You are on page 1of 4


The purpose of the atmospheric vacuum breaker is to prevent a siphon from allowing a contaminant or pollutant into the potable water system. This plumbing system safety valve is considered protection from high hazard or toxic substances, and may be used for low-hazard materials as well. There are three flow conditions for the atmospheric vacuum breaker. The user obtains water by opening a valve to the potable supply allowing water to flow through the device. The user will then close the potable water supply and the device will drain. Finally, if a siphon or loss of pressure occurs in the supply piping, the inlet valve will open allowing atmosphere into the outlet piping to prevent a reversal of flow or "backsiphonage" to the potable supply. To learn more about how the atmospheric vacuum breaker should be installed, CLICK HERE.


Normal Flow Condition This graphic displays the initial flow of water into the atmospheric vacuum breaker. The dual purpose check valve/air-inlet valve will begin to float as water enters the vacuum breaker body or chamber. As water pressure increases, this air-inlet valve will create a seal to the atmosphere for the system allowing water to flow toward the downstream use.

No-Flow Condition
This graphic displays the water supply being closed at the shut-off valve. Once closed, the water will flow from the outlet piping and atmospheric vacuum breaker body to the point of use. With the lowered internal pressure, atmospheric pressure will force the air-inlet valve open and allow atmosphere into the body and downstream piping.

Pressure Loss or Siphon

This graphic demonstrates the vacuum breaker operation with a loss of supply pressure resulting from a possible upstream demand, line break, or siphon (pressure lower than atmosphere) condition. As with the no-flow condition, the air-inlet valve opens, allowing atmospheric pressure into the downstream piping. The air-inlet valve becomes a check valve against a possible siphon or reverse flow of liquid from the outlet of the vacuum breaker.

has dedicated this page of our web site to the memory of Rosemary Sherer. Her devotion to education in the plumbing industry was perhaps second to none. For those who knew Rosemary, she was an inspiration and practitioner of "Prevention Rather Than Cure." She will be missed. Her memory and spirit will continue. (January 1998)

Send mail to with questions or comments about this web site. Copyright 1996-2002 SFA Enterprises, Inc. - Drinking Water & Backflow Prevention magazine, Northglenn, Colorado USA