Managing Legionella in Building Water Systems

Building water systems come in many forms. Both domestic, commercial and industrial buildings have water systems which supply both drinking and non drinking water to inhabitants. 

Regardless of the setting, it is important that building owners and managers take the necessary steps to combat Legionella. Not only is not doing this a law breaking act, but you put people at risk of contracting Legionnaires’ disease. In some cases this is fatal, so it is highly important to enforce the correct preventative measures. 

Today, we at COVAC are delving further into this topic. We want to explore building water systems and the people who manage them. Additionally, we want to illustrate how building managers mitigate the risk of any inhabitants developing Legionnaires’ disease. We will demonstrate the steps people take to prevent the growth of Legionella bacteria. Continue below. 

What Is Legionella?

As a water tank lining expert with a wealth of commercial experience, we are quite familiar with Legionella and how harmful it can be. Many of the systems we supply and service have to be treated so that they do not facilitate the growth of this type of bacteria. 

However, we appreciate that those with limited experience may be scratching their heads at this point. So, what is Legionella and how does it impact building water systems?

Simply put, Legionella is a bacteria that is commonly found in water. In certain temperatures, and with the correct nutrients, the bacteria is able to multiply. Below 20°C the bacteria is dormant, whilst at 60°C the environment is too hot to facilitate growth. In between that, conditions allow for bacteria growth. 

If the necessary steps to manage bacteria growth are not taken, the population is at risk of developing Legionnaires’ disease. This is a potentially fatal type of pneumonia which develops as a result of inhaling airborne water droplets containing the bacteria. As you can imagine, this is easily done from a variety of sources. 

It is therefore important that those who are responsible for overseeing the water supply in a building follow proper procedures and adhere to a maintenance schedule. By doing this, you do not provide the opportunity for any bacteria to grow. We explore how this is typically managed below. 

How Can It Be Managed in Building Water Systems?

  • Proper Temperature Control

The best, and most effective, way to ensure Legionella growth is unable to occur is by ensuring water temperature control is properly managed. 

Cold water should be stored and delivered below 20°C, whilst hot water cylinders should store water at 60°C or higher. 

If you are responsible for maintaining a larger building, or commercial property, it is important that routine inspections are carried out. If the building is not regularly used, thorough inspection and regular maintenance is even more important. 

Remember, this bacteria favours stagnant water. Thus, part of any maintenance schedule should include removing dead ends in pipework and flushing out infrequently used outlets regularly. 

  • Laboratory Testing

Depending on the building and the risk, part of any inspection routine could include analysis of water samples. This will help you to identify if bacteria levels are acceptable or if you have a problem. 

Testing is quite accurate now, so periodic checks can be a valuable tool in minimising Legionella growth. As stated, the type of building and potential risk will determine the frequency of testing. 

  • Being Vigilant

As with most things, vigilance will go a long way. Managing Legionella in your building’s water supply needn’t be a difficult task. It simply requires you, or your team, to be organised and attentive. 

All water systems and cylinders need to be checked regularly and make sure you explore resources on this type of bacteria. If you prepare a thorough maintenance and inspection checklist, the rest will usually take care of itself. 

However, it is important that if your facility does have a problem you act quickly and enlist the help of a professional. As stated, the complications can be fatal. 

Water Tank Lining at COVAC

We hope you enjoyed the following article and now have more of an insight into Legionella prevention. 

If you feel that you would benefit from more information on the topic, we have a wealth of resources in our blog section. Our article on preventing Legionella in your warehouse water tank, for example, offers similarly beneficial advice.

As part of our tank lining service, we often work with clients who stress the importance of containing, and managing, Legionella. We have a range of collective expertise in our field, and thus are equipped to advise you on all aspects of water tank lining, treatment and refurbishment. 

If you have concerns about anything you have read in the following article, or wish to discuss our service offering in more detail, we encourage you to contact us today. One of the team will endeavour to get back to you as soon as possible.

  • Cert No. 22946

  • Cert No. 22946