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Backflow preventer question

Hey all,

I'm helping a neighbor skim his steam boiler (very dirty) and I am running into an issue that has confused me a bit.  The installer put a backflow preventer in between manual feed valve and boiler.  The valve has a copper pipe that comes out the side (vent?) and down into a big 5 gallon bucket.  Everytime homeowner fills boiler via valve, a ton of water shoots out backflow valve and some into the boiler.  This makes doing a slow skim challenging.  Having never worked with a BFP, I dont know what's normal, but this just doesn't appear correct.

Can they be installed "reversed" and cause this to happen?  Could there be crud in the valve?  I started to feed the water and covered the end of the copper "downpipe" with my thumb.  When I removed it, the flow had minimized and we are now able to keep a flow going into the boiler to do the skim. 

Thanks in advance,
striving for peaceful coexistence with an oversized boiler....


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