Seattle Home Inspector's Blog


Never pass up an opportunity to get egg on your face!

Perhaps it is the fact that I like eggs that I came up with this analogy for "learning." 

Sooner or later we all have to come face to face with discovering that something we thought was true, either is not true, or is not true anymore.

This particular bit of egg on my face is about outside faucets.  There are lots of things to think about regarding outside faucets for an inspector, but this post is only about “Anti-siphon” devices, and whether they are present on the valve or not.  If it is newer construction the inspector will note if they are missing or present--and any conditions associated with them that might be observed.

Typically in older homes it might be appropriate to recommend that the devices be added or that newer style valves be installed in the context of overall repairs to the plumbing.

What these devices do is protect the swimming pool water that the kid has just peed in (or worse), from being sucked back into the house water supply if the flow of water were to reverse.  There are several conditions that can allow this to happen, such as flushing water mains/hydrants at the street, or even running faucets on the opposite side of the house.  Regardless of the science of how this happens, they are required by current plumbing codes.

Back to the egg on my face.

Historically I have only looked for, or known about, two types of anti-siphon devices for outside faucets.  One is connected on the place you connect the hose to like in the following picture.

Outside faucet 

The other is mounted on the top of the valve like the one in the following picture with its protective cap missing. 


Recently I found the following valve that did not have an anti-siphon device at either of the usual locations but it did have this interesting, albeit embarrassing, tag.


This tag told me that there is a third way to accomplish the requirement for a vacuum breaker--and it is built into the valve itself.  It also made me aware that I likely mistakenly called for installation of anti-siphon devices on some valves where I mistakenly thought they was "missing." 

My first reaction was, “Well what if someone cuts the nice informative tag off?”  The clue is in the valve stem that the handle attaches to.  There is a small hole present in the stem (like in the next picture) and that is where the faucet will draw in air if the valve goes under negative pressure.

While I had to deal with the egg on my face, I am just grateful there is at least a way to identify a valve that has this type of anti-siphon device.  Also with a proper outside faucet I can sucessfully wash the egg off my face.


Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle

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Comment balloon 46 commentsCharles Buell • August 07 2014 05:34PM


Well, I certainly learned something this morning!  Since I didn't know enough to make any assumptions, though, I guess I don't have to worry about egg on my face.  ;-)

Posted by Susan Haughton, Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results. (Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545) almost 6 years ago

We agents rely on home inspectors "discovering" new or alternative features in home plumbing, electricial, etc.

Good for you for passing on the "discovery".

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) almost 6 years ago

I have never seen that before either. Wonder if it is more expensive or efficient or ????

Posted by Than Maynard, Broker - Licensed to List & Sell - 405-990-8862 (Coldwell Banker Heart of Oklahoma) almost 6 years ago

Learn something new every time I log in to Active Rain! Thanks for the education. Now I can look smarter to my clients!

Posted by Shelly Hendry (Keller Williams Realty Cityside) almost 6 years ago

I hadn't even considered that pool water could get siphoned back into the house water supply.  I thought once water was in the pool, it was pretty much out of the incoming water supply.  I learned something new today!

Posted by Myrl Jeffcoat, Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent (GreatWest Realty) almost 6 years ago

Good morning Charles. This is anew one for me too. Scary stuff but important. Thank you for sharing.

Posted by Sheila Anderson, The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133 (Referral Group Incorporated) almost 6 years ago

Susan, so true--that is "learning without pain" :)

Lenn, what I hate is when I learn something "new" and it has been common knowledge to everyone else :)

Than,they are supposed to be better---don't spit water all over the place while the flaps in the other type seal themselves

Shelly, thanks---seems like there is always something to learn---and AR is a great place to do it

Myrl, yes, if you leave the hose attached to the faucet and leave it under water in the pool, under certain conditions it can and will be sucked back into the water supply

Sheila, you are welcome.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 6 years ago

The value of your inspection eyes...just went up a notch with this post...

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) almost 6 years ago

It would be nice if the state which licenses you, let you know about such devices as the come on the market or become available to the public.  

Posted by Ron Marshall, Birdhouse Builder Extraordinaire (Marshall Enterprises) almost 6 years ago

He heh are correct, at least you could wash the egg off your face!  Great info!

Posted by Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®, Giving Back With Each Home Sold! (RE/MAX Realty Center ) almost 6 years ago

Great information to know.  And good for you for admitting to leaning something new.  Egg-ceptional post.  

Posted by Paula McDonald, Ph.D., Granbury, TX 936-203-0279 (Beam & Branch Realty) almost 6 years ago

Hi Charles, well if you got a bit of egg on your face, then I got a dozen on mine! I've never known about this siphoning device nor do I know what it looks like, but now I am aware of it so thanks for sharing :

Posted by Sophia Lin, Sunnyvale CA Real Estate Specialist (Intero Real Estate Services) almost 6 years ago

I have never seen that before. I learned something new. Thanks for sharing


Posted by Matthew Sturkie, CRS, GRI 909-969-3805, CRS, GRI 909-969-3805 (Action Realty) almost 6 years ago

Charles - Thanks for joining the club, since we've all had to wipe off our face at one time or another... and I learned something new to boot!

Posted by AJ Heidmann ~ CRS, YOUR Alexandria & Arlington, VA Real Estate Expert (McEnearney Associates, Inc.) almost 6 years ago

Good eyes, Charles, good eyes.

Posted by Raymond Denton, Veteran Friendly Realtor® (Homesmart / Evergreen Realty) almost 6 years ago

Charles this is very interesting. I've recently had two or three properties that were missing anti-siphon valves and were asked for in the inspection requests. That makes me wonder if in fact they were needed or perhpas it really was ok.  A good question to ask next time around.

Posted by Anna Banana Kruchten Arizona's Top Banana!, 602-380-4886 (HomeSmart Real Estate BR030809000) almost 6 years ago

As agents we are required to take continuing education courses, I can only assume as inspectors you too would be required to take CE courses. On a side note we are not required to pass a test on these courses so who pays attention?

Posted by Raul Rodriguez, Looking out for the client's interest and not my p (Covenant Partners Realty) almost 6 years ago

This is all new to me.  Wonder if we have discovered these things in Arkansas?

Posted by Barbara S. Duncan, GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR (RE/MAX Advantage) almost 6 years ago

Richie, no doubt :)

Ron, nice but hard to imagine I think.

Kristin, thanks\

Paula, you are just egging me on :)

Sophia, egg is not so bad :)

Matthew, you are welcome

AJ, oh I have been in the club a long time

Raymond, thanks

Anna, yes, I bet lots of inspectors are missing this one

Raul, because this goes beyond the SOP's it might or might not turn up in CE

Barbara, get back to us on that.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 6 years ago

It's always a lesson in something when you post. I have seen these but do not have them on my own house. 

Posted by Scott Seaton Jr. Bourbonnais Kankakee IL Home Inspector, The Home Inspector With a Heart! (SLS Home Inspections-Bradley Bourbonnais Kankakee Manteno) almost 6 years ago

Thanks Charles; I love to learn something new everyday, and today you're it!

Posted by Marie Story, Broker Associate, Pinecrest (Miami) Specialist (Coldwell Banker - Pinecrest (Miami)) almost 6 years ago

I can't remember the last time I saw an anti-siphon hose bib, new construction or old.

But there is one on the gas tank on my car!  I'm real glad for that!

Is that like egg on a thief's face?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

"Or is not true anymore" ... story of my life, Charles.. Congrats on the feature.

Posted by Tammy Emineth, Content Marketer, SEO Teacher, Website Fixer (Personal SEO - Website SEO and Real Estate Marketing) almost 6 years ago

Scott I have the second type on my house---but they have the protective caps on them.

Marie, thanks---glad to provide the information.

Jay, so you don't follow either the UPC or IRC in your area?

Tammy, yes, I have to deal with that one a lot too.  We both got featured at the same time too!  Congrats to you as well.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 6 years ago

Methinks they follow the 7-11 code in my area. 

Yes, I'm sure of that.

But no, I never see those things.

We have UPS in my area.  Was that before or after UPC?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Charles - I was not aware of an anti-siphon valve.  You post has enlightened me.  Thanks.

Posted by Grant Schneider, Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes (Performance Development Strategies) almost 6 years ago

Charles Buell it feels so good to read your posts and all we learn from that. (i had no clue on what you talked about - seriously!)

Posted by Praful Thakkar, Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale (LAER Realty Partners) almost 6 years ago

It is interesting to read about these type of valves.  I had no idea.  I appreciate the time you have taken to give us a bit more education.

Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) almost 6 years ago

Charles, very interesting and what a clever title and ending! HA!

Posted by Sharon & Bruce Walter, West Lafayette homes for sale (Keller Williams Realty Lafayette, IN) almost 6 years ago

You tied it all together for us.  Nice to know there is another way to keep your water supply safe.

Posted by Evelyn Johnston, The People You Know, Like and Trust! (Friends & Neighbors Real Estate) almost 6 years ago

Well you stumped me today Charles, I've never seen this type of valve anywhere.

Posted by Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366, General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage (Dry Rot and Water Damage Mobile - 916-765-5366) almost 6 years ago
An expression I once heard is to "Learn from the burn."
Posted by Laura Cerrano, Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher (Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island) almost 6 years ago

I did not know about this..

That's why we realtors should have a trusted inspector who will find and explain all those 'eggs' to our clients.

Posted by Inna Ivchenko, Realtor® • Green • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA (Barcode Properties) almost 6 years ago

Charlie, Green Eggs? Now I appreciate these even more when they are spraying like a sprinkler ;)

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Thanks for the admission, Charlie. The people who tend to have the most knowledge, are often those who admit to having egg on their face from time-to-time. Good information, and I will look for this too. 

Posted by Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD, REALTORS® in Clark County, WA (ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors) almost 6 years ago

Jay, and I hear there is IRS in your area too?

Grant, yes, most areas that follow UPC or IRC are going to require these devices

Praful, do you mean you have never heard of them or don't understand what they do?

Joan, it seems that lots of commenters are in the same boat---it surprises me

Evelyn, I suspect that this newer type is the only type we will be seeing in time

Tom, any of the types? or this newer version?

Laura, an old sports training term--been there for sure

Inna, yes, hopefully :)

Don, it is kind of like 13th man---always an extra sprinkler head

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 6 years ago

Debb, thanks---wish I could make your meetup!

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 6 years ago

I have seen the anti-siphon valves for years in the chemical industry, for obvious reasons. Never thought to have them installed on a residential property, although for some of the faucets it would make sense

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) almost 6 years ago

Good info supported by good photos. Thanks.

Posted by Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543, Tredyffrin Easttown Realtor, Philly Main Line (Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400) almost 6 years ago

In 3 minutes I just learned more about outside faucets than I ever had! Egg on our face is what keeps us learning!

Posted by Shannon Milligan, Richmond VA Real Estate Agent/Associate Broker, RVA Home Team - Winning with Integrity. (RVA Home Team) almost 6 years ago

Good morning Charles. That was a new one on me. Thanks for the share. I am constantly learning something.

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) almost 6 years ago

Good to know. I typically do not devote much attention to the exterior spigots. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Ed, most jurisdictions have required them for quite some time

Nick & Trudy, thanks

Shannon, thanks---egg on ones face is sometimes what it takes

Michael, which part is new---the newer style or anti-siphon itself?

Jim, because we have so many frost free type faucets, and people tend to never take the hoses off in the winter, I want to check them to make sure they have not frozen in the past.  Pretty simple to do with a pressure gauge.  I end up checking every outside faucet.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 6 years ago

I never knew such a thing existed! We are always learning though. Look at it this way..better to recommend something not needed than miss a potential problem..

Posted by Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty, Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County (Bucci Realty, Inc.) almost 6 years ago

Gary, yes, there is that silver lining

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 6 years ago

Charles: This is an invaluable post and one that I will definitely not forget. I appreciate your time spent sharing this with us!

Posted by Sandy Padula and Norm Padula, JD, GRI, Presence, Persistence & Perseverance (HomeSmart Realty West & Lend Smart Mortgage, Llc.) almost 6 years ago