RPZ Valves

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RPZ valves: RPZ Valve Testing, Installation & Maintenance

Integrated Compliance Services are a leading water hygiene services provider. As part of the comprehensive water hygiene & Compliance services we specialise in; our RPZ valve services include RPZ valve installation, RPZ maintenance and RPZ valve testing. RPZ testing should be carried out yearly.

You may require RPZ valve services as a part of yearly maintenance, after identification is required within a Legionella risk assessment, or as part of Legionella remedial works. Below, we have put together a guide to help you understand more about installation, testing and maintenance of RPZ valves and what to expect during RPZ testing.

What are RPZ valves?

An RPZ valve is a backflow device which is used in water systems. RPZ means Reduced Pressure Zone. An RPZ device is usually installed onto plumbing systems to protect the water we drink and rid it of impurities and pollution. The reason water can become contaminated is because when there is a backflow of water, there is then a risk of pollution because the water is allowed to flow back into the system where it came from.

RPZ valves are the safest and most reliable backflow prevention available.

What is Backflow of water?

Backflow of water is simply water flowing back into the system from which it originated. This can happen for a number of reasons including loss of water pressure in the plumbing system. Backflow of water poses one of the biggest risks of contamination to the mains water supply.

An RPZ valve is a cost-effective type of backflow protection device that prevents this from happening. Backflow can happen for a variety of reasons but the main reason is when there is a reduction of pressure and this pressure reduction allows contaminated water to enter into the drinking water supply. Reduced pressure zone valve assemblies are used to protect water supplies from contamination and pollution.

In some cases, if someone is using a large amount of water on the ground floor of a building water can be sucked back from the upper floors, this is known as backflow and will require the installation of an RPZ valve.

Installation

Commissioning and testing of an RPZ valve must be carried out by a Qualified and WRAS approved tester. Our team of Engineers are fully trained, WRAS approved and highly skilled in identifying corrective maintenance which might be required whist on site.

There are various methods which can be used in order to test RPZ valve assemblies. Our engineers are competent with all approaches. Integrated Compliance Services also ensures that all reporting and recording procedures are carried out.

How often do I need RPZ valve testing?

RPZ valve testing and maintenance should be carried out at least every 12 months. At Integrated Compliance Services, our qualified engineers carry out yearly testing. They also install new RPZ valves where appropriate. If you are unsure of which RPZ valve service you require, please contact the team for advice.

Annual testing

Water companies are required to monitor all RPZ valve installations in their designated water supply area. RPZ valve assemblies must be tested and certificated on an annual basis and our team of engineers at Water Hygiene Services are qualified to do this. You must then submit the certificate to your local water authority.

FAQ’s

As a landlord, what are my duties?

The legal duty for landlords who provide residential accommodation to consider, assess and control the risks of exposure to Legionella to their tenants is not new. This requirement stems from the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1989; Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 makes provision for the legislation to apply to landlords of both business and domestic premises. All water systems require an assessment of the risk which they can carry out themselves if they are competent, or employ somebody who is.

In most residential settings, a simple assessment may show that the risks are low and no further action may be necessary. (An example of a typical lower risk situation may be found in a small building (eg housing unit) with small domestic-type water systems, where daily water usage is inevitable and sufficient to turn over the entire system; where cold water is directly from a wholesome mains supply (no stored water tanks); where hot water is fed from instantaneous heaters or low volume water heaters (supplying outlets at 50 °C); and where the only outlets are toilets and wash hand basins). If the assessment shows the risks are low and are being properly managed, no further action is needed but it is important to review the assessment regularly in case anything changes in the system.

Simple control measures can help control the risk of exposure to legionella such as:

  • flushing out the system prior to letting the property
  • avoiding debris getting into the system (eg ensure the cold water tanks, where fitted, have a tight fitting lid)
  • setting control parameters (eg setting the temperature of the calorifier to ensure water is stored at 60°C)
  • make sure any redundant pipework identified is removed.

Tenants should be advised of any control measures put in place that should be maintained eg not to adjust the temperature setting of the calorifier, to regularly clean showerheads and to inform the landlord if the hot water is not heating properly or there are any other problems with the system so that appropriate action can be taken. If there are difficulties gaining access to occupied housing units, appropriate checks can be made by carrying out inspections of the water system, for example, when undertaking mandatory visits such as gas safety checks or routine maintenance visits.

Where showers are installed, these have the means of creating and dispersing water droplets which may be inhaled causing a foreseeable risk of exposure to legionella. However, if used regularly (as in the majority of most domestic settings) the risks are reduced but in any case, tenants should be advised to regularly clean and disinfect showerheads. Instantaneous electric showers pose less of a risk as they are generally coldwater-fed and heat only small volumes of water during operation.

It is important that water is not allowed to stagnate within the water system and so there should be careful management of dwellings that are vacant for extended periods (eg student accommodation left empty over the summer vacation). As a general principle, outlets on hot and cold water systems should be used at least once a week to maintain a degree of water flow and minimise the chances if stagnation. To manage the risks during non-occupancy, consideration should be given to implementing a suitable flushing regime or other measures such as draining the system if it is to remain vacant for long periods.

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