As businesses begin contemplating potential paths to resuming normal operations once local and state restrictions are modified, CFPUA reminds business owners and others to check and flush private water systems in facilities that have been unoccupied for extended periods.
When a building’s water system goes unused, water stagnating in the pipes increases the risk of contamination by bacteria such as Legionella. Legionella can grow in water temperatures between 77 and 108 degrees Fahrenheit.
It is important to note that bacteria does not result from the water treatment process, which includes a number of disinfection steps. Chlorine that is added to drinking water before it is distributed helps prevent such bacterial growth in customers’ plumbing during normal, regular use. This chlorine, however, dissipates over time, which may allow bacteria to grow in customers’ plumbing during periods of nonuse. Flushing stagnant water from your plumbing before occupying a building can effectively reduce potential health risks.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends flushing cold and hot water points of use such as sinks, drinking fountains, and other fixtures before reopening buildings that have been closed for extended periods. Fixtures with hot water should be flushed until hot water reaches its maximum temperature. This same process should occur for homes and other facilities that have been unoccupied for extended periods.
The CDC also recommends ensuring your water heater is properly maintained and setting the temperature to at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Find other recommendations for prudent reopening steps at the CDC website, including recommendations specific to hotels and tips on how to develop a building-wide water management program.