Water hygiene in your home
We make sure that our water systems are installed and maintained to the highest standards. However, if your home has been empty for a long time there’s a chance that the quality of your water may be affected by the growth of Legionella bacteria, which occurs naturally from time to time in the mains supply.
Situations where this could happen include:
- if you’ve been away on holiday;
- if you’ve been in hospital;
- if there are water outlets such as showers, taps or hose pipes that aren’t used regularly.
In sheltered housing schemes and other communal blocks we ensure that the communal facilities, empty properties and guest rooms are flushed weekly. We also arrange for regular inspection and maintenance of the water system.
What is Legionella and Legionnaires disease?
Legionella is a naturally occurring bacteria present in water. Although the risk is very low, there is a chance that Legionella bacteria can develop in stagnant or stored water in your home. Legionella bacteria can survive at low temperatures and develops quickly at temperatures between 20°C and 45°C. High temperatures, over 60°C, kill Legionella bacteria.
How do people get it and what are the symptoms?
If you inhale water droplets which contain the bacteria, you can become ill. Legionella causes serious lung infections, while Legionnaire’s disease causes similar but less serious conditions.
Symptoms of Legionnaires disease are a high fever, muscle pain and chills, and possibly a persistent cough, chest pains and breathing difficulties. The disease cannot be passed from one person to another.
What do I do if I think I have Legionnaires disease?
If you develop these symptoms and you’re worried that it might be Legionnaires disease, contact your GP immediately. If you’re diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, please also contact us on 01204 328000.
What can I do to reduce the risk of Legionella?
You can make sure that your water stays safe by following these simple steps.
- Keep your hot water hot. Make sure that the thermostat on your hot water system is set to a minimum of 60°C and leave it on for at least one hour before use. Take care when using your hot water to avoid scalding.
- Avoid stagnation by keeping your water moving. Any hot or cold tap, or any shower, that isn’t used at least weekly should be flushed through for two minutes
- Turn the taps on slowly and take the shower head down, if it’s on a flexible hose, to avoid splashing and the release of water droplets.
- Any toilet that is not used within a seven-day period should also be flushed. Close the lid to avoid contact with any water droplets.
- Shower heads and taps should be regularly cleaned and disinfected to ensure no scale or algae build up, which could help the bacteria to survive.