but smaller water piping can easily freeze with water running through them.   Polyethylene is the most common type of piping insulation which works well with pex, pvc, and   copper piping.  A low cost way to insulate hose bibs is by wrapping with newspaper and wrapping with a heavy duty trash bag, but you can also purchase insulating hose bib boxes at any home improvement store. 

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