Cross Connections

Did you know…

Your water can become contaminated if connections to your plumbing system are not properly protected? The purpose of the local Cross Connection Program, as required by the Illinois Plumbing Code and local regulations, is to ensure everyone in the community has safe, clean drinking water.

It’s Public Safety…

To avoid contamination, backflow preventers are required by the Illinois Plumbing code wherever there is an actual or potential hazard for a cross connection.  Cross Connection Control Program involving public education, onsite inspections, and possible corrective actions by building owners.

What is Cross Connection?

A cross connection is an actual or potential connection between the safe drinking water (potable) supply and source of contamination or pollution. State plumbing codes require approved backflow prevention devices, assemblies, or the methods to be installed at every point of potable water connection and use. Cross Connections must be properly protected or eliminated.

How does contamination occur?

When you turn on a faucet, you expect the water to be as safe as when it left the treatment plant. However, certain hydraulic conditions left unprotected within your plumbing system may allow hazardous substances to enter and contaminate your own drinking water or even the public water supply. Water normally flows in one direction to your faucet. However, under certain conditions, water can actually flow backwards; this is known as backflow. There are two situations that can cause backflow: back siphonage and back pressure.

Back Siphonage: May occur due to a loss of pressure in the municipal water supply such as from a water main break.
Back Pressure: May occur when a source (such as a boiler) creates a greater pressure than incoming water pressure

In the Bathroom — and Shower

  • Bathtub faucet outlet must be at least 1” above the top rim of the tub or sink
  • Handheld shower head must have approved backflow prevention. ASSE 1014 or ASMI 112.18.1 will be stamped on the fixture.
  • If the hand held shower has no ASSE 1014 or ASME 112.18.1 stamp or cannot be proven compliant, it must be at least 1” above the tub when hanging freely. If it is too long it may be shortened if possible or must be replaced. When purchasing a new handheld shower be sure it is marked with the proper ASSE 1014 or ASME 112.18.1 number.


  • Faucet outlet must be at least 1” above the top of the tub rim.

In the Bathroom — Toilet Tanks

  • There are many unapproved toilet tank fill valve products sold at common retailers which do not meet the state plumbing code requirements for backflow prevention.
  • Look for the ASSE #1002 number on the valve assembly.
  • Replace any unapproved valve assemblies.
  • Verify the new assembly is stamped with ASSE 1002 number.
  • Verify overflow tube is 1” below the critical level (CL) marking on the valve assembly.
  • Verify there is a 1” air gap between fill tube and overflow tube. Many fill tubes are mounted directly into the overflow tube. Clips can be purchased at local hardware stores that will raise the hose up to create the proper gap.

In the Kitchen

  • Kitchen sink faucet must be at least 1” above the top of the sink.
  • If there is a hand sprayer it must have approved back flow prevention built into it. An ASSE #1025 or an ASMI 112.18.1 will be stamped on the back of the faucet. If there is no number or cannot be proven compliant, it must be replaced.
  • When purchasing a new fixture, look for approved ASSE ASME numbers (not all fixtures being sold are compliant).


  • Keep the ends of hoses clear of all possible contaminants.
  • Verify hose bibb vacuum breaker on all threaded faucets around your home.
  • Make sure water treatment devices such as water softeners per “air gap”, which is a minimum of one inch above the drain.


  • Submerge hoses in buckets, pools, tubs, sinks, or ponds.
  • Use spray attachments on garden hoses without a backflow prevention device on the hose.
  • Connect waste pipes from water softeners or other treatment systems to the sewer or submerged (physical pipe connection) drain pipe.

Charles Bellefontaine CMI, CPI, ACI

Charles is a home inspector and a home inspector trainer. He started as a professional home inspector in 1993. He works for Chicagoland Home Inspectors, Inc. and Bellman Group, Inc. He has earned the title of Certified Master Inspector (CMI) from the Master Inspector Certification Board. He earned the title Certified Property Inspector (CPI) from the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors. He earned the title ASHI Certified Inspector (ACI) from the American Society of Home Inspectors. He served as a Director and Officer of the American Society of Home Inspectors. He hs a tremendous passion about the home inspection profession and prides himself on helping his clients with the biggest purchase of their lives.

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