How to Prevent Legionella
Having your property checked by a certified health and safety company is the first step of prevention.
Legionella becomes a serious health concern when it spreads within man-made water systems such as shower heads, cooling tanks, hot tubs and large-scale plumbing systems.
1. Understanding What Legionella is
Prevention is better than a cure, and Legionella can easily be avoided if the correct precautions and regulations are adhered. Understanding what Legionella is is the first step for prevention.
Legionellosis is the collective term for diseases caused by the legionella bacteria, the most threatening of which is Legionnaires’ disease. Legionella bacteria, if left untreated, can lead to Legionnaire’s disease, which is can be a fatal form of pneumonia.
Educating yourself on Legionella is essential, because you will be able to know what to look out for and what actions to take to ensure it doesn’t jeopardise the health and safety of your property.
2. Use Temperature Control
Controlling Legionella essentially boils down to controlling the temperature of your water system(s). Ensuring your water systems are operating at temperatures that prevent Legionella bacteria from forming is essential. We have outlined some key factors to address in regards to keeping your water temperatures at appropriate levels:
- Cold water should always be stored and distributed at temperatures below 20 degrees to ensure Legionella bacteria cannot form and multiply.
- Hot water must be at temperatures exceeding 50 degrees – only a certified Legionella risk assessor will be able to efficiently carry out this task.
- Storage cylinders should always store water at temperatures above 60 degrees.
AMES strongly advises inspecting your water system at least once a year to ensure your water temperatures are in accordance with your risk assessment guidelines.
3. Water Analysis Must be Carried Out Periodically
Stagnant water is the ideal breeding ground for Legionella bacteria growth. The longer water is left stagnant, the more time Legionella bacteria has time to form and develop.
We strongly advise checking and removing redundant pipe lines (pipelines or pipework that were once used but are no longer in use). Flushing taps and shower heads that see rare usage is also advised, as this again provides a strong breeding platform for Legionella bacteria.
4. Keep Water Clean and Maintained
Preventing the growth of Legionella bacteria can be accomplished simply by cleaning and performing routine maintenance. Flushing the water from outlets that aren’t used frequently is important (once a week is advised). Additionally, hot water systems should be drained and checked for any signs of rust or debris and cold water tanks should be cleaned periodically.
You can find out more about how to effectively clean hot and cold water systems by reading HSE’s article here.
It’s important to develop a clear plan of action to ensure that you are doing everything possible to actively prevent Legionella growth. Cleaning and ongoing maintenance is an essential part of this, and as such it’s important that infrequently used outlets are flushed weekly (minimum), cold water tanks are cleaned periodically and hot water cylinders should be drained and checked for signs of corrosion and debris.
These are just a few suggestions from W.E.T which form part of a control scheme, which is required by law. If you want more information on Legionella control or are concerned that your water system isn’t compliant, then contact the team at W.E.T who would be happy to help and advise.
5. Hot Tubs Must be Checked
Many people who purchase hot tubs and other artificial heating pools fail to carry out the necessary Legionella checks.
As mentioned previously, Legionella breeds best in warm water temperatures. However, chlorine and other disinfectant chemicals commonly used in hot tubs are notoriously difficult to maintain at the levels required to eliminate Legionella bacteria.
Disinfectant and other chemicals must be checked regularly to ensure they are able to eliminate the threat of Legionella bacteria. Additionally, hot tubs should be cleaned on a regular basis to ensure no stagnant water is present (this is especially important during in winter, or during the colder months).
If you are concerned about the condition of your hot tub, contacting a Legionella risk professional is encouraged, and this is something we can help with.
You do Not Need to Worry if…
- You own an air conditioning unit – these do not use water to cool the air, meaning there is no platform for Legionella to grow and spread.
- You have had your property and appropriate water systems checked for Legionella in the last year.
- AMES have carried out a Legionella risk assessment.
Do You Require a Legionella Risk Assessment?
AMES carries out professional, Legionella risk assessments across Birmingham. If you’re worried about the condition of your water systems, or you haven’t had your systems checked recently, we can carry out a swift, no hassle Legionella assessment to ensure you are complying with standard property health and safety regulations.
Contact us to book your Legionella risk assessment today.