Water Hygiene - Lincolnshire Housing Partnership

Water Hygiene – What you need to know.

What we mean by water hygiene

Ensuring the water quality and water system in your home is maintained and safe for your use.

Why is water hygiene important?

It is essential to keep water clean to avoid creating favourable conditions for water borne bacteria to flourish, which can make people unwell.

What types of bacteria can grow in a domestic water system?

Several. The most common being the Legionella group of bacteria that can cause legionnaires disease and can be deadly to certain groups of people, including the very young, the elderly and smokers.

Can I prevent Legionella bacteria entering my water system?

Legionella bacteria are found in most natural water sources and is likely present at low levels in all domestic water systems.

Luckily for us the bacteria are harmless to the gut and safe to drink without any ill effects.

Problems arise if we allow the bacteria to colonise the system and release them in steam or droplets small enough to be breathed in.

Can I take steps to prevent my system being colonised?

Yes, and they are easy to follow:

  • Keeping it hot – Water stored in a cylinder or tank needs to reach 60 degrees centigrade at least once a week to kill legionella bacteria, so please make sure your cylinder thermostat dial is set and remains at 60 as a minimum.
  • Keeping it cold – Cold water stored in tanks or settled in pipes ideally needs to be kept below 20 degrees.

20-45 degrees C is the favoured temperature range that legionella bacteria thrive.

  • Keeping it moving (flushing) – the most important step regards the flow of the water in the system.

Legionella bacteria thrives in stagnant warm water.

By running all taps and showers for at least 2 minutes per week, and ensuring any stored tanks have a full turnover of water every week we can help make sure the bacteria can’t colonise.

Usually, weekly flushing in a kitchen or bathroom will happen naturally by using our homes as normal.

But it is important to remember outside taps and other little used outlets will also need flushing weekly because they can create stagnant areas in the pipework and encourage colonisation.

Please remember to flush all outlets thoroughly if you have been away from the property for more than a week. Open a window and move away from the water whilst the flush is taking place.

Will this prevent me contracting Legionnaires disease?

The above steps will deprive the bacteria of the conditions they need to thrive in the water system.

Bacteria, however, will harbour themselves quite happily in limescale found on taps and in shower heads.

So please remember to clean and disinfect shower heads at least once every 3 months and that taps are free from limescale.

Please also refer to our water hygiene guidance below and call us if you have any concerns about the water quality in your home.

Water Hygiene leaflet

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